We were deeply concerned to hear about the arrest of Dr Şebnem Korur Fincancı by the Turkish authorities on Wednesday, October 26 2022, and their request to a court to dismiss her from her post as President of the Turkish Medical Association.
Dr. Fincanci has spent her life defending the rights of those at risk of torture. She collaborated with global partners to develop the Istanbul Protocol (Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment), which is considered the international standard for forensic investigations of torture. She has investigated mass graves in Bosnia on behalf of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and deaths in detention in Bahrain, Israel and the Philippines. Amongst the many awards Dr Fincanci has received is the Medical Peace Work Award, presented to her by Medact and others in recognition of her invaluable work in this area.
Dr Fincanci’s arrest followed her participation in a media broadcast in which she spoke about the alleged use of chemical weapons in northern Iraq and called for an effective and independent investigation into these allegations.
Among many calls for her release, the World Medical Association has issued a statement which includes a demand for a stop to the ongoing harassment of the Turkish Medical Association. It is essential to uphold the independent role of professional health organizations for the right to health of all, as well as for the protection of medical colleagues carrying out their duty of care.
Medact, an organisation of health professionals, calls for the immediate release of Dr Fincanci, and for the essential work of the Turkish Medical Association to be allowed to continue without hindrance.