Guidelines for Medical Doctors
concerning Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of
Punishment in relation to Detention and Imprisonment.
As adopted by the 29th World Medical Assembly, Tokyo, Japan, October 1975.
It is the privilege of the medical doctor to practice medicine in the
service of humanity, to preserve and restore bodily and mental health
without distinction as to persons, to comfort and to ease the suffering of
his or her patients. The utmost respect for human life is to be maintained
even under threat, and no use made of any medical knowledge contrary to
the laws of humanity.
For the purpose of this Declaration, torture is defined as the
deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental
suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any
authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a
confession, or for any other reason.
The doctor shall not
countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or
other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, whatever the
offence 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.
The doctor 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
The doctor shall not be
present during any procedure during which torture or other forms of
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments is used or threatened.
A doctor must have
complete clinical independence in deciding upon the care of a person
for whom he or she is medically responsible. The doctor’s
fundamental role is to alleviate the distress of his or her fellow
men, and no motive whether personal, collective or political shall
prevail against this higher purpose.
Where a prisoner
refuses nourishment and is considered by the doctor as capable of
forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the
consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she
shall not be fed artificially. The decision as to the capacity of the
prisoner to form such a judgment as to the capacity of the prisoner to
form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other
independent doctor. The consequences of the refusal of nourishment
shall be explained by the doctor to the prisoner.
The World Medical
Association will support, and should encourage the international
community, the national medical associations and fellow doctors to
support the doctor and his or her family in the face of threats or
reprisals resulting from a refusal to condone the use of torture or
other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.