Documents Instructions Resources Literature
The Atlanta Asylum Network relies upon health professionals including physicians, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers as the core of the organization. As many asylum seekers are survivors of sexual violence, the services of gynecologists are particularly important. Interested health professionals can sign up for one of our trainings or contact us to receive materials about conducting evaluations.

Volunteer health professionals typically conduct evaluations two to four times per year. Please contact us if you would like to join the Atlanta Asylum Network at
Guidelines for writing affidavits

Sample physical affidavit - A

Sample physical affidavit - B

Sample psychological affidavit
After group or individual training, health professionals can conduct evaluations. The health professional will be contacted by an Atlanta Asylum Network staff member when a case becomes available. Evaluations can be conducted in the health professional’s office. Alternatively, the Asylum Network in cooperation with the Center for Torture and Trauma Survivors can provide a space for evaluations. Occasionally, circumstances require that evaluations be conducted in detention centers where the clients are being held.

The health professional will receive a copy of the client's legal affidavit, which describes his/her persecution experiences, approximately one week prior to the evaluation. On the day of the evaluation, an Atlanta Asylum Network staff member who has previously interviewed the client will accompany the health professional to the evaluation location. If needed, translators are provided by the client's lawyer. Physical evaluations require one to two hours. Psychological evaluations often occur over two separate visits lasting approximately one hour each. After the evaluation, the health professional writes an affidavit describing the consistency between the client's statements as stated in the legal affidavit and the identified physical/ psychological signs.

The Atlanta Asylum Network staff can assist in affidavit writing for new evaluators. For some cases, judges require verbal testimony as well. This can be done by phone or in person. Sample affidavits and other useful resources are provided below.

Consistency vs. Credibility
The goal of health professional's evaluation is to assess the consistency of the asylum seekers claim with physical and psychological signs and symptoms. This is done in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol. Health professionals should do NOT assess the credibility of cases as this a legal matter. Health professionals should never use the terms "credible" or "credibility" in affidavits. Instead, "consistency" should be the focus of the evaluation.
Physicians for Human Rights Library

Physicians for Human Rights - Istanbul Protocol

Physicians for Human Rights - Examining Asylum Seekers
BASOGLU, M., EKBLAD, S., BAARNHIELM, S., & LIVANOU, M. (2004). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of tortured asylum seekers: a case study. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 18(3), 357-369.

BULSTRODE, C. (1996). Asylum seekers who claim to have been tortured should have right to independent medical examination. BMJ, 313(7060), 822.

BURNETT, A., & PEEL, M. (2001). Asylum seekers and refugees in Britain. The health of survivors of torture and organised violence. BMJ, 322(7286), 606-609.

DAVIDSON, N., SKULL, S., BURGNER, D., KELLY, P., RAMAN, S., SILOVE, D., STEEL, Z., VORA, R., & SMITH, M. (2004). An issue of access: delivering equitable health care for newly arrived refugee children in Australia. [see comment]. Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health, 40(9-10), 569-575.

HARGREAVES, S. (2002). A body of evidence: torture among asylum seekers to the West. Lancet, 359(9308), 793-794.

HEISLER, M., MORENO, A., DEMONNER, S., KELLER, A., & IACOPINO, V. (2003). Assessment of torture and ill treatment of detainees in Mexico: attitudes and experiences of forensic physicians. JAMA, 289(16), 2135-2143.

IACOPINO, V., OZKALIPCI, O., & SCHLAR, C. (1999). The Istanbul Protocol: international standards for the effective investigation and documentation of torture and ill treatment. Lancet, 354(9184), 1117.

IACOPINO, V. (2000). Health professionals cannot be silent witnesses.[comment]. Western Journal of Medicine, 172(5), 304-305.

IACOPINO, V., KELLER, A., & OKSENBERG, D. (2002). Why torture must not be sanctioned by the United States. Western Journal of Medicine, 176(3), 148-149.

KELLER, A. S., FORD, D., SACHS, E., ROSENFELD, B., TRINH-SHEVRIN, C., MESERVE, C., LEVISS, J. A., SINGER, E., SMITH, H., WILKINSON, J., KIM, G., ALLDEN, K., & ROCKLINE, P. (2003). The impact of detention on the health of asylum seekers. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 26(4), 383-385.

KELLER, A. S., ROSENFELD, B., TRINH-SHEVRIN, C., MESERVE, C., SACHS, E., LEVISS, J. A., SINGER, E., SMITH, H., WILKINSON, J., KIM, G., ALLDEN, K., & FORD, D. (2003). Mental health of detained asylum seekers. Lancet, 362(9397), 1721-1723.

MACDONALD, B. K., MUMMERY, C. J., & HEANEY, D. (2001). Health needs of asylum seekers and refugees. Head injury needs to be taken into consideration in survivors of torture. BMJ, 323(7306), 230.

REIS, C., AHMED, A. T., AMOWITZ, L. L., KUSHNER, A. L., ELAHI, M., & IACOPINO, V. (2004). Physician participation in human rights abuses in southern Iraq.[see comment][erratum appears in JAMA. 2004 May 19;291(19):2316]. JAMA, 291(12), 1480-1486.

RUBENSTEIN, L., PROSS, C., DAVIDOFF, F., & IACOPINO, V. (2005). Coercive US interrogation policies: a challenge to medical ethics. JAMA, 294(12), 1544-1549.

SILOVE, D., CURTIS, J., MASON, C., & BECKER, R. (1996). Ethical considerations in the management of asylum seekers on hunger strike. JAMA, 276(5), 410-415.

SILOVE, D., SINNERBRINK, I., FIELD, A., MANICAVASAGAR, V., & STEEL, Z. (1997). Anxiety, depression and PTSD in asylum-seekers: assocations with pre-migration trauma and post-migration stressors.[see comment]. British Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 351-357.

SILOVE, D., STEEL, Z., MCGORRY, P., & MOHAN, P. (1998). Trauma exposure, postmigration stressors, and symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress in Tamil asylum-seekers: comparison with refugees and immigrants. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 97(3), 175-181.

SILOVE, D., STEEL, Z., & WATTERS, C. (2000). Policies of deterrence and the mental health of asylum seekers. JAMA, 284(5), 604-611.

SILOVE, D., STEEL, Z., & MOLLICA, R. (2001). Detention of asylum seekers: assault on health, human rights, and social development.[see comment]. Lancet, 357(9266), 1436-1437.

SILOVE, D. (2002). The asylum debacle in Australia: a challenge for psychiatry. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36(3), 290-296.

Compounding of premigration trauma and postmigration stress in asylum seekers. Journal of Psychology, 131(5), 463-470.

SINNERBRINK, I., SILOVE, D., FIELD, A., STEEL, Z., & MANICAVASAGAR, V. (1997). Compounding of premigration trauma and postmigration stress in asylum seekers. Journal of Psychology, 131(5), 463-470.

STEEL, Z., SILOVE, D., BIRD, K., MCGORRY, P., & MOHAN, P. (1999). Pathways from war trauma to posttraumatic stress symptoms among Tamil asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 12(3), 421-435.

STEEL, Z., & SILOVE, D. (2004). Science and the common good: indefinite, non-reviewable mandatory detention of asylum seekers and the research imperative. Monash Bioethics Review, 23(4), 93-103.

WEINSTEIN, H. M., DANSKY, L., & IACOPINO, V. (1996). Torture and war trauma survivors in primary care practice. Western Journal of Medicine, 165(3), 112-118.
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