Improving human rights worldwide
Doctors and students have a part to play
- By: Vivienne Nathanson
Doctors throughout the world have been challenged recently about their role in promoting human rights.1 This does not mean that human rights should be medicalised human rights, or that doctors should play a part that has little relationship to their “day jobs.” It is a recognition that doctors are uniquely placed to gather information on human rights abuses and to do something about them. Human rights abuses are common in many countries of the world. The “traditional” abuses, such as torture and cruel, degrading treatment, continue to take place with depressing frequency. Doctors are often witnesses.
Much of this abuse occurs in places where people are detained in prisons or police cells. If they are police surgeons or work in prisons, doctors may have to treat people who have been abused. Those in primary and secondary care may see them after they have been released. In both these situations, the