NI: Amnesty backs BMA anti-torture call

Amnesty International has welcomed the anticipated vote today by the British Medical Association (BMA) to condemn torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay .

500 doctors from around the UK, including leading consultants and GPs from throughout Northern Ireland, are attending the four-day annual representative meeting in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

The resolution is supported by the Northern Ireland Council of the BMA and was partly proposed by Amnesty International member Dr David Nicholl, a Belfast-born consultant neurologist, who said:

“The recent deaths at Guantánamo were the tragic consequence of a regime beyond the rule of law where doctors have been directly involved in unethical behaviour consistent with torture. We will not look the other way regarding allegations of torture, even if others, including our own Prime Minister, continue to do so.”

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director said:

“It is heartening to see doctors in this country – led by doctors from Northern Ireland – taking a stand against the abuse of prisoners. We repeat our call today for the abusive regime that is Guantánamo Bay to be shut down and the hundreds of prisoners held there to be either charged and tried in a court of law or freed and returned to their families.”

ENDS

Note to editors:

The BMA resolution tabled for the morning session of the BMA conference on Thursday 29 June in full:

“That this Meeting:
(i) believes any torture of prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay or HMP Belmarsh is inhumane and contrary to the Geneva Convention;
(ii) condemns the force feeding of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay under the direct supervision of US doctors;
(iii) urges the UK government to seek direct and unfettered access to detainees, including several former UK residents, by an independent team of UK doctors and the results of such visits be made public;
(iv) notes with considerable concern the lack of publicly visible action from the WMA over the role of doctors in Guantánamo Bay with as yet no discussion in WMA Council;
(v) calls on the BMA to withdraw from the WMA unless it is seen to take this matter seriously.”

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