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US military force-feeding violates medical ethics, says task force

US military force-feeding violates medical ethics, says task force

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A new task force formed by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession is charging that the Department of Defense and CIA directed doctors to violate medical ethics in their treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere. The task force, which includes doctors, former military officers, and human rights activists, reports that doctors at US military detention centers were "designing, participating in, and enabling torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment" in clear violation of their ethical duty to avoid the infliction of harm. "We wanted to look at the role of health professionals in detainee abuse, and what that legacy is," said Leonard S. Rubenstein, a Johns Hopkins doctor who served on the task force. "What we found is a pretty disturbing legacy."

"Cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment."

Many of the practices described in the report have been in place since the military's post-9/11 shift, but the task force says that despite recent reforms like President Obama's ban on torture, the medical ethics issues are still unresolved. The report also coincides with an ongoing hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay, which has lasted for eight months and involved over 100 prisoners. Fourteen prisoners are still on feeding tubes as a result of the action, which Rubinstein found particularly troubling. "Force-feeding is ethically prohibited both in American medical practice and globally, and this is force-feeding of a particularly brutal kind."