Amnesty International: Nurses and Human Rights

AI Index: ACT 75/02/97. June 1997

Amnesty International USA 322 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10001 $4.00

“Nursing shares with other health professions a commitment to the well-being of the patient and to a professional practice based on codes of ethics. Over the past two decades, national and and international nurses associations have refined their principles to reflect an increasing commitment to human rights and the protection of the patient. However, because of their frontline work…there are persistent risks of nurses being victimised as a result of their witnessing abuses …On the other hand they may risk being pressured to collaborate in, or remain silent about, abuses occurring in their presence or with their knowledge.”

The Nurse’s role in Safeguarding Human Rights…”nurses have individual responsibility but they can often be more effective if they approach human rights issues as a group”.

The Nurse’s Role in the Care of Detainees and Prisoners, first adopted in 1975, reaffirms ICN support for the Geneva Conventions endorses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights..”nurses having knowledge of physical or mental ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners must take appropriate action including reporting the matter to appropriate national and/or international bodies”.

Nurses and Torture. “This statement, adopted in 1989, notes that nurses may be called on to carry out a number of functions which assist torturers. It …prohibits the nurse from assisting in any way in torture and urges national nurses associations to provide a mechanism to support nurses in difficult situations.”

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