New Resources: August 3, 2012
No More Euphemisms: Waterboarding is Torture
The latest issue (#22) of the journal Torture, published by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims includes, as usual, a number of articles of interest to both professional and general readers. I was particularly struck by physician Jonathan Beynon’s contribution, “Not waving, drowning,” which, as far as I’m concerned, explodes forever any argument that waterboarding can be discussed as anything other than torture. No more “enhanced interrogation,” no more “simulated drowning.” (The IRCT Journal Torture is available online or by print subscription.)
When it comes to employing asphyxia through drowning as a so-called method of interrogation, there can be no simulation. Either you are subjected to and experiencing asphyxia and the process of drowning, or you are not. If I put a plastic bag over your head and hold it in position until you experience difficulty breathing, am I simulating depriving you of oxygen, or am I depriving you of oxygen? Self-evidently it is the latter. The person subjected to submarine or waterboarding is not waving, but drowning; they are being involuntarily subjected to the severe pain and suffering of the process of drowning for the purpose of interrogation. They are being subjected to torture.
According to the Open Society Foundations, “the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been called the worst areas in the world to be a woman or child. For the past 15 years, women and girls in the region have suffered mass sexual violence on an unimaginable scale, perpetrated by the Congolese army, rebels, militias, and others. Impunity has been the rule…”
Justice in DRC is a brief report documenting the Foundations’ creation of mobile gender courts which, according to the document, “have brought a measure of justice – and dignity – to victims. The full title of the report is Justice in DRC: Mobile Courts Combat Rape and Impunity in Eastern Congo.
Colombia’s Children at Risk, with “No One to Trust”
This recent (April, 2012) report from the organization Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict documents the disastrous situation of children and young people as a result of the country’s decades-long civil wars. The 52-page analysis is available online in English and Spanish.
Girls and boys have been subjected to forced recruitment, rape and sexual violence, killing and maiming, and have been seriously affected by attacks against schools and the denial of humanitarian assistance…More than half of an estimated 3.9 to 5.3 million internally displaced people in Colombia are under 18, rendering them even more vulnerable to the threats that caused them to flee their homes in the first place.
Health Professionals in Immigration
Detention Centers Face “Dual Loyalties”
This report was published in 2011, but I only came across it recently. I found it of particular interest because of my past film work on ethical issues in healthcare. Dual Loyalties: The Challenges of Providing Professional Health Care to Immigration Detaines was written by Christy Fujio, an attorney who currently heads up the Asylum Program of Physicians for Human Rights. It looks at the ethical conflicts faced by healthcare professionals working in the growing industry of immigrant detention. As of the time of writing, the report notes that “approximately 400,000 people, including elderly, women, mentally ill and disabled people, are detained each year in restrictive conditions that have been designed for punitive purposes.”
In the conditions that prevail in many of these facilities — a growing proportion of which are for-profit businesses — even the best-intentioned of health workers will find themselves facing pressures to act in ways that may violate their professional ethics.
Operating within a law enforcement organization whose chief mission is to control and eventually remove undocumented immigrants from the U.S. creates numerous loyalty conflicts for health practitioners torn between acting in their patients’ best interests and serving the mission and needs of the U.S. government…
Dual Loyalties documents several cases in which the failure of healthcare workers to follow ethical guidelines resulted in harm to, or the death of, detainees; it notably does not include cases in which caregivers behaved ethically, in opposition to the pressures of their employers. Nor does it offer much evidence that healthcare professionals working in these environments in fact feel “torn.” This may be not so much a case of dual loyalties as of a near total breakdown of any sense of professional responsibility toward detainee patients.
……….The Wheels of Justice…