Physician roles at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo


Discussion on medical professionalism, dual loyalty, and human rights

On Tuesday, March 1, the Harvard Medical School Division of Medical Ethics will host a public forum, "Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: Medical Professionalism, Dual Loyalty, and Human Rights."

This public forum will explore the role of medical military personnel in alleged torture and other violations of human rights in U.S. military facilities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Medical professionals sometimes find themselves in circumstances of "dual loyalty," where they must choose between responsibility for individuals in need of care and demands placed upon them by the state or other governing entity. Dual loyalty can arise in the military, in prisons, in situations where care is provided to illegal immigrants, in forensic psychiatry, and in a variety of workplaces where institutional interests dominate.

Starting with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as case examples, this forum will branch out to broadly explore the problem of dual loyalty and its implications for medical professionalism and human rights.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Reception to follow. Please RSVP to [email protected]

Harvard Medical School
Tosteson Medical Education Center, Carl Walter Amphitheater
260 Longwood Avenue (2nd Floor)
Boston, MA 02115


  • Steven H. Miles, MD, Professor of Medicine, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota Medical School
  • Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD, Executive Director, Physicians for Human Rights
  • Robert Jay Lifton, MD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

    Moderator: Mildred Z. Solomon, EdD, Associate Clinical Professor of Social Medicine, Medical Ethics, and Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School; and Vice President, Education Development Center

    Issues to be raised:

  • How were military medical professionals involved at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo?
  • What guidelines currently exist to guide health care professionals when they are in situations of dual loyalty?
  • What makes it difficult for individual physicians and other health care providers to abide by such guidelines?
  • What should the profession of medicine do to ensure that physicians remain true to the highest moral standards of the profession and to international treaties protecting human rights?

    Source: Eurekalert & others

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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