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Criteria for AMA Actions on Behalf of Physicians Facing Persecution

AMA Physician Persecution Advisory Group

The following are criteria the PAG considers in determining whether it is appropriate to recommend that the AMA take action on behalf of a physician facing persecution. The AMA can take action on a case only when existing AMA policy supports such action. Beyond this, however, no single criterion listed below is determinative; all are to be considered in concert.

The AMA will take action when:

  1. A physician is facing persecution due to refusing to act contrary to professional ethics (such as refusing to participate in torture, interrogations, force feedings, punitive amputations, other medical procedures intended as punishment of prisoners, and so on);
  2. A physician is facing persecution as a direct result of providing care that meets ethical and professional medical standards (such as for providing necessary care to patients who are enemies of the state);
  3. A physician is facing persecution as a result of speaking out against policies or actions that are clearly contrary to internationally-accepted ethical norms (such as harvesting organs from condemned prisoners, or housing political detainees in psychiatric facilities)
  4. A physician is facing persecution due to the physician’s racial or ethnic background or other factors unrelated to competence or character;
  5. If a physician is not a US citizen, when that physician has a connection to the US, such as through training, work history, family ties, etc. (physicians with or without such ties may also be referred for action to the World Medical Association);
  6. When the existing system of justice where a physician faces persecution is not functioning effectively to protect the physician’s rights;
  7. When a physician faces a risk of abuse or torture while in detention;
  8. The degree to which the facts of the case are clear;
  9. The degree to which information about the case is made available for AMA deliberation (specifically, action may be taken in the absence of clear information if the reason for this lack of clarity is that the alleged persecuting authority is withholding information).

Potential AMA Actions on Behalf of a Persecuted Physician

The AMA may respond in several ways to information about a physician facing persecution, depending on the criteria above and other factors specific to an individual case. AMA actions may include, but are not limited to, the following options.

  1. AMA may write a letter or letters of protest or make other statements to appropriate entities and individuals, such letters or statements may be private or public;
  2. AMA may request to correspond directly with the physician in question;
  3. AMA may requests to meet with the physician in person;
  4. All of these options may also be actions the AMA may request the WMA to pursue.