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Action Opportunity for California Residents: Get health professionals out of interrogations!

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WHEREAS, In 2002, the United States Department of Justice reinterpreted national and international law related to the treatment of prisoners of war in a manner that purported to justify long-prohibited interrogation methods and treatment of detainees; and

WHEREAS, Physicians and other medical personnel and psychologists serving in noncombat roles are bound by international law and professional ethics to care for enemy prisoners and to report any evidence of coercion, or abuse of detainees; and

WHEREAS, The World Medical Association (WMA) issued guidelines stating that physicians shall not use nor allow to be used their medical knowledge or skills, or health information specific to individuals, to facilitate or otherwise aid any interrogation, legal or illegal; and

WHEREAS, The guidelines issued by the WMA also state that physicians shall not participate in or facilitate torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading procedures of prisoners or detainees in any situations; and

WHEREAS, The American Medical Association’s (AMA) ethical policy prohibits physicians from conducting or directly participating in an interrogation and from monitoring interrogations with the intention of intervening; and

WHEREAS, AMA policy also states that “(t)orture refers to the deliberate, systematic or wanton administration of cruel, inhumane > and degrading treatments or punishments during imprisonment or detainment. Physicians must oppose and must not participate in torture for any reason … Physicians should help provide support for victims of torture and, whenever possible, strive to change the situation in which torture is practiced or the potential for torture is great”; and

WHEREAS, In May 2006, the American Psychiatric Association stated that psychiatrists should not “participate directly in the interrogation of persons held in custody by military or civilian investigative or law enforcement authorities, whether in the United States or elsewhere,” and that “psychiatrists should not participate in, or otherwise assist or facilitate, the commission of torture of any person. Psychiatrists who become aware that torture has occurred, is occurring, or has been planned must report it promptly to a person or persons in a position to take corrective action”; and

WHEREAS, In August 2006, the American Psychological Association stated ___ that “psychologists shall not knowingly participate in any procedure in which torture ___ or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment is used or threatened” and that “should torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment evolve during a procedure where a psychologist is present, the psychologist shall attempt to intervene to stop such behavior, and failing that exit the procedure”; and

WHEREAS, In June 2005, the House of Delegates of the American Nurses Association issued a resolution stating all of the following: “prisoners and detainees have the right to health care and humane treatment”; “registered nurses shall not voluntarily participate in any deliberate infliction of physical or mental suffering”; “registered nurses who have knowledge of ill- treatment of any individuals including detainees and prisoners must take appropriate action to safeguard the rights of that individual”; “the American Nurses Association shall condemn interrogation procedures that are harmful to mental and physical health”; “the American Nurses Association shall advocate for nondiscriminatory access to health care for wounded military and paramilitary personnel and prisoners of war”; and “the American Nurses Association shall counsel and support nurses who speak out about acts of torture and abuse”; and

WHEREAS, In March 2005, the California Medical Association stated that it “condemns any participation in, cooperation with, or failure to report by physicians and other health professionals the mental or physical abuse, sexual degradation, or torture of prisoners or detainees”; and

WHEREAS, In November 2004, the American Public Health Association stated that it “condemns any participation in, cooperation with, or failure to report by health professionals the mental or physical abuse, sexual degradation, or torture of prisoners or detainees:’ that it “urges health professionals to report abuse or torture of prisoners and detainees;’ and that it “supports the rights of health workers to be protected from retribution for refusing to participate or cooperate in abuse or torture in military settings”; and

WHEREAS, The United States military medical system in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other United States operated foreign military prisons failed to protect detainees’ rights to medical treatment, failed to prevent disclosure of confidential medical information to interrogators and others, failed to promptly report injuries or deaths caused by beatings, failed to report acts of psychological and sexual degradation, and sometimes collaborated with abusive interrogators and guards; and

WHEREAS, Current United States Department of Defense guidelines authorize the participation of certain military health personnel, especially psychologists, in the interrogation of detainees as members of “Behavioral Science Consulting Teams” in violation of professional ethics. These guidelines also permit the use of confidential clinical information from medical records to aid in interrogations and

WHEREAS, Evidence in the public record indicates that military psychologists participated in the design and implementation of psychologically abusive interrogation methods used at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, and elsewhere, including sleep deprivation, long-term isolation, sexual and cultural humiliation, forced nudity, induced hypothermia and other temperature extremes, stress positions, sensory bombardment, manipulation of phobias, force-feeding hunger strikers, and more; and

WHEREAS, Published reports indicate that the so-called “enhanced interrogation methods” of the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly include similar abusive methods and that agency psychologists may have assisted in their development; and

WHEREAS, Medical and psychological studies and clinical experience show that these abuses can cause severe or serious mental pain and suffering in their victims, and therefore may violate the “torture” and “cruel and inhuman treatment” provisions of CAT and the United States War Crimes Act, as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2006; and

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Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and is President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He was a psychological consultant on two of (more...)
 

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