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Abusive medical treatment

Health professionals should also be wary of any attempts (from officials) to ask them to administer treatment or medication that are not aimed at benefiting the physical or mental health of the patient, but only at assisting an interrogation or the management of a patient or detainee.

The individual need not be in prison, or in detention at all, to be tortured. Health professionals must be aware that they might be considered responsible for ill-treatment in settings where patients do not have freedom of movement, for example, those detained under mental health legislation or in facilities for the elderly. Inappropriate use of medical treatment, such as overuse of sedatives, may also be ill-treatment.

For information on the role of medical personnel in torture by the United States in its “War on Terror,” see: http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=15575 [1], a presentation by: Vincent Iacopino MD, PhD, Physicians for Human Rights, in the Global Health and Human Rights series, offered by the UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public, October 23, 2008.