The Columbia P&S Human Rights Initiative is an organization of students and faculty committed to developing a human rights-based approach to the practice of medicine. We see human rights as a continuously evolving set of shared principles that describe and protect our fundamental humanity in a rapidly globalizing world. The Initiative specifically advocates for the use of medicine to identify, document, and alleviate human rights abuses. Given the multidimensional nature of human rights advocacy, the initiative examines the connections between medicine, economics, law, sociology, and humanitarianism. Through events and initiatives, the organization raises awareness of and challenges the current dialogue around human rights.
The Asylum Clinic
The Human Rights Initiative administrates the P&S Asylum Clinic, which provides pro bono medical evaluations to those seeking asylum in the United States. Founded in 2010, The Clinic is composed of psychiatric, medical, and gynecological physicians, clinical social workers, and psychologists who have received training in identifying the physical and mental sequelae of abuse and torture. After an evaluation, the physician will compose an affidavit outlining any symptoms and signs that are relevant to the client's narrative. By providing independent medical examinations, the Clinic provides valuable evidence as part of an asylum applicant’s legal case.
Currently, the US asylum process does not guarantee applicants an independent medical evaluation, at times leaving them unable to demonstrate their need for asylum status. By connecting asylum seekers with legal and medical professionals, the Asylum Clinic seeks to overcome the barriers that immigrants face in accessing legal representation and navigating the immigration court system.
The Asylum Clinic is affiliated with Physicians for Human Rights, an international non-governmental organization that is committed to using medical expertise to document the abuse of human rights.
Students are involved in all aspects of the Asylum Clinic, from physician recruitment to clinical administration. When operating the clinic, students work with attending physicians who have been trained in the medical evaluation process. Students assist in conducting the evaluation and writing the affidavit. Additionally, students can travel to court to see the outcome of their work.
Advisors to the Asylum Clinic:
Dr. Stuart Kleinman, Dr. Mike Devlin, Dr. Mary Jo Fink
For more information about the Human Rights Initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a medical or legal professional and would like to volunteer for the Asylum Clinic, please contact email@example.com.
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