Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network

Human Rights Defenders

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1



Ethical Standards for Health Care Professionals

Medical doctors and psychologists can be asked to participate in torture or improper treatment and interrogation of prisoners.  Under international human rights standards health care providers are ethically required to report torture or improper treatment of prisoners, detainees and patients to the responsible authorities.  Health professionals who work in the immigration detention system, prisons, and state run institutions are bound by the same standards of conduct that apply to their treatment of patients in private clinics and hospitals: to treat their duty to patient as their first priority and to always act in the best interests of the patient. However, health professionals’ ability to maintain loyalty to their patients and to act in their best interests becomes severely compromised when the interests of their employer intrude upon or directly conflict with the needs of patients. 

American Psychological Association - Enhanced Interrogation

Amendments to the APA’s ethics code in 2002 weakened human subject research protections. The APA changes allowed a waiver of the requirement for prior informed consent in circumstances “where otherwise permitted by law or federal or institutional regulations.”

While the APA ethics standards for research offer significantly less protection than the codes of the other associations, the “enhanced” interrogation program (EIP) research program still appears to violate the amended APA code.

There is no evidence in the public record that the Bush administration provided health professionals with an official exemption from the Common Rule, the federal regulations governing federally funded human subject research. Thus, the 2002 APA ethics code as currently written does not protect psychologists involved in EIP research from ethics violation charges as long as the Common Rule applies . (45 C.F.R. § 46.102(d) (2005))

American Psychological Association. “Ethical Principals of Psychologists and Code of Conduct—Standard 8: Research and Publication.”  American Psychological Association, 2010. Web. 12 May 2010.


USA - Ethical Standards for Psychologists

American Psychological Association. 

Article 9.01 Bases for Assessments


a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)


b) Except as noted in 9.01c, psychologists provide opinions of the psychological characteristics of individuals only after they have conducted an examination of the individuals adequate to support their statements or conclusions. When, despite reasonable efforts, such an examination is not practical, psychologists document the efforts they made and the result of those efforts, clarify the probable impact of their limited information on the reliability and validity of their opinions, and appropriately limit the nature and extent of their conclusions or recommendations. (See also

Standards 2.01, Boundaries of Competence, and 9.06, Interpreting Assessment Results.)


c) When psychologists conduct a record review or provide consultation or supervision and an individual examination is not warranted or necessary for the opinion, psychologists explain this and the sources of information on which they based their conclusions and


Interpreting Assessment Results, Article 9


When interpreting assessment results, including automated interpretations, psychologists take into account the purpose of the assessment as well as the various test factors, test-taking abilities, and other characteristics of the person being assessed, such as situational, personal, linguistic, and cultural differences that might affect psychologists' judgments or reduce the accuracy of their interpretations. They indicate any significant limitations of their interpretations.


Evaluation of Torture Victims/Survivors

Torture is defined in the Istanbul Protocol manual in the words of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984. 

Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person, has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.


Torture is a profound concern of the world community. Its purpose is to destroy deliberately not only the physical and emotional well-being of individuals but also, in some instances, the dignity and will of entire communities. It concerns all members of the human family because it impugns the very meaning of our existence and our hopes for a brighter future.  Although international human rights and humanitarian law consistently prohibit torture under any circumstance (see chapter I), torture and ill-treatment are practiced in more than half of the world’s countries. The striking disparity between the absolute  prohibition of torture and its prevalence in the world today demonstrates the need for States to identify and implement effective measures to protect individuals from tortureand ill-treatment. This manual was developed to enable States to address one of the  most fundamental concerns in protecting individuals from torture—effective documentation.


Such documentation brings evidence of torture and ill-treatment to light so that perpetrators may be held accountable for their actions and the interests of justice may be served. The documentation methods contained in this manual are also applicable to other contexts, including human rights investigations and monitoring, political asylum evaluations, the defense of individuals who “confess” to crimes during torture and needs assessments for the care of torture victims, among others. In the case of health professionals who are coerced into neglect, misrepresentation or falsification of evidence of torture, this manual also provides an international point of reference for health professionals and adjudicators alike.



Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Istanbul Protocol. Submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 9 August 1999, published by the UNITED NATIONS, New York and Geneva, 2004

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

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"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910