Council Votes to Approve Motions at its August 2005 Meeting in Response to the PENS Report

Council reviewed the PENS Report at its August 2005 meeting and voted to approve the following motions in response to the report:

  1. Council reaffirms the following Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment (originally adopted by Council in 1986):

    WHEREAS the American psychologists are bound by the Ethical Principles to “respect the dignity and worth of the individual and strive for the preservation and protection of fundamental human rights” and;

    WHEREAS the existence of state-sponsored torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment has been documented in many nations around the world and;

    WHEREAS psychological knowledge and techniques may be used to design and carry out torture and;

    WHEREAS torture victims may suffer from long-term, multiple psychological and physical problems,

    BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association condemns torture wherever it occurs, and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association supports the U.N. Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the U.N. Principles of Medical Ethics, as well as the joint congressional Resolution opposing torture that was signed into law by President Reagan on October 4, 1984.
  2. Council endorses APA creating a process whereby interested individuals and groups, from in- and outside APA, be asked to comment on the report in order to raise questions or concerns, for the purpose of writing an informative casebook and commentary with illustrative examples, with a comment period until December 31, 2005. 

    Council also requests that an item be forwarded to the Board at its December meeting that will address funding for a meeting of the PENS Task Force, which will write the casebook and commentary in collaboration with the APA Ethics Committee.

  3. Council requests that the APA Ethics Committee, with consultation from the PENS Task Force as appropriate, continues to examine the goodness of fit between the Ethics Code and this area of research and practice.
  4. Council requests that the Ethics Committee and Office begin to develop a process to offer ethics consultation to psychologists whose work involves classified material and who seek ethical guidance.
  5. Council requests that the Ethics Committee, in consultation with the PENS Task Force, the Board of Professional Affairs, the Board of Scientific Affairs and Division 19, be charged with developing a statement or resolution to be forwarded to Council for adoption that will address further research relevant to national security, including evaluation of the efficacy and effectiveness of methods for gathering information that is accurate, relevant, and reliable. The statement or resolution should make clear that such research should be designed to minimize risks such as emotional distress to research participants and other individuals involved in interrogation processes, and should be consistent with standards of human subject research protection and the APA Ethics Code.
  6. Council requests that the Ethics Committee, in consultation with the PENS Task Force, the Board of Professional Affairs, the Board of Scientific Affairs and Division 19, be charged with developing a statement or resolution to be forwarded to Council for adoption, recognizing that issues involving terrorism and national security affect citizens in all countries and so encouraging behavioral scientists to collaborate across disciplines, cultures, and countries in addressing these critical concerns.
  7. Council requests that the APA Central Office explore the feasibility of creating a repository to record psychologists’ contributions to national security that will serve as a historical record and a resource concerning how psychologists involved in national security-related activities have met the ethical challenges of their work. Exploring the feasibility of creating such a repository will take into consideration that much of the relevant material may be classified and thus not publicly available.
  8. Council requests that the APA Ethics Committee review the discrepancy between the language of the Introduction and Applicability section of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standard 1.02, and make a recommendation to the Board of Directors concerning adding the words “in keeping with basic principles of human rights” to Ethical Standard 1.02.  Council requests that this process move forward as expeditiously as reasonably possible, recognizing that a proposed amendment to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct will be subject to the review procedures required by Association Rule 30-8, Standards and Guidelines, and final Council action.
  9. Council acknowledges, based on the U.N. Convention Against Torture, that there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether induced by a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, that may be invoked as a justification for torture, including the invocation of laws, regulations, or orders.
  10. Council directs APA to publicize both within and outside APA the 1986 resolution concerning human rights and torture.
  11. In light of concerns about the possibility that individuals may have directly or indirectly participated   in cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or torture at Guantanamo Bay and in other national or international situations, Council directs that any specific allegations against an APA member shall be referred to the Ethics Office.