Consultation on “The Role of Medical Doctors in Justice Process” - 15 - 19 November 2011

A Report:

The Asian Human Rights Commission in collaboration with Centre for Criminal Justice and Research and Nervazhi organized a consultation on “The Role of Medical Doctors in Justice Process” from 15 to 19 November 2011, at Cochin, Kerala.  The delegates consist of 15 Forensic Science Doctors from Sri Lanka and 4 Human Rights Defenders from South India participated in the Consultation. 

Mr. Basil Fernando, Director, Policy and Programme Development, AHRC has introduced the main focus of the consultation and its concerns to effectively investigate and record the causes of custodial torture and deaths.  While describing the role of Medical Professionals involvement in protecting Human Rights, Mr. Basil Fernando has glanced through the difference between the rule of law and Law and order and why it is important to get fair knowledge on human rights instruments. 

Dr. P.J. Alexander narrated his experience, how the Police and Medical Professionals jointly investigate the torture issues.  Dr. V. Kandasamy, Prof. of Forensic Science briefed about the Forensic Doctors role in India by highlighting Kerala Medico-Legal Code.   Medical Professionals  role in justice process is  practically difficult since they bound to interact with the Police, Judiciary, Medical profession and the Public including media which gives enormous pressure and in which the Medical Officers should be confident enough to give justifiable and honest report. 

Dr. Ajith, Judicial Medical Officer from Sri Lanka initiated the open discussion by describing the present role of Judicial Medical Officers (JMO) and their practical difficulties in medical investigation in Sri Lanka and the findings as follows.

·         Reporting and documentation of database
·         Proper infrastructure and equipments
·         Time Management
·         Problems associated with the other departments
·         Instigative delay in investigation
·         Delay in reporting and documentation
·         External interferences and pressure factors
·         Fear factors
·         Rights of the people for getting the reports.

The next consecutive days, the delegates have been involved in discussing and analyzing the findings and also find possible ways and means to overcome the challenges in their duty to protect and promote human rights.  At the concluding, the delegates brought out an action plan by referring several resources available for the discussion, including Kerala Medico-Legal Code, Formats for Medico-Legal Certification, UN’s Istanbul Protocol manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.   The first draft of the Action Plan is forwarded to AHRC to work out further to refine the content on the International standard.  Then the final version of the Action plan will be forwarded to concern departments in Sri Lanka for further action. 

During this consultation, the delegates requested Mr. Basil Fernando to briefly explain about Human Rights and its Protection Mechanism.   Mr. Basil Fernando took a half day session and made the delegates to get fair knowledge on Human Rights.  

This consultation comes to an end with the spirit to promote human rights culture among every professionals dealing with human beings.  Mr. Bijo Franchis coordinated the programme.

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