Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 16:30 to 16:50 Download Presentation

Concealment of torture cases as a serious breach of ethics in the practice of the medical profession on the part of forensic doctors in the National Court of Spain

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Dr. Susana Beatriz Etchegoyen ( Encuentro de Profesionales contra la Tortura - Spain ), Dr. Alfredo Grande ( Encuentro de Profesionales contra la Tortura - Spain ), Prof. Mirta Fabre ( Encuentro de Profesionales contra la Tortura - Spain )


The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Kingdom of Spain six times for violating Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture. The European Court and international law understand that the fact that torture reports have not been investigated constitutes in itself a violation and a torture crime. The forensic doctors involved have repeatedly refused not only to report but also to document torture.


In compliance with the standards and principles established by the Istanbul Protocol against torture, a selection was made of six documented cases of torture to political prisoners while in confinement in different detention centers in Spain, in which the victims filed court claims. The source for research in every case was the documentation in the court files. In each case, the following was analyzed:

1.Circumstances for detention

2.Place and conditions of detention

3.Methods of torture and ill-treatment

4.Medical records, including hospitalization due to seriousness of injuries, whenever it was necessary

5.Forensic report in each claim

For each case, a true copy of the file submitted by the legal representative was attached to the claim. The victims had access to the text of the claims before they were submitted; they were notified of the submission in due time and proper form, and gave their consent for the claims to be published by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).


Given the repeated claims on behalf of the detainees regarding the forensic doctors’ denial of torture, which constitutes a very serious breach of ethics and an intentional disregard of the international bodies’ set of laws and, in particular, of the World Medical Association (WMA), in relation to the duties of physicians to these patients, we contacted the WMA to request appropriate actions that guarantee compliance on the part of the medical institutes and associations of Spain of the above-mentioned laws. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, in its sixth periodic report of Spain, has taken into consideration our complaints under Paragraph 14 in its Concluding Observations (CCPR/C/SR. 3192-20/07/2015) and has expressed concern, “regarding the deficiencies in forensic assessment in cases of investigation of human rights violations by State officials”.

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