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For Immediate Release

PHR Salutes APA's Ban on Psychologists at Illegal U.S. Interrogations

Cambridge, Mass - 10/02/2008

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) CEO Frank Donaghue congratulates American Psychological Association (APA) President Alan E. Kazdan, PhD, who wrote to President George W. Bush on October 2 to inform him of a significant change in APA policy that limits the roles of psychologists at illegal U.S. detention facilities, such as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and CIA black sites overseas, where systematic torture has occurred.

Cambridge, MA. (PRWEB) October 2, 2008 - "APA's announcement today is a historic victory for medical ethics and human rights," said Physicians for Human Rights CEO Frank Donaghue. "PHR salutes the APA for telling President Bush that psychologists can no longer serve at illegal US facilities that violate the Constitution and international human rights standards. This dramatic policy reversal represents a massive transformation by an organization that has until now encouraged members to assist interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and CIA black sites overseas."

The Association's policy reversal was driven by a first-of-its-kind referendum, pushed by a reform movement among its members, with PHR's active support. PHR has been campaigning since 2005 for the APA to end psychologists' participation in U.S. national security interrogations. Government and press reports have confirmed that military and intelligence psychologists were central to the design, implementation, and supervision of the Bush administration's regime of psychological and physical torture.

"The Pentagon and the CIA must now abide by the APA's new policy and immediately cease employing psychologists as part of detainee interrogations," stated Donaghue. "The Bush Administration's interrogation policies have inflicted grievous damage to the core principles of medical ethics and the rule of law. The APA's statement today is a watershed moment in the fight to stop psychologists from being used to cause harm and return them to their appropriate role as healers."

The Department of Defense is expected this month to review the operational guidance for BSCTs (Behavioral Science Consultation Teams), which use mental health professionals in detainee interrogations—an application which violates international standards of health professional ethics. PHR has led the public and behind-the-scenes effort to shut down the BSCT program.

"While today is a proud day for the APA and its membership, the APA must now act to permanently prohibit direct participation by psychologists in interrogations and to ensure those psychologists who engaged in abuse and torture are held to account," said Donaghue. "The APA has taken a tremendous step forward but has not yet reached the ethical standards of the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, organizations which have banned direct participation by physicians in all interrogations. Also, the APA has not yet specified what rights abuses would render a detention facility illegal under its new policy."

> More on PHR's Campaign Against Torture

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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