In February of this year I posted this open letter of protest on this website. This is a campaign by 725 physicians (including myself) from 43 countries to compel the World Medical Association (WMA) to examine the medical ethical track record of the Israeli Medical Association, one of its member associations, in relation to its adherence to the Declaration of Tokyo, a key WMA code. This declaration mandates doctors not only to refuse any involvement in the practice of torture, but to speak out and confront it whenever encountered.
Unfortunately there is reputable evidence of the collusion of doctors with torture in Israel. Our letter to the WMA Council in May set out some of this evidence and also queried the probity of IMA President Yoram Blachar’s position as WMA President as a result of his inaction in addressing this matter.
We continue to press the WMA Council for a response. Dr Blachar however has responded on his own account by instructing solicitor Mark Stephens of Finer, Stephens & Innocent to issue the campaign convener, Dr Derek Summerfield, with a threat of a libel action – directed to him personally. This would appear to be an attempt to muzzle this issue of high public interest and principle, as regrettably English defamation laws are weighted heavily in favour of the plaintiff and libel actions here are costly to fight.
What is particularly puzzling is that despite writing to Dr Summerfield, solicitor Mark Stephens would appear to be constitutionally placed to be sympathetic towards our campaign’s wish to be heard. Perusal of the website of Index on Censorship, who campaign for freedom of expression, indicates that he is a trustee of their organisation.
Doctors demand Yoram Blachar resign as ethics chief over Israeli torture Guardian 21 June 2009