Health Professionals Against Torture aims to end health professional involvement in torture and any acts of ill-treatment.
Definition of Torture
The definition of torture to be used for the purposes of forming this coalition is taken from the International Coalition of the Red Cross (ICRC), which follows the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture (Article 1)i description as:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
The coalition will use the above definition as a guiding principle for the acts it targets.
Definition of Ill Treatment
At a later stage we may choose to extend our focus from torture itself to all forms of ill-treatment in which health professionals are involved. The term "ill-treatment," encompasses both torture and other acts prohibited by international humanitarian law, including but not limited to "inhuman, cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and physical or moral coercion." These acts may be physical or psychological in nature, and often result in both kinds of effects.
The ICRC distinguishes between torture and other kinds of ill-treatment as such:
Torture: existence of a specific purpose plus intentional infliction of severe suffering or pain.
Cruel or inhuman treatment: no specific purpose, significant level of suffering or pain inflicted.
Outrages upon personal dignity: no specific purpose, significant level of humiliation or degradation.
The ICRC's understanding of torture conforms to international humanitarian law in expanding its definition to include acts perpetrated by non-officials and non-governmental entities. It also espouses the denouncement of torture and ill-treatment at all times and in all circumstances.