ResourcesPress Release

Psychologists Prohibited from Abusive US Detention Centers

For Immediate Release

The following is a statement from Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights, in response to the prohibition passed today by the American Psychological Association's (APA) membership on psychologist participation at detention facilities that do not adhere to international human rights standards:

"Today PHR salutes the American Psychological Association (APA) membership for restoring the APA's commitment to human rights and medical ethics. For years, the APA has failed to fully address US psychologists' involvement in torture in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, and CIA black sites. This historic vote has moved the APA closer to joining the ranks of the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, which have repudiated health professional involvement in interrogations.

"This turn-around follows revelations by the media and Congress of the central role psychologists played in the design, supervision, and implementation of a regime of psychological and physical torture against detainees held in CIA and Department of Defense custody. For example, CIA psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen have been implicated in the torture of Abu Zubaydah and others. In addition, a U.S. Army psychologist, Lt. Colonel Diane M. Zierhoffer, last month refused to testify about her involvement in the torture of Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, who was captured as a juvenile in 2002.

"Since 2005, PHR has been a leading voice in the campaign to end all health professional involvement in US national security interrogations. The Bush Administration's use of the healing professions as key parts of a wide-spread system of detainee torture and abuse threatens the very foundations of medical ethics. Today, in the largest voter turnout in APA history and by a 17% margin, the membership of the APA struck a blow against medical complicity in torture."

To read more about PHR's Campaign Against Torture, visit

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.

Media Contact

Kevin Short

Deputy Director, Media & Communications1.917.679.0110

Get Updates from PHR