Should doctors apologise for their role in torture?
Doctors have been involved in inhumane treatment of people throughout history.1 They have harmed patients by being either obstinate believers in flawed medical theories or instruments of corrupt political regimes. Notorious examples include the inhumane treatment of mentally ill patients in medieval “asylums,”2 torture by Nazi doctors on thousands of prisoners in German concentration camps,3 and the unethical radiation experiments on prisoners conducted by American doctors during the cold war.4 Recently, US military doctors were alleged to be complicit in prisoner abuse in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, collaborating in designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations, and falsifying or delaying death records of detainees to cover up for abuses.56
Some of these practices may have ended decades or centuries ago, others are still going on or are likely to recur in the future, but in every case the ramifications outlive the actual incident. Guilt may linger