At its August meeting, APA's Council of Representatives broke new ground on its long-standing prohibition against torture and other forms of cruel or degrading treatment by passing a resolution that prohibits over a dozen specific techniques associated with torture and abusive interrogations. The resolution calls upon the U.S. government to ban these techniques.

The resolution, passed by a large majority of the council, reaffirms APA's unequivocal condemnation of torture and for the first time specified interrogation techniques-including water boarding, sexual humiliation, the use of dogs, and exploitation of phobias or psychopathology-as torture and, therefore, strictly prohibited.

"The council's vote further articulates APA's long-standing position against torture and other forms of inhuman treatment," said Stephen Behnke, JD, PhD, director of the APA Ethics Office. "The added strength of this latest statement is its specificity about unethical and therefore prohibited behavior."

In passing the resolution (see full text article Prohibit Unethical Interrogation Techniques), APA called on the U.S. government, including the Congress, the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, to ban the use of the prohibited techniques. The resolution furthermore calls upon U.S. legal systems to reject testimony that results from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

After a lengthy debate, an amendment to the eventually adopted resolution that would have limited psychologists' role in national security detention facilities to that of health-care providers was defeated.

The origins and implication of APA's 2007 resolution against torture will be covered in depth in the November Monitor on Psychology.

In other action, the council:

  • Approved in principle the 2007 revisions to the Recommended Postdoctoral Education and Training Program in Psychopharmacology for Prescription Privileges and the Model Legislation for Prescriptive Authority. These proposed revisions of the 1996 policies retain the model as a postdoctoral program. The 2007 revisions are not yet APA policy, pending future council action on a proposed designation program to ensure program quality, an important new element of the 2007 Model Training Program.

  • Elected 145 new Fellows of the Association (see Congratulations 2007 APA Fellows (PDF, 502KB)).

  • Adopted a policy statement condemning academic boycotts as a violation of academic freedom and a disruption of the exchange of scientific and scholarly ideas.

  • Voted to create four new seats on council for representatives of the Asian American Psychological Association, the Association of Black Psychologists, the National Latina/o Psychological Association and the Society of Indian Psychologists. This action requires a change to the Bylaws and will therefore be up for a vote by the full membership later this year.

  • Approved the draft 2008 preliminary budget including a $9 increase in the APA base member dues and a $1 increase in the graduate student affiliate fee. Annual dues increases are tied to the cost of living index. The 2008 preliminary budget has a projected surplus of $381,200.

  • Approved the establishment of a Task Force on Council Representation to examine the current apportionment system to determine if changes are needed.

  • Approved the Div. 36 (Religion) request for authorization to publish a divisional journal, to be titled Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

  • Approved APA Principles for Health Care Reform that promote health-care services for everyone.

  • Adopted the following resolutions as APA policy: Resolution in Support of Education for Sustainable Development; Resolution on Religious, Religion-Related and/or Religion-Derived Prejudice and the APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology 2 Task Force Proposed Resolution to Enhance Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology.

--R. Farberman

Further Reading

The minutes of the council meeting are at the APA Governance Web site.