States Must Not Criminalize Health Care; International Community Must Elevate Issue

Inter Press Service: Countries are Using Domestic Laws to Criminalize Health Care
Dainius Pūras, U.N. special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

“…Whether it’s vague counter-terrorism legislation, misguided domestic laws and policies, or harsh administrative sanctions, states are often turning to domestic laws to criminalize health care. … Health professionals have a duty to care for the sick, wounded, and injured, regardless of their patients’ political affiliation or which side of a conflict they are on. … Whether a foe or an ally, a patient is a patient. … As the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to health, I have examined this issue during my country missions and engaged directly with governments as cases of medical professionals under threat have come to my attention. … States must review and amend their laws to ensure they explicitly shield the sick and wounded and those who care for them. Military, police, and security forces must be instructed that patients cannot be denied care, regardless of their affiliation. This requires both a normative as well as a cultural shift in how state structures uphold everyone’s basic dignity and rights. The international community must elevate this issue to ensure the protection of health care permeates the entire U.N. family…” (6/21).