APA Letter Sends 'Clear Message' That Psychologists Reject US Torture

"Psychology as a profession is based upon an ethical duty to 'do no harm,'" said Dr. Stephen Soldz of the orgnanization Physicians for Human Rights. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

APA Letter Sends 'Clear Message' That Psychologists Reject US Torture

The prestigious organization notified the U.S. government it will no longer allow members to collude in torture

The American Psychological Association (APA) this week formally requested that the U.S. government "safeguard psychologists from involvement in any national security interrogations or detention settings" that would violate human rights, including torture.

The APA on Thursday notified President Barack Obama, the Pentagon, CIA, Congress, and other federal agencies of a series of policy changes adopted by the Association at its annual meeting in August.

According to a statement from the group, these reforms stipulate the following:

1) Participate in national security interrogations or conditions of confinement that might facilitate such interrogations;

2) Work at detention settings operating in violation of the U.S. Constitution or international law (as deemed by specific U.N. authorities), including the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, unless providing treatment to military personnel or working directly for the detainees or for an independent third party to protect human rights. APA asked that any such psychologists be offered deployment elsewhere.

The APA's latest move follows international outcry--including from within medical communities--at revelations that the prestigious organization secretly helped the administration of former President George W. Bush legally and medically justify its post-9/11 torture program.

"The APA's letters send a clear message to the U.S. government that the psychology profession unequivocally rejects policies of torture and abuse, and they set appropriate limits on what psychologists can do in national security contexts," declared Dr. Stephen Soldz, anti-torture adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, in a press statement released Friday.

"Psychology as a profession is based upon an ethical duty to 'do no harm,'" Soldz continued. "National security interrogations, even ones which are not torturous, violate that duty. The government should respect professional ethics and not ask military psychologists to violate APA policy, even in service of their country."

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