The Criminalisation of Healthcare

(June 2018)

Hannah, J., Rubenstein, L., Buissoniere, M. and Woznick, S.,(2018)

Long-standing principles of humanity and human dignity embodied in international humanitarian and human rights law entitle all people, regardless of their beliefs, affiliation or status, to have access to healthcare in war and in peacetime. The principle applies to wounded and sick combatants, to civilians in armed conflict, as well as to people living in societies that face threats from terrorism. The ethics of the medical profession mirror these values as practitioners have a duty to provide care without discrimination, including if a person is labelled an enemy or a terrorist. International law recognizes the imperative to enable health providers to carry out these duties without fear of punishment so that all people can receive the care they require.
In recent decades, though, and especially after the attacks of September 11, 2001, contrary to these principles, states have punished the very act of providing or seeking to provide medical care to people who are labelled terrorists or affiliated with terrorist organizations. Read more