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UNITED STATES: Human Rights Clinic

Each year, thousands of survivors of torture, trafficking, and other human rights abuses flee persecution in their home countries, seeking asylum in the United States. While still coping with the physical and emotional trauma of abuse and flight, asylum seekers are faced with the immediate challenge of proving their case in order to avoid being sent back to further torture and abuse – or worse.
 
In order to gain legal status, survivors must provide evidence of a credible fear of persecution should they return to their home countries. But the signs of past abuse are often invisible to authorities and attorneys. In many cases, the only evidence of persecution are the scars on survivors’ bodies and the damage to their mental health. Such evidence can only be documented by expert physicians and mental heath professionals.
 
Clinical evaluations and expert evidence in asylum proceedings
Founded in 1993, HealthRight International’s Human Rights Clinic mobilizes the health sector to assist survivors of torture and abuse seeking asylum and other forms of immigration relief in the U.S.  HRC trains and deploys volunteer physicians and mental health professionals to provide clinical examinations for survivors, document the scars and signs of abuse, and prepare affidavits for use as expert evidence in immigration proceedings.  The rate of grant of asylum for clients who obtained expert affidavits from the Human rights Clinic has been about 85 to 90 percent as opposed to the national average of about 25 percent. Learn more.
 
Training and support for clinical volunteers
HRC provides physicians and mental health professionals with intensive training that prepares them to recognize and document the medical and psychological effects of torture and to write effective clinical affidavits. HRC volunteers form a network of hundreds of professionals across more than a dozen states who evaluate survivors of torture and other human rights abuses seeking asylum and other forms of immigration relief. Learn more.
 
Access to Support and Services for Survivors of Torture (ASSIST)
Many survivors come to the U.S. with little more than the contents of a backpack. Apart from the painful physical and psychological consequences of their abuse, they face the financial, medical, social, and logistical challenges of settling in a new country. Through the ASSIST program, HRC connects clients to community resources that facilitate resettlement, such as treatment centers, medical care, employment, food, housing, and ESL opportunities. Learn more.
 
Impact of the Human Rights Clinic
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, applications for asylum in the U.S. have nearly doubled since 2006, from 25,500 to 49,000 per year, rendering the HRC’s work more important than ever. Since its founding in 1994, the HRC has served over 3,300 applicants from more than 100 countries. While no amount of care can erase the mental and physical anguish caused by torture, HealthRight aims to mitigate the consequences of abuse and to protect survivors from further rights violations. Through the combined efforts of HRC staff, immigration attorneys, and volunteer clinicians, asylum seekers are given the support to build a life free from fear, and in which their human rights are respected