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Introduction

The term, ‘medical ethics,’ broadly describes the moral framework in which health professionals are bound to carry out their work. Many of the rules and principles of medical ethics have been adopted as professional codes of conduct. While ethics must guide every action of health professionals in their work, in the process of investigating and documenting allegations of torture, there are three areas in which the health professional must be particularly cognizant of specific ethical considerations. The first is the duty to the patient, the second is the clinical independence of the health professional and the third is in the production of medical records, reports and testimony.

There are certain ethical issues which are more likely to come to the fore depending on the various situations in which health professionals may encounter those alleging or showing signs of torture. This section points out the particular ethical considerations raised by situations such as the examination of an individual who is brought to a hospital or clinic still in the custody of the police, military or other security forces, and difficulties encountered by health professionals employed by the police, military or prison authorities.