January 22, 2009

APA Applauds New Executive Orders Signaling a Fundamental Change in the Rights and Treatment of Detainees

WASHINGTON -- The American Psychological Association applauds the executive orders issued today by President Obama related to the treatment of detainees. These orders ensure that torture and other abusive interrogation techniques will be prohibited and that the legal rights of detainees to judicial review will be upheld, signaling to the world that the new administration is committed to safeguarding basic human rights both at home and abroad.

APA strongly believes that the United States must never violate the human rights of detainees under U.S. or international law, as has occurred at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Guantanamo detainees have been subjected to abusive treatment and were only recently granted the right by the U.S. Supreme Court to the judicial review of their detention.

As an association dedicated to human welfare and an accredited non-governmental organization at the United Nations, APA has long held a clear and unequivocal position on human rights, which applies to the treatment of detainees. Specifically, any direct or indirect participation by psychologists in any act of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is unethical and prohibited. Accordingly, APA commends the president’s order requiring all U.S. personnel to follow the Army Field Manual when interrogating detainees, which will have the effect of prohibiting waterboarding and other abusive techniques.

The association would like to ensure that the Obama administration is aware that APA’s members passed a resolution in 2008 stating that psychologists may not work in settings where people are held outside of, or in violation of, either international law or the U.S. Constitution, unless they are working directly for the people being detained, working for an independent third party working to protect human rights, or providing treatment to military personnel.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.