22nd October 2011
NRS Medical College and Hospital
We being a member of civil society and a prominent protestor against all forms of torture and indiscrimination want to draw your kind notice that we have received information that the Supreme Court directed the Chhattisgarh government to get Ms. Soni Sori, a tribal woman, treated in your hospital for the injuries she sustained in police custody.
We hope that you are already aware of the directives issued by the Supreme Court in this regard and the chances are likely that Ms. Soni Sori would be produced in your hospital soon by the police / authority of Chhattisgarh government.
It is matter of grave concern that Ms. Soni Sori whom you are going to examine has been allegedly tortured in police custody even by putting electric shock by the perpetrator police personnel. It seems that the court is primarily concerned with the seriousness of the allegation brought against the perpetrator police personnel of committing torture upon the victim in custody and the process has been commenced by the Hon'ble Court to search out the truthness of the allegations.
We understand that medical practitioner has a vital role to play to fight against all forms of torture by rendering help to the torture victims and give them actual confidence to fight against injustice by evaluating their physical and mental condition properly and recording the same correctly. We expect that you will read the following resolution adopted by the General Assembly, United Nations and Declaration of World Medical Assembly (Tokyo, Japan 1975) and pursuant to those international humanitarian laws, we hope that you will select due course of action while dealing with the examination of Ms. Soni Sori.
Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Adopted by General Assembly resolution 37/194of 18 December 1982
Health personnel, particularly physicians, charged with the medical care of prisoners and detainees have a duty to provide them with protection of their physical and mental health and treatment of disease of the same quality and standard as is afforded to those who are not imprisoned or detained.
It is a gross contravention of medical ethics, as well as an offence under applicable international instruments, for health personnel, particularly physicians, to engage, actively or passively, in acts which constitute participation in, complicity in, incitement to or attempts to commit torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel, particularly physicians:
(a) To apply their knowledge and skills in order to assist in the interrogation of prisoners and detainees in a manner that may adversely affect the physical or mental health or condition of such prisoners or detainees and which is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments;
(b) To certify, or to participate in the certification of, the fitness of prisoners or detainees for any form of treatment or punishment that may adversely affect their physical or mental health and which is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments, or to participate in any way in the infliction of any such treatment or punishment which is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments.
There may be no derogation from the foregoing principles on any ground whatsoever, including public emergency.
WMA Declaration of Tokyo - Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment
Adopted by the 29th World Medical Assembly, Tokyo, Japan, October 1975
and editorially revised by the 170th WMA Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2005
and the 173rd WMA Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2006
1. The physician shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, whatever the offense of which the victim of such procedures is suspected, accused or guilty, and whatever the victim's beliefs or motives, and in all situations, including armed conflict and civil strife.
2. The physician shall not provide any premises, instruments, substances or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or to diminish the ability of the victim to resist such treatment.
3. When providing medical assistance to detainees or prisoners who are, or who could later be, under interrogation, physicians should be particularly careful to ensure the confidentiality of all personal medical information. A breach of the Geneva Conventions shall in any case be reported by the physician to relevant authorities.
The physician shall not use nor allow to be used, as far as he or she can, medical knowledge or skills, or health information specific to individuals, to facilitate or otherwise aid any interrogation, legal or illegal, of those individuals.
5. A physician must have complete clinical independence in deciding upon the care of a person for whom he or she is medically responsible. The physician's fundamental role is to alleviate the distress of his or her fellow human beings, and no motive, whether personal, collective or political, shall prevail against this higher purpose.
We expect that Soni Sori would be examined by a team of medical experts including surgeon, gynecologist, psychiatrist and doctor having specialization on treating trauma patients in your hospital.
It is reported that Ms. Soni Sori is suffering from "Contusion on Rt. Occipital region, Tenderness on Lumbar region", "Injury on occipital, contusion and tenderness", "Black … on plantar aspect of middle fingers (1+1) side", and other forms of bodily injuries and mental trauma.
In this context, I would request to your goodself to record statement / complaint of Ms. Soni Sori not in presence of police and when providing medical assistance to Ms. Soni Sori, physicians should be particularly careful to ensure the confidentiality
There is inbuilt guarantee under Articles 20(3), 21 and 23 of the Constitution of India against torture or assault by the State of its functionaries.
We hope that you would kindly take note of the above mentioned situation and the concern raised by us and shall act accordingly.
National Convenor, PACTI
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Tele-Fax - +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth. - Mohandas Gandhi
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