Good news below (thank you for all your signatures and for making this possible!):
|APA REJECTS PROPOSAL EXPANDING ROLE OF MILITARY PSYCHOLOGISTS TO TREAT DETAINEES IN ALL SETTINGS
Governing council opts to leave longstanding policy unchanged
|SAN FRANCISCO – The American Psychological Association declined to adopt a resolution today that would have supported the role of military psychologists as providers of health care services to detainees in any national security setting.
In rejecting this proposal, by a vote of 105-57 with 11 abstentions, APA’s governing Council of Representatives opted to retain the existing policy that restricts the role of military psychologists in detention sites that are in violation of the U.S. Constitution or international law. The individuals who proposed the measure said it was aimed at allowing military psychologists to provide needed health care to detainees without any restrictions as to the setting in which services are provided. This resolution would have made the role of psychologists consistent with the role of psychiatrists and other military health providers who may treat detainees at any site, including the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Many of those who opposed the measure indicated that they feared it would open the door to military psychologists becoming involved in detainee interrogations and risk compromising the human rights of detainees
Before the vote on the actual resolution, the movers of that measure proposed to withdraw it and have the issue referred to a presidential task force for further study. After impassioned debate on both sides of the question, the council voted 95-76, with one abstention, against referral.
“This was a very challenging decision since many critical professional issues and values were at stake,” said APA President Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD. “After much deliberation, the council decided that it was most important for the association to uphold the current policies that date back to 2009.”
APA’s council adopted a series of resolutions – in 2009, 2013 and 2015 – that were aimed at ensuring that psychologists did not in any way assist in so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques or contribute to the operation of detention settings where such techniques were used during the Bush administration’s “global war on terror.” The 2009 resolution (which was passed by a vote of APA members in 2008) stated that “psychologists may not work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.” That resolution allowed for military psychologists to provide treatment to military personnel in all settings and was incorporated in the subsequent policies.
Statement from the National Coalition of Concerned Mental Health Experts
The National Coalition of Concerned Mental Health Experts is deeply disturbed by reports that the American Psychological Association (APA-1) is considering re-introducing military psychologists to detention sites run by the United States including at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). This Wednesday (August 8, 2018) and/or Friday (August 10, 2018), the APA-1 will vote on a proposed change to its policy.
We find this particularly disturbing because this policy was put in place following revelations of APA-1’s complicity with psychologists’ involvement in torture. The current policy strongly opposes torture and any presence of military psychologists in settings that violate international human rights laws.
The military psychologists proposing the new policy argue that they are best qualified to provide psychological care to the detainees, but this privilege has been abused in the past. A series of reports from detainees previously under this arrangement point to confidences shared with therapists thrown back at them during interrogations. In a setting of human rights abuses, clinical care could not be provided by military psychologists, whose client is the government and not the detainee, without conflicts of interest.
As recently as six months ago the United Nations Special Rapporteur documented that torture continues at GITMO, but the U.S. has denied international inspectors access into the site. Additionally, the recently appointed Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Ms. Gina Haspel, has a documented history of involvement in torture including destroying evidence of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment of detainees. Further, the Commander and Chief of U.S. forces, President Donald Trump, has called for expanding the use of GITMO including re-introducing forms of torture (waterboarding) previously banned.
Our organization has extensively detailed the mental instability of the President and, as a consequence, does not underestimate the danger he presents to the detainees, regardless of the assurances from military psychologists that the President does not influence such matters. We have also spoken extensively against the complicity of the American Psychiatric Association (APA-2) under this administration to silence its members and their warnings, in a way that has facilitated a dangerous government.
Therefore, we urgently call for APA-1 to maintain its current, humane policy and to defeat efforts to re-introduce military psychologists to detention sites. We fear for the well-being of those incarcerated. We also fear for the future of the mental health professions as long as their professional associations continue to be associated with torture. We oppose any changes to ethical guidelines that may provide cover for compromising the right of all persons to their inherent human dignity.
Bandy Lee and Melissa Mendenhall
(We will continue to collect signatures past the above dates, until which time we send in our letter.)