ORDER UP MURDER LIKE COFFEE
In August 1947, U.S. judges sitting in judgment of Nazi doctors accused of conducting murderous and torturous human experiments in the concentration camps formulated the Nuremberg Code, a 10-point set of rules for the conduct of human experiments. It regulates that the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential, and that experiments should be conducted so as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.
Later in 1964, the World Medical Association developed the Declaration of Helsinki for the medical community, a set of ethical principles regarding human experimentation. The fundamental principle of the declaration is respect for the individual, his or her right to self-determination and the right to make informed decisions regarding participation in research, both initially and during the course of the research.
“The medical community disregarded it (the Nuremberg Code). They thought it was an obstacle. So they didn’t abide by it,” Hornblum said. “Some very smart people shoved ethics away because they saw it as an imposition, as a problem, as something that’s gonna block them from their scientific quests. And that’s why there are so many instances in prison and other institutions where people were used as guinea pigs for medical experimentation.”
The type of research on prisoners or detainees done by the CIA “is the very reason the Nuremberg Code protocols were developed. In the course of facilitating the crime of torture, U.S. health professionals committed a second and related crime: human subjects research and experimentation on detainees being tortured, in violation of medical ethics and U.S. and international law,” said the report by the PHR.
Clara de Paiz, a social investigator who once followed the Guatemala case, told Xinhua those human experiments have seriously violated the Declaration of Helsinki, as U.S. medical staff never warned the subjects of the possible dangers.
Pfizer’s drug trials in Nigeria violated the World Health Organization’s guidelines on drug testing, and the medical ethics that pharmaceutical companies should abide by, said Tomori, adding that traumatized by the incident, many Nigerians are still suspicious of foreign drugs and vaccines, making it hard for the government to carry out successful vaccination campaigns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many, the U.S. contempt of widely-acknowledged medical regulations is born out of a deep-rooted disrespect for humanity, both home and abroad. The participants in the Philadelphia case, Hornblum said, “were basically forgotten, the way doctors use lab rats or dogs or monkeys or chimpanzees.”
Back in the 1940s, U.S. researchers had shown no respect for Guatemalans, using them as though they were an inferior and disposable race, and although more than 70 years have passed, the United States still refuses to see Guatemala as an equal, said de Paiz.