Hunger Strike - Legal Situation

Legal Situation

Article 6 of the 1975 World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo states that doctors can undertake force-feeding under certain restricted rules and only where a second, independent physician is consulted and agrees to the move:-

"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. The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician. The consequences of the refusal of nourishment shall be explained by the physician to the prisoner."

The World Medical Association (WMA) recently revised and updated its Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers. Among many changes, it unambiguously states that force feeding is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment in its Article 21.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is a member of the WMA, but the AMA's members are not bound by the WMA's decisions, neither organization has formal legal powers, and the AMA has not stated its position on hunger strikers. The United States Code of Federal Regulations rule on hunger strikes by prisoners states, "It is the responsibility of the Bureau of Prisons to monitor the health and welfare of individual inmates, and to ensure that procedures are pursued to preserve life." It further provides that when "a medical necessity for immediate treatment of a life or health threatening situation exists, the physician may order that treatment be administered without the consent of the inmate."

Read more about this topic:  Hunger Strike

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