National Preventive Mechanisms: The Role of Medical Doctors

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Date: December 2007 / April 2008
To promote multidisciplinarity of NPMs and in particular the minimum participation of medical doctors and other health professionals in visiting mechanisms.
Activities: Publication of a brochure (English & French) showing the importance and the unique role of medical doctors during visits to places of detention. The APT produced a first draft based on interviews with 6 medical doctors specialized in visits. An expert meeting with 5 of these experts was organized in Geneva on 26 June 2007 to discuss the first draft. The revised draft was the sent out for a broader consultation. The text was finalized in December 2007 and the brochure printed in Spring 2008. The brochure was presented at a side-event on 'The role of medical doctors in the fight against torture', which took place during the Human Rights Council, on 10 March 2008.
Outcome: The publication was distributed to NPMs, NGOs and medical associations both as part of the NPM kit and on its own. It is expected that the participation of members with medical background in NPMs and its staff will increase.
Background: There is little literature on the role of medical doctors during visits to places of detention and what exists focuses mainly on documentation of torture with the research of physical traces of torture by forensic doctors. APT’s brochure, while mentioning this role, also insists on the preventive aspect of visits. Medical doctors also have to analyze globally the functioning of medical services and access to care as a whole. Publication:
Visiting places of detention - What role for physicians and other health professionals? Visites des lieux de détention: Quel rôle pour les médecins et autres professionnels de la santé? Contact Person: Barbara Bernath, Detention Monitoring Programme Officer