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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Guantanamo Bay doctors under fire
Guantanamo Bay prisoner praying
The camp currently houses about 490 detainees
An NI doctor has criticised the World Medical Association for not tackling the role doctors are playing at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

Dr Iain Banks said it was a scandal that doctors were "becoming involved in torture practices".

He said the practices were "the worst thing doctors can be involved in".

The camp currently houses about 490 detainees from about 40 countries, and is said to include terrorist suspects picked up in Eastern Europe and Africa.

Dr Banks said: "Not having the WMA taking a strong stance on this is a nonsense."

He said prisoners had been force-fed under the direct supervision of US doctors.

It is a disgrace when you have something like Guantanamo, but it becomes a scandal when you have doctors actually involved in torture practices as well
Dr Iain Banks

The doctor, who practices in Ballynahinch in County Down, is raising the matter at the British Medical Association's conference in Belfast on Thursday.

"Guantanamo is completely outside of the normal regulations and the normal ethos for an international community," he told BBC News.

"There is now an international cry to close down Guantanamo.

"It is quite amazing when the president of the United States says that he would like to see it closed, but seems powerless to do anything about it.

"It is a disgrace when you have something like Guantanamo, but it becomes a scandal when you have doctors actually involved in torture practices as well.

"Unfortunately, there is a history of doctors and torture that goes back a long way, not least to Auschwitz."

'Intense scrutiny'

Dr Banks said he acknowledged that it was the most serious allegation which could be made against a doctor.

"But what is critical about this is that the American government, and indeed the American doctors who are involved in this, seem to be unable to accept that what they are doing is unacceptable.

"To have a doctor involved in actually harming patients - even if it is for the state - is still wrong.

Two detainees at Camp Four, Camp Delta, Guantanamo base
Governments and rights groups have deplored the camp

"These are people who are being held against their will with no court proceedings."

The US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay has come under intense scrutiny since it began to receive foreign detainees in early 2002.

The US has faced frequent attacks for holding inmates without trial and for their alleged mistreatment.

United Nations human rights investigators have called for the camp's immediate closure.

But the US government has been steadfast in its defence of the camp and says inmates are treated humanely.

Housed on a naval base in Cuba, the camp was established to hold suspected terrorists captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan.

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