When Healers Harm: Accountability for Health Professional Abuse of People in Custody


Add to My Calendar Thursday, May 14, 2009


The Center for Constitutional Rights and Physicians for Human Rights

present a panel discussion, featuring:


Richard N. Gottfried, NY State Assemblymember (D-75th Dist.) & Chair, NYS Assembly Health Committee,

Allen S. Keller, M.D., NYU/Bellevue Survivors of Torture Program & Physicians for Human Rights,

Dr. Steven Reisner, Coalition for an Ethical Psychology & Physicians for Human Rights,

Jamie Fellner, Esq., U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch, and

Gitanjali Gutierrez, Esq., Center for Constitutional Rights.

Additional speakers to be announced.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The Community Church of New York, Assembly Hall
40 East 35th St. (between Park & Madison)
BDFVNQRW to 34th St.-Herald Square or 6 train to 33rd Street

Psychologists, physicians, and other personnel who were trained and licensed to heal were instrumental in creating and maintaining the U.S. government’s policy of torture in its overseas prisons. Health professionals designed torture tactics, directly inflicted and supervised abuse, gauged harm, and enabled, covered up, and failed to report abuse.

This should not come as a surprise. Most torture regimes - even ones as old as the Holy Roman Empire during the Renaissance and as notorious as the Nazi government in World War II - have relied on health professionals to function.  In fact, because our very own mainland prisons and other places of custody are no strangers to abuse, it is critical that we also explore the role of health professionals in systems of injustice at home.

It's time to hold accountable the healers who have harmed. Accountability matters to survivors of medical torture, whose trauma makes it difficult to trust the physicians and psychologists they depend on for recovery, and to the vast majority of health professionals who take seriously their commitment to do no harm.  It also matters to the rest of us - as patients and members of civil society, we have a right to treatment by health professionals who we can trust, and a right to a government that upholds the law.

Join us on Thursday, May 14, 2009, for a discussion about medical complicity in abuse and how it affects both New York health professionals and patients.  Learn from local psychologists, physicians, legislators, and human rights advocates about how you can help prevent abuse and make sure justice is served.

Last modified 

June 22, 2011