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Care of Detainees and Prisoners (1975)
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Role of the Nurse in the Care of Detainees and Prisioners
Resolution adopted by the Council of National Representatives of the International Council of Nurses (ICN), Singapore, August 1975.
WHEREAS the ICN Code for Nurses specifically states that
1. "The fundamental responsibility of the nurse is fourfold: to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health and to alleviate suffering."
2. "The nurse's primary responsibility is to those people who require nursing care".
3. "The nurse when acting in a professional capacity should at all times maintain standards of personal conduct which reflect credit upon the profession"
4. "The nurse takes appropriate action to safeguard the individual when his care is endangered by a co-worker or any other person," and
WHEREAS in 1973 ICN reaffirmed support for the Red Cross Rights and Duties of Nurses under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which specifically state that, in case of armed conflict of international as well as national character (ie internal disorders, civil wars, armed rebellions):
1. Members of the armed forces, prisoners and persons taking no active part in the hostilities
a) shall be entitled to protection and care if wounded or sick,
b) shall be treated humanely, that is:
-they may not be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest,
-they shall not be wilfully left without medical assistance and care, nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be created,
-they shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party in conflict in whose power they may be, without adverse distinction founded on sex, race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or any other similar criteria.
2. The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons: a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; b) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.
WHEREAS in 1971 ICN endorsed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, hence, accepted that
1. "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (article 2)."
2. "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (article 5);" and
WHEREAS in relation to detainees and prisoners of conscience, interrogation procedures are increasingly being employed which result in ill effects, often permanent, on the person's mental and physical health;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that ICN condemns the use of all such procedures harmful to the mental and physical health of prisoners and detainees; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that nurses having knowledge of physical or mental ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners take appropriate action including reporting the matter to appropriate national and/or international bodies; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that nurses participate in clinical research carried out on prisoners, only if the freely given consent of the patient has been secured after a complete explanation and understanding by the patient of the nature and risk of the research; and
FINALLY BE IT RESOLVED that the nurse's first responsibility is towards her patients, notwithstanding considerations of national security and interest.