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.
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.
There is a broad consensus that our immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Comprised of a hopelessly complicated patchwork of laws enacted in response to events like the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and the 9/11 attacks, the immigration system creates narrow pathways for some immigrants to come to or remain in the United States, while making it almost impossibly hard for others, including many fleeing torture and persecution.
Medicine Meets the Law: When a Psychological Evaluation Means the Difference between Asylum and Deportation
When people make the decision to escape the torture and persecution they’ve suffered in their home countries by fleeing to the US, many have no idea that they have only one year from the time they arrive to apply for asylum.
Special medical training to recognize and understand the consequences of human rights abuses is no longer a niche specialty only for clinicians working with asylum seekers. Such training is necessary for all physicians, psychologists, nurses, and social workers determined to aid their patients effectively. PHR will be conducting two training sessions to provide clinicians with the skills necessary to recognize and document evidence of torture and other human rights abuses.