The attempts of doctors at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay to force feed the prisoners (currently on hunger strike) through insertion of feeding tubes through their noses has raised controversies among medical associations and ethicists, who claim that such practices violate the fundamental principles of medical ethics.
In addition, the prisoners are being subjected to harsh interrogations, targeted at extension of co-operation by the detainees. A U. N human rights team has stated that this treatment approximated to torture of detainees. Several leaders of U.S. medical organizations were sent to Guantanamo last October, to dispel their concerns. They were however denied access to detainees.
'These are fundamental violations. When doctors join the military, their medical ethics should not change. Medical personnel should not participate in any procedures harmful to the patient,' said Leonard Rubinstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights.
The US officials have declined the use of any coercive attempts while have acknowledged the use of violent interrogation techniques. In addition, they have insisted that the detainees are not subjected to any torture, as claimed.
About 500 individuals suspected in terrorist attacks have been captured and retained by U.S officials. Many of the detainees have been at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for over four years. A handful of them are said to be retained without appropriate charges. The hunger strike is said to be a representation of the detainee's protest against their imprisonment rather than an attempt to kill themselves.
Several agencies such as the American Medical Association has voiced concerns regarding the issue and have warned physicians who intentionally participate in inflicting physical or mental harm. 'When a patient is capable of forming an unimpaired or rational judgment concerning the consequences of refusing nourishment, a physician should respect such a refusal,' stated the AMA.
'Psychiatrists should not participate or serve as consultants for coercive interrogations involving methods such as degradation, threats, isolation, imposition of fear, humiliation, sleep deprivation' said a statement issued by American Psychological Association task force.