In April 2009, the Bush administration’s “torture memos” as well as reports by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that doctors and psychologists were essential to the design, implementation, and rationalization of a system of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in United States custody. By participating in torture and the abusive treatment of prisoners, these health care professionals have committed grave violations of professional standards and ethical codes, violated the trust of their patients, diminished the stature of their professions, and committed crimes under U.S. and international law. Such violations by health care professionals are truly disturbing and cannot be tolerated.
In the coming weeks, the New York State Legislature will be considering a bill that, if passed, would support health care professionals, protect patients and set a powerful precedent in the fight against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by reaffirming that health care professionals licensed in New York are prohibited from involvement in torture or the abuse of prisoners, wherever that abuse occurs, by removing NY-licensed health care professionals from interrogations and by empowering NY-licensed health care professionals to resist unlawful and unethical orders.
The passage of this unprecedented piece of legislation will have effects far beyond New York. Help us send a strong message to the New York State legislature, the federal government and the rest of the country: The participation of health care professionals in torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners is abhorrent and cannot continue.