“The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) joins the Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (TRC) in Palestine and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR-IL) in objecting to new legislation that will enable force-feeding of some 300 Palestinian prisoners currently undergoing hunger strike as protest to their administrative detention.
According to media reports, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the acceleration of the bill’s passage through the legislature. The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and has been approved in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
PHR-IL is concerned that the fast-track approval of the law is due to the pressure on Israel to deal with the current hunger strikers. According to PHR-IL, “every day more and more Palestinian detainees are joining the prisoners’ strike in solidarity with the administrative detainees.”
Ninety of the administrative detainees who began the hunger strike are now on their 50th day of hunger.
According to PHR-IL, “the force-feeding and forced care outlined in the bill would constitute serious violations of human rights and medical ethics, including: the legalisation of torture through regulating and allowing the forced feeding and forced care of the hunger strikers; the improper use of medicine and/or doctors for political advantage; the contravention of domestic law, of patient rights declarations, and of numerous international conventions.”
Regional human rights courts and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has consistently held that forced feeding may amount to torture or ill-treatment. In a similar sense, the World Medical Association’s (WMA) Declaration of Tokyo (2006) states that “where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.”
In addition, the revised Declaration of Malta (2005) stipulates that forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable and that coercion is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Also, the WMA’s Declaration of Hamburg (1997) supports “doctors refusing to participate in, or to condone, the use of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
The IRCT calls on the government of Israel to reject the bill and calls on the Israeli medical community to upkeep its ethical stance, denying to carry out the force-feeding and forcible care of prisoners, as well as to take a stronger role denouncing the force-feeding legislation.”