Timeline of American Psychological Association Policies and Actions Related to Detainee Welfare and Professional Ethics in the Context of Interrogation and National Security

Aug. 3, 2016

APA amends Standard 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct[7] (Ethics Code) to include a direct prohibition regarding participating in torture, defined as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, or in any other cruel, inhuman, or degrading behavior that violates 3.04(a).” 

May 15, 2016

Former chairs of the APA Ethics Committee send an open letter[8] (PDF, 172KB) to the APA Board of Directors.

April 15, 2016

APA re-engages attorney David Hoffman and the law firm Sidley Austin[9] on a limited basis to review and respond to questions regarding specific Department of Defense (DoD) policies that may be relevant to the findings of the Independent Review the association released in 2015. 

Feb. 26, 2016

APA names 17 psychologists and ethics experts to the Commission on Ethics Processes[10]. They plan to review all of the association’s ethics processes and procedures, present a progress report at the August 2016 Board and Council meetings, and present their final report at the February 2017 meetings of the APA Board of Directors, Council Leadership Team and Council of Representatives. 

Feb. 16, 2016

Former Ethics Committee Chairs Kinscherff, Sparta, Roberts, Di Francisca, Deutsch, Johnson, Barnett, McGarrah, Fouad and Bow send an open letter[11] (PDF, 52KB) to the APA Board of Directors.

Feb. 12, 2016

APA President Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, ABPP, and APA Interim Chief Executive Officer Cynthia D., Belar, PhD, ABPP, send a letter to President Barack Obama[12] (PDF, 101 KB) calling for lifting U.S. restrictions to portions of the UN’s Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Feb. 9, 2016 

APA issues a call for comments[13] on proposed language to revise Standard 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (Ethics Code) regarding prohibitions surrounding psychologist participation in national security interrogations.

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