Is Australia engaged in torturing asylum seekers? A cautionary tale for Europe

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2015-103326
Authors: John-Paul Sanggaran, Deborah Zion
“Australian immigration detention has been identified as perpetuating ongoing human rights violations. Concern has been heightened by the assessment of clinicians involved and by the United Nations that this treatment may in fact constitute torture. We discuss the allegations of torture within immigration detention, and the reasons why healthcare providers have an ethical duty to report them. Finally, we will discuss the protective power of ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a means of providing transparency and ethical guidance.”
Find abstract here.

The Shadow Doctors

The New Yorker, June 27 2016 issue
Author: Ben Taub
“In the past five years, the Syrian government has assassinated, bombed, and tortured to death almost seven hundred medical personnel, according to Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that documents attacks on medical care in war zones. (Non-state actors, including ISIS, have killed twenty-seven.) …Thousands of physicians once worked in Aleppo, formerly Syria’s most populous city, but the assault has resulted in an exodus of ninety-five per cent of them to neighboring countries and to Europe. Across Syria, millions of civilians have no access to care for chronic illnesses, and the health ministry routinely prevents U.N. convoys from delivering medicines and surgical supplies to besieged areas. …Despite the onslaught, doctors and international N.G.O.s have forged an elaborate network of underground hospitals throughout Syria.”
Find article here.

The Port Arthur massacre and the National Firearms Agreement: 20 years on, what are the lessons?

MJA, online first 23 May 2016
Authors: Michael J Dudley, Alan Rosen, Philip A Alpers and Rebecca Peters
“The 20th anniversary of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) offers lessons for mental health and public health. Along with similar international legislation, the NFA exemplifies how firearms regulation can prevent firearm mortality and injuries….A modest but significant link exists between mental disorders and community violence. However, the vast majority of mentally ill individuals are not violent. Despite media portrayals of their dangerousness, they are more likely to be victims of violence and of suicide. …Screening mentally ill populations for violence risk is misguided. However, clinicians can play a key role in working with legal authorities to monitor and assist regulation of firearm access, especially among high risk populations.”
Find full article here.

Prosecution of US psychologists who ran CIA torture program moves a step closer

BMJ 2016;353:i2454
Author: Owen Dyer
“Two psychologists who designed and managed the now defunct torture program of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may be sued by their victims after a federal judge a allowed the case to move forward. James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen—former employees of the US Air Force Survival School—conducted dozens of torture sessions. The company they formed, Mitchell Jessen and Associates, hired and deployed 60 private interrogators and received over $81 million in payments from the US government.1 The incoming Obama administration ended their contract in 2009.”
Find extract here.

US health organizations call for Congress to end bans on research into gun violence

BMJ 2016;353:i2034
Author: Michael McCarthy
“Nearly 150 US medical associations, public health organizations, and advocacy groups have called on Congress to end federal legislation that restricts funding of research into gun violence. In a 6 April letter to leaders of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriation, organizations representing more than a million US health professionals, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Association…”
Find extract here.

Doctor who gave expert advice in “shaken baby” cases is struck off

BMJ 2016;352:i1682
Author: Clare Dyer
“A leading paediatric neuropathologist has been struck off the United Kingdom’s medical register for repeatedly giving misleading and dishonest evidence to the courts in so called “shaken baby” cases.  Waney Squier, 68, from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, was a frequent expert witness for parents accused of injuring or killing their babies by deliberate acts. She raised the possibility of different causes, such as choking, for injuries that other experts attributed to abusive head trauma.”
Find extract here.

Unit 731 and moral repair

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2015-103177
Authors: Doug Hickey, Scarllet SiJia Li, Celia Morrison, Richard Schulz, Michelle Thiry, Kelly Sorensen
“Unit 731, a biological warfare research organisation that operated under the authority of the Imperial Japanese Army in the 1930s and 1940s, conducted brutal experiments on thousands of unconsenting subjects. Because of the US interest in the data from these experiments, the perpetrators were not prosecuted and the atrocities are still relatively undiscussed. What counts as meaningful moral repair in this case—what should perpetrators and collaborator communities do decades later? We argue for three non-ideal but realistic forms of moral repair…”
Find abstract here.

Disabled people experience violence, elder abuse and neglect in ‘epidemic proportions’, says rights group

ABC News online, 18 March 2016
Author: Sarah Gerathy
“Horrific allegations of violence, abuse and neglect of disabled people have been detailed by a national disability rights advocacy group in a submission to a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into elder abuse. The submission by People with a Disability Australia argues that disabled people experience violence, abuse and neglect in “epidemic proportions,” citing research that shows 75 per cent of reported cases of elder abuse involve older people with cognitive impairment.”
Find article here. Find Parliamentary inquiry page here.

Not just justice: inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women needs public health input from the start

CMAJ March 15, 2016 vol. 188 no. 5 First published February 29, 2016, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.160117
“On Dec. 8, 2015, the Government of Canada announced its plan for a national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls, in response to a specific call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.1 On Jan. 5, 2016, a pre-inquiry online survey was launched to “allow … [stakeholders an] opportunity to provide input into who should conduct the inquiry, … who should be heard as part of the inquiry process, and what issues should be considered.”2 We urge the federal government to be cognizant of the substantial knowledge, skill and advocacy of those who work in public health when deciding who should be consulted as part of this important inquiry.”
Find editorial here.