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Psychologists respond to parliamentary reports on the mistreatment of detainees

29 June 2018

The British Psychological Society has reaffirmed its Declaration Concerning Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in the light of this week’s reports on detainee mistreatment and rendition from the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

British agencies, said the committee, continued to supply intelligence to allies despite knowing or suspecting abuse in more than 200 cases.

Its chairman, Dominic Grieve, said the agencies knew of incidents that were "plainly unlawful".

In its declaration, first published in 2005, the Society said:

"The British Psychological Society condemns torture wherever it occurs, and supports the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We further condemn the misuse of psychological knowledge and techniques in the design and enactment of torture."

Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard, the Society’s lead policy adviser, said today:

"All psychologists have a professional responsibility to have no part in facilitating the practice of torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

In our Code of Ethics and Conduct it is recognised that psychologists may need to make decision in difficult, changing and unclear situations. However, respect for the dignity of persons is one of the fundamental and universal ethical principles and should upheld in all psychological practice."

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