Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge
Summary: Health care professionals are expected to “do no harm”. This bill will ensure that Massachusetts licensed health care professionals are not involved in the torture, abuse or direct interrogation of prisoners or detainees. This bill imposes civil sanctions on health care professionals who participate in torture, abuse, or direct interrogations, requires professionals to report torture or abuse and provides protections to whistleblowers.
This bill is a step in the right direction to ensure that the well-documented complicity and direct participation of physicians and other health professionals in the unethical treatment of detainees ends. Health professionals who engage in acts of torture should be held accountable for their actions so these unethical acts will not be repeated.
Massachusetts is viewed as a national leader in access to health care and should take strong strides to prohibit the involvement of its health care professionals in the interrogation of prisoners or detainees. The torture and improper treatment of prisoners is not a job for health professionals and those involved should be punished for participating in such inhumane acts.
Why This Matters: From Guantanamo to Afghanistan, the torture and mistreatment of detainees is widespread and the abuse rampant. Implementing the discredited theory that “breaking” prisoners would allow them to gather valued intelligence and elicit confessions, health professionals employ inhumane methods such as suffocation by water, confinement in a coffin-like box, severe isolation, and prolonged sleep deprivation, used by the U.S. military on its own soldiers as preparation for torture by enemy forces. In many cases, health professionals have advised interrogators on methods of abuse that would exploit prisoners’ mental and psychological weaknesses and administered medical procedures to harm prisoners. Evidence suggests that exploiting prisoners and detainees in this manner does not always yield factual intelligence as the individual suffering from acts of torture could offer up falsified testimony to stop the inhumane acts from occurring.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill would ensure that health care professionals not turn a blind eye on the abuse and mistreatment of prisoners and detainees by imposing civil sanctions on those who participate in these unjust acts. The bill would discourage health professionals from covering up evidence of prisoner mistreatment by allowing acts committed in their presence to be reported anonymously. This bill would reaffirm the role health care professionals play in the recovery and wellness of individuals.
You can view the full text of the bill and track its movement here.