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US Torture

In early 2003, when reports of torture by US military personnel began to surface publicly, PHR committed to investigating allegations of US torture, advocating against its practice and mobilizing health professionals to advocate for an end to these abuses.

As evidence of US national security interrogation practices emerged, it became clear that psychologically abusive methods of interrogation were at the core of US intelligence gathering.

In response to US personnel's systematic infliction of psychological and physical torture against detainees, PHR seeks to restore the US commitment against torture, to ensure humane treatment of detainees, and to protect US health personnel from complicity in mistreatment and harm.

More about PHR's work in stopping torture and bringing about accountability:

>> Psychological and Physical Torture

>> PHR's Papers and Reports on US Torture

>> MA and NY Legislation to Sanction Health Professionals Who Torture

Physicians for Human Rights Welcomes Effort to Improve U.S. Military’s Guidelines for Health Professionals (October 13, 2015)

PHR said it strongly supports an initiative urging the Pentagon to adopt measures prohibiting doctors and other health professionals from participating in interrogations, force-feeding, and other actions that violate the ethical duty to “do no harm.”

Lawsuit Filed Against CIA Torture Psychologists (October 13, 2015)

PHR welcomed a federal lawsuit against psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the architects of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.

France Opens Investigation into Torture in Syria (October 1, 2015)

PHR today welcomed an announcement that France has opened the world’s first criminal inquiry into torture in Syria.

Ban on Psychologists’ Participation in Interrogations Passes (August 7, 2015)

PHR welcomed a decision by the American Psychological Association to ban psychologists from participating in national security interrogations and advising on their confinement conditions, and to withdraw their presence from Guantánamo and other sites operating illegally.

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American Psychological Association’s First Step Toward Accountability (August 10, 2015)

When the American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives voted Friday morning to rescind its policy allowing psychologists to participate in the interrogation of security detainees, it was a tectonic shift.

The Brutal Toll of Psychologists' Role in Torture (August 6, 2015)

While there is no question that the APA has much work to do to repair the damage to its integrity and to restore people's faith in the discipline of psychology, it is worth remembering that myriad individuals suffered directly as a result of this collusion. Over the last 13 years, more than 750 detainees have spent time in a rights-free zone that is the detention center at Guantánamo Bay.

Closing Guantánamo Is Imperative, But Not Enough (January 23, 2015)

During President Obama’s State of the Union address, he reaffirmed his commitment to closing the notorious prison at Guantánamo: Since I’ve been president, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of Gitmo in half. Now it is time to finish the job, and I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It is not who we are. It’s time to close Gitmo.

Psychologists Must Stand by their Ethical Obligations (August 11, 2014)

American psychologists designed and oversaw the brutal regime of interrogation used on detainees in U.S. military custody at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and elsewhere during the U.S. war on terror; but the profession has yet to punish any psychologist who participated in torture or to fully distance itself from this legacy.

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Preliminary Statement on the Hoffman Report (August 2015)

PHR’s statement outlines key findings of the Hoffman report and provides recommendations for accountability, policy reform, and justice.

Letter to APA Leadership on Prohibiting Psychologists' Participation in Interrogations (July 2015)

PHR's executive director sent a letter to leaders of the American Psychological Association supporting recommendations on prohibiting psychologists’ participation in interrogations.

Navy Nurse Press Call (May 2015)

Physicians for Human Rights commends the U.S. Navy’s decision not to discharge the nurse who refused to participate in the force-feeding of Guantánamo detainees.

Open Letter to the Government of Bahrain (March 2015)

Physicians for Human Rights, partner organizations, and human rights activists call on the government on Bahrain to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience in the country in the aftermath of the 2011 popular uprising.

More Torture Research »

Our Work

Broken Laws, Broken Lives

PHR's report details for the first time medical evidence confirming first-hand accounts of men who endured torture by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay. These men were never charged with any crime. Read More »