The American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives, on Friday, voted today in Toronto to adopt a new policy barring psychologists from participating in national security interrogations. That means psychologists won’t be approving torture techniques or overseeing “enhanced interrogations.” That means psychologists can, and must, refuse to work in such capacities for the U.S. military and they will have full backing of their professional body in so doing.
My favourite comment came not from any of the APA members but from Peter Kinderman, the president-elect of the British Psychological Society who was representing the BPS at the APA meeting.
“I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s great. I think it’s well overdue. I was joking earlier that this represents American psychologists rejoining the 17th century and repudiating torture as a means of state power. […] The agreement is that American psychologists would respect agreed international definitions of the abuse of detainees and agreed international standards for judicial process. We shouldn’t be involved in abusing detainees, and we should remain within domestic and international law. That strikes me as commonsense, obvious. It’s what the public would expect. And about bloody time, too.”