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BPS reaffirms opposition to use of psychological methods for torture

09 August 2018

The Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (APA) has blocked a resolution at their annual convention this week that would have enabled military psychologists to provide mental health treatment for detainees in National Security Settings. 

BPS Chief Executive Sarb Bajwa said:

"We welcome this decision by the APA. 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 the UK it is recognised that psychologists may need to make decisions in difficult, changing and unclear situations. However, respect for the dignity of persons is one of the fundamental and universal ethical principles and should be upheld in all psychological practice. 

Since the publication of the Hoffman report (2015) the APA has committed itself to substantive revisions to its policies, processes, and procedures in order to have greater accountability of staff and governance to the overall Association mission and ethics of the organisation.

It has repeatedly reaffirmed its condemnation of torture and psychologist participation in torture."

Since its Declaration Concerning Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading or Punishment (2005) the British Psychological Society has condemned torture wherever it occurs, and supports the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Guidance to Psychologists who work with detained people is provided in the Society’s Practice Guidelines (2017).

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