Doctors have expressed reservations to a clause in the Coroner’s Office Bill that forces medical practitioners to carry out post-mortems as directed by the coroner.
Speaking during a public hearing in Bulawayo by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on Tuesday, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) Francis Chiwora argued that the clause violates doctors’ constitutional right. He said:
There is a section where it says the coroner-general has the power to appoint any medical officer to carry out a post mortem and if he or she does not do it without any valid reason, he or she becomes answerable.
In as much as the law does not force doctors to treat anybody, now when the person is dead you want to give somebody the power to force a doctor to do a post mortem, which is highly unethical.
Section 7 (4) of the Coroner’s Office Bill states that any medical practitioner who, without lawful excuse, fails or refuses to conduct a post-mortem when summoned to do so under subsection (3) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.