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Doctors may assess and treat torture survivors; some may document crucial evidence of torture in medico-legal reports. However, there is a lack of education on torture and related ethical and legal issues at undergraduate and postgraduate level and many doctors are not aware of opportunities to work with organisations for the prevention of torture. This paper defines Torture, describes methods used, and sets out the human rights instruments and codes of ethical practice that mandate efforts to prevent torture. Medical complicity in torture is discussed and the need for national and international medical associations to prevent torture by both supporting doctors and recognising and tackling medial complicity. The paper offers guidance for assessing and documenting torture, and for providing health care for survivors of torture.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Supplement

Publication Date





464 - 471