The American Psychological Association (APA) voted overwhelmingly on Friday to prohibit members from participating in interrogations conducted by United States intelligence agencies at locations deemed illegal under international law.
The decision follows a scathing independent report that found APA members were complicit in torturing detainees at the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA “black sites.”
Released in July, the report detailed specific instances in which psychologists directed and advised U.S. interrogators on how to instill fear and distress in detainees. APA voted at an association meeting in Toronto on Friday that participating in such activities violates the profession’s ethical code.
“The APA membership has voted to prohibit all psychologists from working at Guantanamo Bay, from the CIA black sites, and any other setting that the U.N. has declared to be in violation of international law, excepting those psychologists who are performing no task other than offering treatment to fellow soldiers,” read the text of the approved resolution.
APA members required to participate in interrogations must stop and “immediately seek to deploy elsewhere or find themselves in violation of APA policy,” the resolution added.
The sole dissenting vote was cast by Col. Larry James, who was once an Army psychologist at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, according to National Public Radio.
Critics of the resolution say it does not go far enough. Jeffrey Kaye, who resigned from the APA in 2008 over what he characterized as complicity in torture, told Al Jazeera that the resolution lacks vital enforcement mechanisms.
“While this new APA policy will put it in line with other policies regarding health care professionals and interrogation put forth by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, it suffers the same problem as the policies of the other two: No enforcement,” Kaye said.
“To this day, despite the policy of the AMA and the psychiatric association, no torture doctor has ever lost his license or met any consequences at all for participation in either CIA or Department of Defense torture,” he added.