Code of Ethics & Military Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

a) Changes in APA Public Policy

According to several changes made in APA Public policy with relation to the role of psychologists in the interrogations session, APA has prohibited its psychologists from taking part in the varied torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading interrogation techniques by stating, "No psychiatrist should participate directly in the interrogation of persons held in custody by military or civilian investigative or law enforcement authorities, whether in the United States or elsewhere. Direct participation includes being present in the interrogation room, asking or suggesting questions, or advising authorities on the use of specific techniques of interrogation with particular detainees (Pope, 2008, Psychologists at the Center of the Controversy)." Furthermore, it was asserted through referendum which took place in 2008 that psychologists must not operate outside territories which are under the jurisdiction of international law such as Guantanamo, Bagram, or the CIA or JSOC "black site" prisons, and also shall not participate in interrogations that are violation to the international law. Also, the removal of Section 1.02 was also a major amendment in APA code of ethics (Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, 2010). This section earlier allowed the members to give preference to orders when orders and ethics conflicted. This clause has been forfeited now.

Boundaries of the APA Ethical Principles and Psychologists' Involvement in Military Interrogation

As mentioned by Soldz (2009), "Like so many other institutions over the years since 9/11, the APA built its policies on psychologist involvement in interrogation upon a public foundation of denial of, rather than a grappling with, reality (p.139)." However, APA has taken measures later, to ensure that APA guidelines do not support any violation of human rights by ensuring that the psychologists report any inhumane behavior that they witness as mentioned earlier. But increasing influence of Pentagon and CIA on APA has made it difficult for the Psychologists to report it to any authority. Reporting such incidences would result in compromising their membership and will also endanger their career as the alliance to bodies like APA, is mandatory for further practice. This concern was addressed by APA. The earlier taskforce which mainly comprised of Psychologists from Military has been replaced by a new body which now constitutes of members from APA's Division 48, the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence. (Kaye, 2012).

APA Code of Conduct & Rights of Patients / Clients

Apparently, the APA code of conduct mainly protects the clients of the psychologists by adhering to definition of human rights as defined by United Nations. According to APA's statement on human rights (1987), APA supports United Nations in defending and promoting human rights and undertaking to commend the main UN human rights instruments and documents to the attention of its boards, committees, and membership at large.

APA general principle D, requires the psychologist to protect the patient's confidentiality along with practicing any bias or discrimination by stating,

"Psychologists accord appropriate respect to the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all people. They respect the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, self-determination, and autonomy, mindful that legal and other obligations may lead to inconsistency and conflict with the exercise of these rights. Psychologists are aware of cultural, individual, and role differences, including those due to age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status. Psychologists try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone unfair discriminatory practices (APA, 1992, General principles, para. 4)

Furthermore, since APA complies with United Nations definition of human rights, it can be implied that APA's definition of human rights includes universality and inalienability. The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law. This principle, as first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, has been reiterated in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolutions (UNHR, 1996). Hence, APA recognizes humans to have rights which cannot be taken away (APA, 1987).

Impact of U.S. Policies on Detainees

Where treaties like Geneva Convention and convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, prohibit any inhumane behavior resulting into physical and mental distress, there are no governing bodies to supervise the law and order agencies as an organization like APA has been

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