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Response to the doctor’s refusal to examine the victim of domestic violence and rape in a timely manner

WHAT ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF PATIENTS / VICTIMS?

WRC is concerned about fo the recent developments and information of the relevant institutions regarding the refusal of the doctor of the Clinical Center of Montenegro to timely examine the victim of domestic violence and rape.

This is another in a series of recent events that show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility in the treatment of women who suffered violence, and therefore require calling for responsibility of the authorities and establishing clear guidelines for health workers in cases of sexual violence and the cooperation with other institutions in the system, especially the police and the judiciary.

We do not need to emphasize the fact that rape is one of the most traumatic forms of violence against women, especially when the perpetrator is a close person, partner or family member, and that the competent institutions including the health sector with which victims often have first contact, are obliged to provide victims with emergency and sensitive health services, which will not further traumatize them.

In the mentioned case, the victim was exposed to other forms of domestic violence in addition to sexual violence, and her overall condition and surviving trauma required particularly sensitive and timely intervention by a competent doctor and a doctor’s consultation which, as stated in the announcement of the Clinical Center and the Medical Chamber (Portal Vijesti 15.10.2021. 17: 00h) was necessary in order to comply with internal procedures in these cases.

In addition to the defense of a colleague, we expect the KC and the Medical Chamber to deal with issues of the principles of medical ethics and respect for the rights of the patient , who waited for an examination from to morning hours of the next day.

Has the patient’s right to respect for her human dignity, equality and self-determination been taken into account, along with the right to alleviate suffering and pain at every stage of illness and condition, at all levels of health care (Law on Patients’ Rights of Montenegro)?

Did the mentioned doctors respecthe rights, freedoms, autonomy and human dignity of the patient and did they follow the principles of charity, infliction of the least harm and the principles of justice in their actions? (Medical Code of Ethics)

In addition to answering these questions, there is also the question of the consequences that such actions of health professionals may have on investigative actions and gathering evidence that are within the competence of the police and prosecution, which the prosecutor rightly insisted on. because the victim’s access to justice and her future protection from violence also depends on their timeliness.

Therefore, we consider the mentioned explanation of the Clinical Center and the Medical Chamber, which refer to internal procedures that cannot be above the applicable standards prescribed by national legislation governing health care, protection of patients’ rights and protection from domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention and the current Protocol on the Conduct of Institutions in Cases of Domestic Violence and Violence against Women.

The explanation stated in the announcement of the Clinical center and the Medical Chamber, that the departure of the doctor to the prosecutor’s office “could cause incalculable damage to all hospitalized patients in that ward, but also to potential emergencies that could be candidates for surgery ” is also problematic. Isn’t a victim of rape and domestic violence a patient in need of urgent health care, or is the right of other patients to health services more important than the right of a patient who is a victim of rape and domestic violence? After all, there are 3 doctors on duty in the department.

We have learned from the media that a meeting was held between representatives of the Police Administration, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Clinical Center of Montenegro, in order to harmonize procedures, but no information has been published on how to proceed in these cases, how to protect the rights of victims and whether the danger of a similar situation recurring has been permanently eliminated.

We ask the Clinical Center and the Medical Chamber to inform the public about the measures they have taken so that victims of sexual and domestic violence receive appropriate treatment, without undue delay and so as not to be exposed to the humiliating and traumatic situation the victim was exposed to in the current case.

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