Doctors for Refugees – Doctor March 5 November 2016

Doctors for Refugees, October 2016
Doctors for Refugees calls on all Australian doctors and their supporters — specifically other health professionals and indeed all concerned citizens — to march on November 5th in major Australian cities to demand humane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
Find more information here.
Dr David Berger has penned a powerful editorial in the BMJ, one of the world’s top four medical journals, demanding that the torture of innocent people cease and calling on doctors to march, see editorial here.

Australia’s torture of asylum seekers

BMJ 2016;354:i4606
Author: David Berger
“The Guardian newspaper’s publication of 8000 leaked pages alleging horrendous abuse and appalling conditions for detainees at Australia’s immigration detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru has again brought Australia’s treatment of indefinitely imprisoned asylum seekers into sharp public focus. The so-called Nauru files, published on 10 August, describe alleged assaults, sexual abuse, self harm attempts, and child abuse. The Guardian’s analysis showed 51.3% of the 2116 reports involve children, although children were only about 18% of those in detention at the time.”
Find abstract here.

Four Corners: is using restraints akin to torture?

The Conversation, 26 July 2016
Author: Bernadette McSherry
“The use of various forms of restraint to control behaviour occurs in a wide range of institutional and other settings. However, it is controversial due to the adverse physical and psychological effects that may result. In health-care settings, regulation occurs primarily under mental health and disability services legislation, as well as through a range of policy directives and guidelines. There are no universal definitions. And there are gaps in regulation and oversight.”
Find article here.

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.

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.

The Health Care Consequences Of Australian Immigration Policies

PLoS Med 13(2): e1001960. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001960
Authors: Sanggaran J-P, Haire B, Zion D
“In Australia, immigration policy is to incarcerate those seeking asylum in order to deter others from coming. Within this environment, health care providers frequently experience “dual loyalty” conflict, whereby they cannot serve the interests of both their patients and their employers. The ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) would allow for domestic and international monitoring of places of detention, which would serve to ameliorate some of the most problematic aspects of the detention system, including the undemocratic lack of transparency. This would assist in resolving the “dual loyalty” conflict that health care workers must contend with in the current situation.”
Find article here.

Are healthcare professionals working in Australia’s immigration detention centres condoning torture?

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2015-103066
Author:  David Isaacs
“Australian immigration detention centres are in secluded locations, some on offshore islands, and are subject to extreme secrecy, comparable with ‘black sites’ elsewhere. There are parallels between healthcare professionals working in immigration detention centres and healthcare professionals involved with or complicit in torture. In both cases, healthcare professionals are conflicted between a duty of care to improve the health of patients and the interests of the government. While this duality of interests has been recognised previously, the full implications for healthcare professionals working in immigration detention have not been addressed.”
Find abstract here.

Symposium: Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust

The University of Sydney Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine & the Sydney Jewish Museum present a seminar “Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust” for medical and healthcare practitioners, students and scholars. Join academics and physicians in examining the evolution of medical ethics and the relationship between the profession and the State. Does the moral low point in the history of medicine provide guidance for today’s quandaries in medical ethics? What is the place of euthanasia and eugenics in contemporary society?
A certificate of completion will be provided for CME points, and participants will have the opportunity to engage with living witnesses to genocide.
Date: Sunday 15 November 2015, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Location: Sydney Jewish Museum, Darlinghurst, NSW
More information & registration: Download the symposium flyer and program here, or email rsvp@sjm.com.au or phone 02 9360 7999.

US psychologists banned from participating in national security interrogations

BMJ 2015;351:h4339
Author: Michael McCarthy
“The American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives has voted to prohibit psychologists from participating in national security interrogations. The measure was passed by a vote of 156-1, with seven abstentions and one recusal, on 7 August during the association’s 123rd annual convention in Toronto, Canada.1”
Find extract here.

Symposium: Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust

The University of Sydney Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine & the Sydney Jewish Museum present a seminar “Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust” for medical and healthcare practitioners, students and scholars. Join academics and physicians in examining the evolution of medical ethics and the relationship between the profession and the State. Does the moral low point in the history of medicine provide guidance for today’s quandaries in medical ethics? What is the place of euthanasia and eugenics in contemporary society?
A certificate of completion will be provided for CME points, and participants will have the opportunity to engage with living witnesses to genocide.
Date: 15 November 2015, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Location: Sydney Jewish Museum, Darlinghurst, NSW
Registration: rsvp@sjm.com.au or phone 02 9360 7999.
More information: Download the symposium flyer and program here.