Attorneys: To request an evaluation for your client, please fill out the forensic evaluation request form (pdf) and send to PHR via fax (617.301.4250) or email (asylum [at] phrusa [dot] org).
For more than twenty years, PHR has been at the forefront of protecting the right to live in safety. The Asylum Program’s unique model provides direct service to asylum seekers, advocates for improved conditions in US immigration detention centers, and documents human rights abuses that immigrants suffer in their home countries and in US care.
Hundreds of volunteer health professionals in our Asylum Network have helped thousands of survivors of torture and other brutal forms of persecution gain asylum in the US by providing them with medical evaluations to prove they were victims of persecution. One of PHR’s evaluators has shared her experience providing evaluations for asylum seekers, in this article for The American Psychological Association.
Advocacy: Improving Conditions in US Detention Centers
PHR seeks to protect survivors of persecution by working with federal and state policymakers to elevate the quality and timeliness of health care provided in immigration detention centers, to reduce the overall use of immigration detention, and to eliminate arbitrary and unjustified barriers to attaining humanitarian protection in the US.
Documenting Human Rights Abuses
Asylum seekers face persecution in both their countries of origin and in immigration detention centers. Our goal is to discover those abuses, highlight them, and bring about justice and change.
Examining Asylum Seekers: A Health Professional's Guide to Medical and Psychological Evaluations of Torture
PHR’s manual provides medical professionals with the information necessary to conduct potentially life-saving evaluations. Includes an overview of political asylum law and procedure in the United States, an explanation of the physician's role in verifying signs and symptoms consistent with torture, and a review of components of appropriate written and oral medical testimony.
PHR has written several fact sheets on various aspects of asylum, asylum law, immigration detention, and more. These PDFs made for printing can be found here.
PHR Submits Statement on Syria’s Refugee Crisis to Senate Committee (January 7, 2014)
The United States should immediately convene a humanitarian summit with Russia and other nations in order to improve humanitarian aid in Syria; take steps to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States; and provide funding to address their health and other needs.
On Human Rights Day, PHR Highlights Priorities for the Administration (December 10, 2013)
On Human Rights Day, PHR highlighted the need for the U.S. government to address several pressing issues in order to protect fundamental freedoms and promote the United States’ position as a beacon for human rights.
Global Health: Medical Education and Training Help Torture Survivors Build a New Life (Association of American Medical Colleges, September 23, 2013)
Until hours before the Boston woman delivered her baby, not one of her physicians had noticed she had been the victim of genital cutting. The account comes from Jillian M. Tuck, J.D., who manages a national program at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to provide forensic medical evaluations for people seeking asylum.
Evaluating Asylum Seekers: An Interview with Dr. Arno Vosk (SampsoniaWay.org, May 9, 2013)
Asylum Network volunteer Dr. Vosk discusses the role coincidence plays in keeping asylum seekers alive, his method of assessing trauma via an individual’s scars, and the difficulties people face when seeking refuge in the US, where “fearfulness and rejection of immigrants have become an accepted part of national policy.”
More Asylum Network News »
Mexico Urges U.S. to Facilitate Asylum Claims for Victims of Violence (January 22, 2014)
Earlier this month, Mexico’s congress passed a resolution encouraging U.S. authorities to grant asylum to Mexican citizens fleeing the savage violence that has plagued the country over the last several years.
Calculating the Immeasurable: Somali Torture Victim Wins $15 Million in Civil Damages (August 23, 2013)
This week an Ohio judge awarded $15 million to Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a Somali constitutional law professor and human rights advocate, following a civil trial in which a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) volunteer doctor delivered testimony crucial to the case.
A Day to Honor Torture Survivors (June 26, 2013)
An Ethiopian man who sought asylum in the United States had been repeatedly beaten and tortured in his home country simply for engaging in protests against the government. A young Sudanese woman who was an outspoken human rights advocate bears scars from having been burned and beaten by her torturers; she now struggles to interact with people and is afraid of enclosed spaces like subway stations.
Failing to Heal: Hunger Strikes in Guantánamo and the Role of Medical Professionals (April 30, 2013)
In a recently released bipartisan report on detainee treatment at the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Constitution Project’s Expert Task Force devotes a whole chapter to the spectacular failure of medical professionals in GTMO to protect detainees from harm or injustice.
More Asylum Network Posts »
Statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis (January 2014)
PHR submitted a statement on the Syrian Refugee Crisis to a Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.
Solitary confinement is a form of segregation in which people are held in total or near-total isolation in small cells for 23 hours a day. It is used to control and discipline detainees in federal and state prisons, local jails, and immigration and national security detention facilities. Unlike incarcerated prisoners, immigration and national security detainees are held not as punishment for a crime but as a preventive measure, and will likely never be charged with a crime. For these people, solitary confinement then becomes entirely punitive, with dire consequences for their mental and physical health.
Examining Asylum Seekers (December 2012)
Clinicians can assist asylum seekers and others seeking protection in the United States by providing objective documentation of their physical and psychological injuries and trauma. This documentation becomes evidence that can corroborate the asylum seeker’s narrative of persecution. This manual is a tool for clinicians to use in assisting their evaluation and documentation of asylum seekers' histories. PHR intends to provide medical professionals with the information necessary to conduct these potentially life-saving evaluations by including an overview of political asylum law and procedure in the United States, an explanation of the physician's role in verifying signs and symptoms consistent with torture, and a review of components of appropriate written and oral medical testimony.
Invisible in Isolation (September 2012)
Immigrants in detention facilities around the United States are often subjected to punitive and long-term solitary confinement and denied meaningful avenues of appeal, according to an investigation by PHR and Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).
More Asylum Network Research »
As a family medicine physician for more than 25 years, Coleen Kivlahan serves the Association of American Medical Colleges as the senior director for health systems innovation. She is an avid volunteer with PHR in the Asylum Program, both as a trainer and medical evaluator, as well as a volunteer medical advisor and lead trainer for the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones. Read More »