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WMA condemns denial of medical care to prisoners

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The World Medical Association has condemned Iran for withholding medical care from political prisoners as a form of punishment.

In a letter to Iran’s leader, the Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, WMA President Sir Michael Marmot said the WMA was deeply concerned by issues raised in an Amnesty International report giving details of medical care being denied to political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, as a form of additional punishment, coercion or to elicit confessions.

Sir Michael said the provision of adequate medical care is a key human right, which under international law must not be adversely affected by imprisonment. United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provides that, “prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary healthcare services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status”.

Sir Michael called on the Iranian authorities to stop withholding medical care as a punishment, and to ensure that security officials and prison staff, including medical staff, suspected of deliberately denying medical care were investigated and, where there was evidence, prosecuted.

“We appeal to your humanity and sense of justice and trust that you will take promptly all the necessary steps related to our demands,” Sir Michael wrote.

Kirsty Waterford