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**ATTENTION: Intake for new forensic evaluation requests to the Asylum Program is once again OPEN**

Attorneys, please use our updated forensic evaluation request form to submit requests to asylum@phrusa.org. Please note the updated instructions about deadlines, and be sure to leave sufficient time for us to fulfill your request.


For more than twenty years, Physicians for Human Rights (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 U.S. immigration detention centers, and documents human rights abuses that immigrants suffer in their home countries and in U.S. care.

Asylum Network: Proving Human Rights Abuses

Hundreds of volunteer health professionals in our Asylum Network have helped thousands of survivors of human rights violations gain asylum in the U.S. 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.

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.

Fact sheets on Asylum

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 Condemns Closure of Egyptian Anti-Torture Organization (February 10, 2017)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today condemned the shuttering of Egypt’s premiere anti-torture organization and clinic, the El-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence. On Thursday, Egyptian officials sealed the organization’s office doors after a protracted effort to halt its work.

Governors Who Say They Will Close Doors on Syrian Refugees Pander to Fear and Ignorance (November 16, 2015)

PHR is appalled by the declarations of the U.S. governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, that they will not allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their states.

President Obama Announces Immigration Plan (November 21, 2014)

President Barack Obama addressed the nation last night to announce plans to provide temporary relief from deportation for millions of immigrant families.

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.

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Taking Refuge in the Law During the Trump Era (February 8, 2017)

I’m a Muslim woman of color living in diverse New York City, but the part of the city I live in is predominantly conservative. As a visible minority, I have never felt particularly welcomed by some of my neighbors. But up until recently, I was comforted by the fact that if the hostility expressed toward me escalated, I could at least take refuge in the law — that no matter my religion or my skin color or my choice of dress, the protections afforded by the rule of law would provide some measure of safety, or at least accountability.

Katherine McKenzie: Supporting Human Rights, One Patient at a Time (December 15, 2016)

Physicians have unique skills to contribute to asylum seekers; they can use their medical training to document the physical and psychological scars of torture and ill-treatment. Although emotionally challenging, the work offers the rewards that attract doctors to the practice of medicine in the first place.

Finding Evidence: Inside PHR's Asylum Training (November 1, 2016)

After attending a PHR training, those health professionals can then sign up with PHR’s Asylum Network, a group of more than 500 volunteers who conduct assessments of asylum applicants nationwide.

A New Low: Stealing Family Heirlooms in Exchange for Protection (December 16, 2015)

The refugee crisis in Europe has shown the very real limits to the social coherence and solidarity that seemed to form the basis for the European Union until now. But even within the climate of hostility against asylum seekers in Europe, Denmark stands apart as one of the worst aggressors.

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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.

Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in the US Detention System (April 2013)

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).

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Related Profiles

Coleen Kivlahan, MD, MSPH

Coleen Kivlahan, MD, MSPH

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 »