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Letter from former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez urging APA to maintain ban on military psychologists at Guantanamo

For Immediate Release

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Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Juan E. Méndez has issued a letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) in advance of its August 2018 annual meeting, urging it to reject the proposed amendment to its policy on the role of military and operational psychologists in detention facilities. As Méndez states, “The current policy dictates that only independent psychologists, who are working directly for the detainee or for an independent third party working to protect human rights, can provide assessment and treatment for detainees held in conditions that violate international human rights law, such as at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility or at CIA “black sites.” Adoption of APA’s New Business Item 35B (35B) would permit military psychologists, who must answer to the detaining State (i.e., who work for the Department of Defense or the intelligence agencies), to provide such treatment and assessment. Adopting 35B would be a disturbing reversal in the fight against torture and open the door to future abuse.”

In his letter, Méndez notes that the proponents of NBI 36B misapply the relevant international law while also flagging credible reports that “medical practitioners at Guantánamo have systematically ignored the effects of torture and ill-treatment and have permitted the violation of treatment confidentiality.” This includes documentation of neglect of medical evidence of torture by PHR experts Dr. Vincent Iacopino and Brig. Gen. Stephen N. Xenakis: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001027

Read the full letter here >>

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.