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Doctors urge UK to intervene against Guantanamo force-feeding

London, Oct 25, IRNA

UK Doctors-Guantanamo
A group of leading physicians urged the British government Tuesday to speak out against the force-feeding of detainees, including at least six UK residents, on hunger strike, at the US concentration camp at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"We would urge the UK government, which so far has remained silent, to intervene to ensure that those British residents being held in Guantanamo are being properly assessed medically by independent physicians," they said.

The government should "ensure that techniques such as
force-feeding are abandoned forthwith in accordance with
internationally agreed legal and ethical standards," said 18 doctors, including Professor Elwyn Elias, president of the British Society for Gastroenterology.

The hunger strikers include Libyan law student, Omar Deghayes, from Brighton, southern England, whose case was presented to authorities in Washington last weekend.

He has been imprisoned at the US base without charge since being arrested Pakistan in 2002.

In a letter to the Guardian newspaper Tuesday, the doctors said that the World Medical Association specifically prohibits the force-feeding of hunger strikers.

"Fundamental to doctors' responsibilities in attending a hunger striker is the recognition that prisoners have the same right as any other patient to refuse medical treatment," they said.

Their letter reminded the British government that this right was respected even under very difficult political circumstances when hunger strikers were allowed to die in Northern Ireland during the early 1980s.

"Doctors (and politicians) do not have to agree with the aims of the prisoner or the steps the prisoner is taking but they must respect the prisoner's informed decision," the physicians said.

They warned that American doctors breaching such guidelines should be held to account to their professional bodies.




News sent: 13:43 Tuesday October 25, 2005 Print