The Psychology of Torture

Last year, The American Psychological Association called on the U.S. government to ban at

least 19 specific abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that are regarded as torture by international standards. The 2007 resolution also recognized that “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment can result not only from the behavior of individuals, but also from the conditions of confinement,” and expressed “grave concern over settings in which detainees are deprived of adequate protection of their human rights.”

This year, according to a September 17 release, the APA passed a petition resolution stating that

psychologists may not work in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights”

The final vote was 8,792 voting in favor of the resolution; 6,157 voting against the resolution. It will not take effect until August 2009; however, Psychologists for an Ethical APA, which sponsored the resolution and others, such as Withhold APA Dues, have pressed for a quicker implementation. The


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