#Human Rights
American Psychological Association
United States of America

Psychologist Neil Altman, a member of APA's Council, along with 16 co-sponsors, is bringing to Council a Resolution tentatively entitled "A moratorium on psychologist involvement in interrogations at US detention centers for foreign detainees" calling for a moratorium on all psychologist involvement, either direct or indirect, in any interrogations at U.S. detention centers for foreign detainees or citizens detained outside normal legal channels.

The resolution has the support of the Divisions of Social Justice, representing 12 divisions of the APA.

The Resolution states: "This moratorium is necessary as detainees may be currently denied protections outlined under the Geneva Conventions and interrogations techniques in violation of the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment may be considered acceptable practice according to the Military Commissions Bill of 2006" Thus far, the American Psychological Association (APA) has not made it clear that it is unethical for psychologists to participate in interrogations of alleged enemy combatants, nor to insist that psychologists may only work under conditions which are consistent with international standards of basic human rights. In this, the APA is virtually alone among the health professions and casts doubt upon its support of fundamental human rights.

Since the commencement of the so-called "war on terror", news reports have repeatedly brought disturbing news of torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of those deemed "enemy combatants." Potential abuses have been reported at the detention centers at Guantanamo Naval base, in detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at a number of secret CIA detention centers around the world. These abuses have been condemned by the United Nations Committee on Torture, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the European Parliament, Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross and numerous other national and international organizations concerned with human rights.

These abuses have been reported both during general treatment of these detainees and during interrogations. A central part of the interrogation process has been the participation of health professionals, most notably psychologists, in the interrogation process. Such participation has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Nursing Association. The American Anthropological Association has prohibited its members from contributing their expertise to these endeavors for the same reasons.

Given the repeated news reports of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of those deemed enemy combatants, the authorization given by the 2006 Military Commissions Act to the President for "harsh treatment" of detainees, as well as the lack of any legal protections for these detainees, it is time for the APA join the other health professions by acting on its stated support for human rights and to protect its members by calling a moratorium on psychologist involvement in interrogations of these detainees.

Some of us believe that psychologists should never participate in these interrogations. Others of us believe that such participation is acceptable provided fundamental human rights are respected and no harm, physical or mental, is done to those interrogated. But we are all in agreement that a moratorium is vitally necessary in the current conditions.

We, the undersigned psychologists, call upon the APA Board of Directors to bring to Council and urge approval of the Moratorium Resolution.

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The Petition For Moratorium on Psychologist Involvement in U.S. Detention Centers for Foreign Detainees petition to American Psychological Association was written by Scot Evans and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.