Groups Call for American Psychological Association to Apologize and Provide Support to Victims of War-on-Terror Prisoner Abuses

On 25th Anniversary of UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Psychology and Human Rights Organizations Demand Action from APA

WASHINGTON, D.C.—June 26, 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations International Day in Support of Torture Victims. In recognition of this milestone, the executive committee of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence—Division 48 of the American Psychological Association (APA)—has issued a statement calling upon the APA to (1) apologize to the victims of U.S. war-on-terror prisoner abuses, and (2) make recurring financial contributions to organizations that provide support for torture survivors and their families.

The statement—“Two Steps the American Psychological Association Should Take Today”—appears below and is available online at https://www.ethicalpsychology.org/materials/Two-Steps-the-American-Psychological-Association-Should-Take-Today.pdf.

Over a period of years, predominantly Muslim and Arab men and boys imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, CIA black sites, and other locations were subjected to physical and psychological torment and degradation. For many of these individuals, the adverse consequences of their mistreatment are grave and potentially irreversible. These detention and interrogation operations relied significantly on the involvement of psychologists whose activities were preserved and defended, in part, by the APA.

At this time of heightened international turmoil and conflict, an apology is consistent with the APA’s recent centering of its commitment to protecting and advancing human rights. Moreover, the APA, an accredited NGO at the UN, has the financial resources to support organizations that help torture survivors and their families. These steps would represent a reparative model for other organizations that have also fallen short in their humanitarian missions.

Numerous groups within and outside the APA have endorsed the statement, with additional endorsements expected and invited. As of today, the list of endorsers includes the following organizations:

  • Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence, Executive Committee (APA Division 48)
  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology (APA Division 8)
  • Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues-SPSSI (APA Division 9)
  • Society of Counseling Psychology, Executive Board (APA Division 17)
  • Psychologists in Public Service (APA Division 18)
  • Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, Executive Committee (APA Division 39)
  • Divisions for Social Justice of the APA (a consortium of 22 APA divisions; the position of DSJ does not necessarily represent or reflect the views of individual divisions)
  • Coalition for an Ethical Psychology
  • International Network for Peace Psychology
  • International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry
  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility
  • Amnesty International USA
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for Victims of Torture
  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • Veterans for Peace

The Division 48 statement below and this press release have been shared with the APA’s Board of Directors and its Council of Representatives. Further dissemination to colleagues and contacts is appreciated. Thank you.