3. While the respondent was a soldier at the time of performing the act, under consideration his conduct had to be assessed in light of the fact that he was probably ordered to perform the acts alleged because he was a doctor and the skills and experience in being a qualified doctor played a major role in his activities.
The committee was of the opinion that if a doctor decided to use his medical knowledge and skills for actions contrary to medical ethics, then he should deregister from the council.
The respondent could not rely on the contention that he acted as a soldier to the charge of breach of medical ethics.
4. Medical ethics are similar inside and outside the military. Doctors in the military in South Africa are bound by the ethical rules generally applicable to doctors.
5. The duties and roles of a doctor include the promotion of health in the general public and not only individual patients.
The committee held that the respondent could not rely on the absence of doctor-patient relationship as an answer to the charge of unprofessional conduct.
6. Dr Basson was fully accountable for his actions as he was a registered specialist physician in 1980, and the committee further regarded him not as a young follower, but a mature leader of the chemical warfare programme.
7. It behoves a medical practitioner who ventures in the field of chemical weaponry to acquaint himself adequately on the terms and possible applicability of conventions and ethical rules created thereby.
High standards of professional behaviour are required at all times from medical practitioners.
8. Although the discipline of medical ethics was not prominent in the 1980s, the principles of putting the interests of the patient first were accepted and applied universally.
No doctor can claim ignorance of the expected professional behaviour of a medical doctor.
9. The committee rejected the contention that ethical principles do not apply to the manufacture and use of these substances.
Men In White Coats Biological Weapons South Africa Pt1 of 3