Answers to Your Questions About Psychology and Human Rights

What is APA's position on torture and interrogation?

APA maintains a no torture/no abuse position regarding the welfare of detainees. The issue of detainee welfare in national security contexts has been the subject of extensive consideration by APA in recent years. A Timeline of Key APA Activities with links to current Association policies has been developed to clarify the APA's position.

How are people with disabilities affected by human rights violations?

People with intellectual, developmental, psychiatric, sensory and physical disabilities experience challenges due to discrimination. Parents with disabilities, especially, may face barriers when exercising their fundamental right to raise families. "Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children" is a report that explores how U.S. disability policy and law affect people with disabilities who wish to explore adoption and gain access to assisted reproductive technologies. The report draws heavily from APA Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities, and the work of many notable psychologists, several of whom have served on the Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology.

What do psychologists do to help prevent human trafficking?

According to “Child Trafficking From Prevention to Protection: Community Based Collaboration”, (Psychology International, March 2009) human trafficking for sexual exploitation is not a new phenomenon; it has dramatically increased so that the number of individuals involved is now 10 times greater than those victimized by the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century.

APA's Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls is currently reviewing the state of the literature of theory, research and practice relevant to the trafficking of women and girls and will produce a report with extensive literature citations that summarizes its findings. Psychologists also get involved with local efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking, involving historians, advocates and major political leaders. Work by psychologists on the issue takes on an international focus as well, alongside non-governmental organizations.

How do psychologists safeguard the human rights of the mentally ill?

APA submits amicus briefs and researches issues that challenge the constitutional rights of people who are mentally and physically impaired. In Schwarzenegger v. Plata and Coleman, California prisoners challenged imprisonment conditions due to overcrowding, which included a lack of adequate mental health services. In support of the inmates, APA submitted a brief arguing that involuntary inmates of mental institutions who were deprived of adequate treatment were being deprived of liberty without due process. In another case (Wyatt v. Aderholt, 503 F.2d 1305), APA discussed the judicial obligation to safeguard the constitutional rights of involuntary inmates of mental institutions, including the right to adequate treatment.