• Panama Human Rights

Sadly Ambassador Arthur Porter died before midnight on June 30, 2015, in a hospital in Panama City.

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Suffering from terminal cancer; he died from metastatic lung cancer.

His death was announced on July 1, 2015, he was found chained to his hospital bed, his family were denied access to visits on humanitarian grounds, despite his ill health, the family personally appealed to the President of Panama: Juan Carlos Varela who denied such access, despite being a devout Catholic.


Some 10 months before Arthur’s death he wrote a letter to the director of prisons Mr Pinson from his prison cell in La Joya protesting about violations of his fundamental human rights.

In 2013, Porter sought a declaration from the United Nations high commissioner for human rights concerning the alleged violation of his basic human rights during his "illegal" imprisonment.


In March, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez ruled that the government of Panama violated Porter's human rights. The report was made during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.


Below are comments from Ambassador Arthur Porter’s Attorney.

Interview # 1


Arthur Porter: "People have asked, 'Why did you not choose to go to Canada rather than fight?'

"My simple answer, I do not believe that I would get a fair hearing," Porter said.

Porter described his living conditions as a "hell hole" while in La Joya prison.

At the time, he said he was suffering from end-stage lung cancer.

"Freshwater, good food, sanitation and health are simply not there," he said.

"I am lucky I am a physician. I have filed various legal petitions including a bail application.

"I have been here for nearly two years and have not seen the inside of a courtroom and have been given no access to any of my documents."

Interview # 2


Dr Arthur Porter (Physician)

Porter received his early education in Sierra Leone and Kenya. After attending the University of Sierra Leone, he studied in England at the University of Cambridge, including its School of Clinical Medicine. Porter earned his M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee and certificates in medical management from Harvard University and the University of Toronto. He also studied at Western University in London, Ontario. He has bestowed a Fellowship and Diplomat status in Healthcare Administration from the American Academy of Medical Administrators.


Following his training in medical and radiation oncology, Porter assumed several senior positions in Canada, including that of the senior specialist at the University of Alberta, Chief of Radiation Oncology at the London Regional Cancer Centre (University of Western Ontario), and Chairman of Oncology at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario.


In 1991, he was appointed Radiation Oncologist-in-chief, professor and chairman of the Detroit Medical Centre and Wayne State University. During the subsequent five years, Porter accepted several other concurrent positions, including Director of Clinical Care at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and associate dean at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.


He also founded a cancer clinic in Nassau, in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, known as the Cancer Centre.


In 1999, Porter was named CEO of the Detroit Medical Centre, a US$1.6 billion health system, which is one of the United States' largest urban health systems and the biggest non-government employer in Detroit. He resigned from this position in 2003.

In 2001, Porter was appointed to the presidential commission charged with reviewing the health care provided by the Department of Defence and the Veterans Administration.

In August 2002, Michigan Governor John Engler appointed Porter to a four-year term as chairman of Michigan's Hospital Commission.


McGill University Health Centre


In February 2004, Porter was appointed as the Director-General and CEO of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Quebec, despite warnings given to McGill University's recruiters in 2003 by the former dean of Wayne State University School of Medicine, John Crissman, as well as articles in the Detroit Free Press revealing his involvement in multiple side businesses.[19] The McGill University Health Centre is one of Canada's largest academic health centres and was engaged in a multibillion-dollar redevelopment project at the time.

On February 12, 2008, Porter, as Director General and CEO of the McGill University Health Centre, announced the launch of the Institute for Strategic Analysis and Innovation website.

Porter completed his second term in December 2011, having handed the academic health centre the largest grant to a single institution from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (nearly $100 million). This was matched by the Quebec government and supported by donors to bring research funding up to $250 million.

Other professional activities


Porter was once president of the American Brachytherapy Society, the American College of Oncology Administrators, the American Cancer Society (Great Lakes); and the American College of Radiation Oncology. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Chancellors of the American College of Radiation Oncology and on the Board of Scientific Counsellors of the National Cancer Institute (USA).


Between 2006 and 2008, Porter served on the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), which oversees government funding for health-related research in Canada. Related to Porter in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research were Michael Fortier, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Tony Clement, the Minister of Health.


In 2008, Porter became a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada when Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him to Canada's Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). After Porter resigned as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee in November 2011, he was subsequently succeeded as chair of the committee by Chuck Strahl.

In 2011, Porter obtained a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport delivered by the Prime Minister, Denzil Douglas. Porter was in charge of developing cancer treatment facilities on the island.



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