August 22nd, 2008
The Society for the Scientific Study of Social Issues [SPSSI] has endorsed the APA referendum:
Forwarded for SPSSI Central Office:
Dear SPSSI and APA Division 9 Members,
There has been a great deal of professional and public debate over the role of psychologists in interrogations conducted at U.S. detention centers for foreign detainees (e.g., the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba). If you are an APA member, you should have received a ballot for a resolution on psychologists working in contexts in which people are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law or the US Constitution. Unlike previous resolutions on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment that were adopted by APA Council of Representatives in 2006 and 2007, the current resolution comes directly to members for vote through a provision in APA bylaws that provides for mail votes of Association members upon petition of 1% of the membership.
The SPSSI Executive Committee has reviewed this referendum. It has endorsed sending an email message to Division 9 members encouraging them to vote in the APA referendum on no participation in detainee camps. The referendum states:
“Be it resolved that psychologists may not work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in isolation of, either International law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.”
The SPSSI recommends voting YES to the referendum, thereby limiting the conditions when psychologists shall work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in isolation of, either International law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate).
You should have received a ballot from the APA. In the event you haven’t voted but don’t have your ballot, you can obtain a ballot from Garnett Coad at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ballots must be received by the end of the business day, September 15.
Below, we list some APA and non-APA websites that should be helpful in learning more about the petition and previous APA actions: www.apa.org/governance/resolutions/work-settings.html, for the petition itself; www.apa.org/governance/resolutions/qa-work-settings.html, for information in a Question & Answer format; www.apa.org/ethics, for information on APA’s position on interrogations; www.ethicalapa.com, for background on the petition, frequently asked questions about its purposes and intent, and the list of original sponsors. For a brief video explaining why Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) is supporting this referendum, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GDH4V8A_Qc .
Finally, we wish to remind you of SPSSI’s work on this issue. SPSSI previously adopted a policy statement on “The Use of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment as Interrogation Devices” (see www.spssi.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=1061&parentID=47 1). Among other things, this policy statement 1) condemns the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as interrogation devices, 2) calls for an independent investigation of the extent to which psychologists have been involved in using such interrogation tools, 3) calls on the APA to unambiguously condemn the use of these interrogation devices and expressly forbid psychologists from planning, designing, assisting or participating in interrogations that involve their use, and 4) calls on the APA to develop specific guidelines and explicit codes of conduct that are consistent with international treaties and human rights covenants for psychologists working in contexts of war and imprisonment.
In addition, SPSSI Council previously stated its support for a resolution that had been introduced into APA governance that called for a moratorium on all psychologist involvement, either direct or indirect, in any interrogations at U.S. detention centers for foreign detainees (see SPSSI Forward newsletter article at www.spssi.org/_data/n_0001/resources/live/SPSSI%20Newsletter_Fall%202007.pdf).
In short, in this and other work, SPSSI has consistently and strongly spoken out in support of human rights. We are proud that SPSSI’s representatives (Bernice Lott, 2002-2007, Allen Omoto & Maureen O’Connor) on APA Council of Representatives have spoken out vigorously on this issue and ask that you now make your voice heard by carefully reading the petition and the pro and con arguments that accompany it and returning your ballot by September 15, 2008.
Allen Omoto, SPSSI/Division 9 Representative to APA Council of Representatives
Maureen O’Connor, SPSSI/Division 9 Representative to APA Council of Representatives
Daniel Perlman, President
Susan Opotow, President-elect
Irene Hanson Frieze, Past-President
Sally Shumaker, Secretary-Treasurer
Elizabeth Cole, SPSSI Council Representative to the Executive Committee
Professor of Psychology & Women’s Studies
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881