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Psychologists and the Use of Torture in Interrogations

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Abstract:

This article argues that psychologists should not be involved in interrogations that make use of torture or other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. The use of torture is first evaluated in light of professional ethics codes and international law. Next, research on interrogations and false confessions is reviewed and its relevance for torture-based interrogations is explored. Finally, research on the negative mental health consequences of torture for survivors and perpetrators is summarized. Based on our review, we conclude that psychologists' involvement in designing, assisting with, or participating in interrogations that make use of torture or other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment is a violation of fundamental ethical principles, a violation of international and domestic law, and an ineffective means of extracting reliable information. Torture produces severe and lasting trauma as well as other negative consequences for individuals and for the societies that support it. The article concludes with several recommendations about how APA and other professional organizations should respond to the involvement of psychologists in interrogations that make use of torture or other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2007.00118.x

Affiliations: 1: Claremont McKenna College 2: Duke University 3: Boston College

Publication date: December 1, 2007

bpl/asap/2007/00000007/00000001/art00002
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