Psychologists Toughen Anti-Torture Ethics Rules

March 1, 2010

The American Psychological Association announced last week that it has toughened its ethics code to remove a loophole some feared could be used by psychologists to justify assisting the government in torture or other violations of human rights. Language in previous versions of the ethics code suggested that in some situations, it was appropriate for psychologists to rely on U.S. law in determining acceptable practice. Because the Bush administration issued various "findings" that attempted to justify torture or other actions in some circumstances, critics of the APA policy said that this created a loophole. As a result, the APA removed that language and amended its ethics code to state that violations of human rights are justified "under no circumstances." The issue is a sensitive one for the association because some of its members have complained that the association was not rigorous enough in banning activities undertaken by some social scientists on behalf of the Bush administration.

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