APA Prohibits Psychologists from Assisting Interrogations
The American Psychological Association has notified President Bush of a significant change in the association’s policy that limits the roles of psychologists in certain unlawful detention settings where the human rights of detainees are violated.
The new policy is in response to actions that have occurred at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at so-called CIA black sites around the world.
“The effect of this new policy is to prohibit psychologists from any involvement in interrogations or any other operational procedures at detention sites that are in violation of the U.S. Constitution or international law (e.g., the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture),” says the letter, from APA President Alan E. Kazdin, PhD.
“In such unlawful detention settings, persons are deprived of basic human rights and legal protections, including the right to independent judicial review of their detention.”
The roles of psychologists at such sites would now be limited to working directly for the people being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights, or to providing treatment to military personnel.
The blanket prohibition represents a significant change of course for the APA. Just last year, the Association rejected a similar policy, contenting itself with prohibiting its members from participating in interrogations involving a number of specific practices, such as sleep deprivation and forced nakedness. Moreover, the new policy clearly remains controversial: the final vote was 8,792 in favor, 6,157 against.
The American Medical Assocation and the American Psychiatric Association also prohibit their members from being involved in interrogations.