US Seeks to Dismiss Guatemala Syphilis Lawsuit

Filed January 11th, 2012 tmccoy

According to, the federal government is trying to have a lawsuit dismissed that was filed last year on behalf of the victims of non-consensual Guatemala medical experiments conducted by US government researchers in the 1940’s.

The Guatemalan lawsuit, alleges that more than 1,300 Guatemalan citizens, including soldiers, mental patients, and prisoners, were intentionally infected with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases by researchers for the U.S. public health services from 1946 through 1948. These experiments were conducted without the knowledge or consent of the subjects.

On Monday, lawyers for the Justice Department filed motions seeking dismissal of the lawsuit, according to The Washington Times. While lawyers for the government said the US is “committed to taking appropriate steps to address that wrong,” they wrote, “this lawsuit is not the proper vehicle – and this Court is not the proper forum – through which the consequences of this shameful conduct may be resolved.”

Some are calling on the government to do more. “We’re missing the piece of what will be provided as a direct remedy” to study survivors, said Ruth Faden, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. She also told the Post that there was precedent for the U.S. government to pay victims of unethical experiments, citing restitution made in the 1990s to victims of radiation experiments conducted by the U.S. military in the 1940s and 1950. Victims of the Tuskegee experiments also eventually received restitution.

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