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PHR Welcomes APA Vote to Maintain Anti-Torture Protections

For Immediate Release

During its annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, the American Psychological Association (APA) today voted against changing its 2015 ban on psychologists participating in national security interrogations and practicing at illegal detention sites like Guantánamo Bay. Instead, decisions on any proposed amendments have been tabled until February 2017, when the APA’s governing Council of Representatives will reconvene.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcomed that decision. The following statement is attributable to PHR’s Sarah Dougherty, senior anti-torture fellow:

“The APA’s decision sends a strong message that psychologists stand by their new ethics policies and will not participate in torture and other illegal and inhumane practices. It is incredibly important for the APA to maintain these anti-torture protections, following a recent history of collusion and compromised values. We urge the APA to continue its commitment to reform and reaffirming the core ethical duty to do no harm.

“Health professionals should never be used to legitimize torture and other violations of human rights. We are glad the APA today has resisted pressure from a select few to rewind its policies, and we urge the organization to continue down that path. The APA’s actions today still do not absolve those psychologists who helped plan, oversee, and inflict torture, a gross violation of their ethical duties.”

Since 2005, PHR has documented the systematic use of detainee torture by U.S. personnel in a series of reports. PHR has repeatedly called for an end to the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, an end to indefinite detention without trial, the closure of Guantánamo Bay detention center, a federal investigation into the role of health professionals in the U.S. torture program, and full criminal and professional accountability for any health professionals involved.

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.

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Kevin Short

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