#Human Rights
UK doctors
United Kingdom

October 1, 2006

This petition is now closed. Thanks to all who signed.


I and over 250 doctors across the World wrote a letter in the Lancet on March 10th regarding the ongoing human rights abuses and breaches of medical ethics by doctors in Guantanamo (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2006/06/guantanamo-and-medical-ethics.php).

In June, the British Medical Association at its annual meeting, passed a unanimous motion for a group of UK doctors to go to Guantanamo to assess the medical treatment there. This has been rejected by the Foreign Office. (see Hansard here http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2006-07-10b.83426.h).

Further it has become apparent, that the Foreign Office's medical and legal panels have NEVER discussed Guantanamo.

The purpose of this letter is to collect as many signatures from UK healthcare workers as possible for a letter which we will then submit to a UK newspaper to put pressure on the Foreign Office to act for UK residents being held in Guantanamo, such as Omar Deghayes (http://www.save-omar.org.uk/)

If you are doctor and a BMA member please state so when you sign.

Dr David Nicholl


In discussion regarding media tactics with others, I would be grateful if ONLY doctors sign up. I am extremely grateful for the support of medical students, nursing staff and other colleagues in this important issue. However from the Press point-of-view, it will be much simpler to see that 100+ doctors have signed up to this letter. Apologies for the change of tack!


Dear Sir,

The recent US supreme court decision that the Guantanamo tribunals were illegal did not address the pressing medical concerns of the detainees. Recently the BMA proposed that an independent group of UK doctors visit Guantanamo to assess their medical treatment. Several UK residents remain incarcerated there.

The Foreign Office have refused to act on this request. Further it has come to our attention that in over 4 years, neither the Pro Bono Medical or Legal panels have ever discussed Guantanamo. These two Foreign Office committees were set up specifically to assist the government when there is serious concern for the medical or legal status of British prisoners overseas. Margaret Beckett has told us that “where consular officials are aware of a serious legal problem, they seek to solve this at local level before the use of either panel is considered”.

Our government’s present excuse is that it does not wish to set a precedent to act for British residents, rather than British citizens. We find this morally repugnant. The Foreign Office can and does act differently when circumstances suit, for example seeking to overturn a death sentence on an Afghan Christian convert, Abdul Rahman. Yet it feels unable to take any action for UK residents held illegally in Guantanamo.

Finally given that the US military has awarded medals for doctors involved in the care of Guantanamo detainees (for medical treatment that would warrant a criminal investigation if carried out in Britain), we have no confidence in the proposed investigation of the recent suicides. It is clear that an independent scrutiny is urgently required by physicians outside of the US military. The silence of the Foreign Office is shameful and reflects the collusion of this country in a war crime."

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The Clinicians against Guantanamo torture petition to UK doctors was written by Dr David Nicholl and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.