Physicians for Human Rights

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Physicians for Human Rights

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
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News Article | May 2, 2017
Site: www.fastcompany.com

Crappy job interviews are a fact of life. Some are more bizarre, infuriating, and embarrassing than others. But even the most disastrous interviews can teach you something that might prove helpful later in your career—at least according to the people who’ve survived them. These are a few of the more useful lessons. When the hiring manager told me I’d be meeting with Larry later, I expected to be taken to his office. I wasn’t. Once our profoundly weird conversation had ground to a standstill (more on that in a moment), the interviewer turned to her right and yelled, “Larry!” A wall that I hadn’t realized was just a partition then slid open, revealing the gentleman in question. Still seated in his swivel chair and clutching the armrests, the director of the nonprofit rowed into the room using his legs to propel him forward. One shirttail had wriggled free from a bulging waistband and sat limply in his lap; a combover crowned his head. “Larry doesn’t usually look like this” was the hiring manager’s peculiar introduction, which I took to mean that he was unwell. Then she rushed to clarify: Larry had recently gone boating (a favorite pastime) and was merely tanner than usual. By the time the interview ended, I’d been asked personal questions about my family, whether I had as many male friends as female ones, and whether I’d mind occasionally carrying Larry’s briefcase, “which would be more of a task that women typically do.” For his part, Larry told me that I wouldn’t need to inform his wife if he abscond with the hiring manager to Istanbul for a week (this elicited riotous laughter from her), but that I should do so if he were to skip town with any other woman. As soon as I got home, I wrote an email saying that I no longer wished to be considered for the administrative assistant job. This was the very first position I’d interviewed for after graduating, so it was an early lesson in something career coaches tell candidates all the time: You’re also interviewing them, and if you aren’t impressed, it’s okay to back out. Nobody wins when you slog through a hiring process you aren’t excited about anymore. Related: How To Walk Away From A Hiring Process You’re No Longer Interested In Rebecca Arian is a human rights lawyer at Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, an advocacy organization headquartered in Jaffa. But in the spring of 2010, when she was less than a year out of college, she landed an interview for a paralegal position at a big corporate law firm in New York. “I spelled LexisNexis on my resume ‘Lexus Nexus,’” Arian admits. “The guy called me out on it, and basically the interview ended there—but not before I interviewed with a paralegal who currently worked for the company and told me once she worked a 36-hour day and took a 10-minute nap under her desk.”


The report calls on the Security Council and countries to take concrete steps toward preventing attacks and ending impunity, as recommended last year by the UN Secretary General. These steps include regular reporting by countries to the UN on actions taken to prevent attacks, investigating those that occur and holding perpetrators accountable. Where member states fail to act, the Secretary urged, the Security Council should initiate thorough investigations and establish accountability procedures. The Security Council and states have failed to take these actions. "Our findings cry out for a level of commitment and follow-through by the international community and individual governments that has been absent since the passage of Security Council Resolution 2286 a year ago," said Leonard S. Rubenstein, director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and chair of the coalition. In Syria, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) verified 108 attacks on health facilities, and the deaths of 91 health professionals in 2016. "The all-out assault on health facilities and professionals in Syria is the worst pattern of such attacks in modern history," said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at PHR. "2016 marked one of the worst years we've documented," she said. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported 119 attacks on health facilities and personnel, up from 63 the year before. In Yemen, UNICEF verified 93 attacks on hospitals over a period from March 2015 to December 2016. The numbers noted in the report may greatly understate the extent and severity of attacks, the report says, because documentation of attacks remains spotty. "We know that in places like South Sudan and Iraq, many vicious attacks on health care have been inflicted by parties to the conflicts," said Laura Hoemeke, director of communications and advocacy at IntraHealth International. "These attacks cascade into lack of access to health care for suffering populations, but no one is collecting the number of attacks." The report reveals that while bombing and shelling of health facilities is the most obvious and devastating form of attack, violence against health care takes many forms. "In Afghanistan, we found patterns of intimidation and threats against health workers, and occupation of health facilities," said Christine Monaghan, a researcher at Watchlist on Children in Armed Conflict, which engaged in a field investigation in Afghanistan. "There were 13 recorded attacks on vaccinators, in which ten people were killed and 16 were abducted," she said. Continued obstruction of access to care is another key finding. In Ukraine, checkpoints, as well as the difficulty of crossing conflict lines, have impeded access to care for a third of households in conflict-affected areas, with dire implications for the 50 percent of families in the region suffering from chronic diseases. In Turkey, curfews prevented injured people from reaching care, resulting in needless civilian deaths. In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported 416 instances of violence or interference with its ambulances, injuring 162 emergency medical technicians. Accountability for these assaults is largely absent, the report said. A review by Human Rights Watch of 25 incidents of attacks on health care in ten countries between 2013 and 2016, resulting in the deaths of more than 230 people and the closure or destruction of six hospitals, found that either no proceedings for accountability were undertaken at all or the results of proceedings were inadequate. "Without accountability, these attacks won't stop, and efforts to investigate these kinds of incidents—and pursue justice where relevant—have been half-hearted or worse," said Diederik Lohman, director of health and human rights at Human Rights Watch. This fourth global report from the coalition relies on field investigations by coalition members as well as secondary data from UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and other sources. It can be accessed at: safeguardinghealth.org/report2017 The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition consists of more than 30 organizations working to protect health workers and services threatened by war or civil unrest. The coalition raises awareness of global attacks on health and presses governments and United Nations agencies for greater global action to protect the security of health care. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/health-workers-and-facilities-in-23-conflict-ridden-countries-attacked-with-impunity-in-2016-300450139.html


Shannon K.,University of British Columbia | Leiter K.,Physicians for Human Rights | Phaladze N.,University of Botswana | Hlanze Z.,Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: There is limited empirical research on the underlying gender inequity norms shaping gender-based violence, power, and HIV risks in sub-Saharan Africa, or how risk pathways may differ for men and women. This study is among the first to directly evaluate the adherence to gender inequity norms and epidemiological relationships with violence and sexual risks for HIV infection. Methods: Data were derived from population-based cross-sectional samples recruited through two-stage probability sampling from the 5 highest HIV prevalence districts in Botswana and all districts in Swaziland (2004-5). Based on evidence of established risk factors for HIV infection, we aimed 1) to estimate the mean adherence to gender inequity norms for both men and women; and 2) to model the independent effects of higher adherence to gender inequity norms on a) male sexual dominance (male-controlled sexual decision making and rape (forced sex)); b) sexual risk practices (multiple/concurrent sex partners, transactional sex, unprotected sex with non-primary partner, intergenerational sex). Findings: A total of 2049 individuals were included, n = 1255 from Botswana and n = 796 from Swaziland. In separate multivariate logistic regression analyses, higher gender inequity norms scores remained independently associated with increased male-controlled sexual decision making power (AORmen = 1.90, 95%CI:1.09-2.35; AORwomen = 2.05, 95%CI:1.32-2.49), perpetration of rape (AORmen = 2.19 95%CI:1.22-3.51), unprotected sex with a non-primary partner (AORmen = 1.90, 95%CI:1.14-2.31), intergenerational sex (AORwomen = 1.36, 95%CI:1.08-1.79), and multiple/concurrent sex partners (AORmen = 1.42, 95%CI:1.10-1.93). Interpretation: These findings support the critical evidence-based need for gender-transformative HIV prevention efforts including legislation of women's rights in two of the most HIV affected countries in the world. © 2012 Shannon et al.


News Article | November 29, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Lawyers who help people fleeing violence, war and persecution say cases could be strengthened by medical evaluations -- but not enough doctors do them ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- They come from war zones and terrorist strongholds. From places where being the "wrong" religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation is a crime. From countries where sexual violence and mutilation are considered normal. And after a long journey to America, tens of thousands of refugees every year begin another long journey: The legal process that offers their only chance of permanent asylum in the United States. It can take years to get a verdict from the federal government. If their case isn't strong enough, they're deported. Now, a new study shows how physicians and mental health professionals can play a crucial, objective role in this process, by examining refugees to document the scars of physical and emotional abuse. But the study also highlights how many more such exams are needed, based on feedback from the lawyers who handle refugee cases. And that translates into a need for more medical professionals to be trained on how to do the exams, and then to volunteer their time to conduct them and write medical affidavits that become a formal part of the asylum case. Even if the flow of new refugees decreases in coming years due to U.S. and United Nations policy changes, there are hundreds of thousands already here who are still building their cases. The new research, done by a team from the University of Michigan Medical School and published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, compiles information from a range of lawyers who help refugees on their asylum journey. Such lawyers donate their time, or work for much less than they could otherwise earn, to compile the best case for why our nation should accept one more person. But often, they told the researchers, that case is missing some of the most compelling evidence of what the applicant has suffered: an independent report on the mental and physical effects of what they endured back home. Whether that's a raised scar, the trace of a broken bone, or the telltale symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the trained eye and ear of a physician is needed to detect them all. Sixteen of these lawyers from around Michigan sat down with U-M researchers to talk in depth about how the results of medical exams factor in to their work, and what they look for in an exam when trying to make the best case on behalf of a refugee. Most crucially, the attorneys said, independent, thorough and objective exams can provide corroboration for what the refugees tell the attorneys about their past. They can even reveal additional details. In rare cases, the physical signs conflict with the story that the individual has told their lawyer. To be most helpful, the written medical affidavits must document an asylum seeker's physical and mental health in a way that attorneys and immigration officials can understand - not in the medical jargon that doctors usually use in their reports for one another. The project grew out of the U-M Asylum Collaborative, a medical student-run organization that takes in requests for asylum-related medical and psychiatric exams from the organization Physicians for Human Rights and from the Freedom House asylum-seekers facility in Detroit. The students connect with U-M medical faculty who donate their time to conduct hours-long exams, and report their findings. Michele Heisler, M.D., M.P.A., the senior author of the new study, is one of the group's faculty advisors and a professor of internal medicine at the Medical School with additional appointments in the U-M School of Public Health and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. She serves on the board of Physicians for Human Rights, and has volunteered for the group since medical school. She's also a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. Many of the asylum seekers also work with U-M Law School students and faculty to build the legal document that they file with the government. U-M medical teams have completed such exams for more than 50 asylum seekers in the past two years. At least two of them have already succeeded in their quest for refuge. The group offers an annual training workshop for medical professionals interested in getting involved. PHR also offers training in other locations. The first author of the new study, third-year medical student Elizabeth Scruggs, notes that the idea to interview lawyers who work on asylum cases was the idea of the collaborative's founders, Anna C. Meyer, M.D., and Jamie VanArtsdalen, M.D., who have since graduated. "Our sense was initially that there was great potential for an organization like UMAC to have an impact on people who are actively seeking asylum, but who couldn't afford or couldn't find a physician to perform these exams," says Scruggs. "But we also know that there are physicians who are interested in human rights and want to use their skills to help people who are going through the asylum process." The authors note that there's potential for much more collaboration between the medical and legal professions around asylum cases. "What was surprising was seeing how each lawyer handles their cases differently, and how each applicant's story is unique," says Scruggs. "So, a conversation between the doctor and the legal professional about each case, before the exam is very important. They need to connect before and even after, about the level of detail that's needed for an applicant to have a strong case, and the way the affidavit is written. They also need to understand any inconsistencies between what the exam shows and what the applicant has said. And the physician must be impartial." Interestingly, some attorneys told the researchers that photos of refugees' scars might not be useful in asylum cases, because their quality and resolution can suffer during the process of evaluation by the relevant agencies. This can even weaken the applicant's case inadvertently. The researchers did not look at whether the presence of a medical affidavit in an applicant's file increased their chance of receiving asylum, though the attorneys mostly said they felt it did. Previous studies in the last decade have suggested that asylum petitions with medical exam results do have a better chance of succeeding, but there is no definitive proof. "The overwhelming response from the lawyers was that a medical exam was a necessary part of an application, that they always want it but they don't always have the 'luxury' of getting it at all," says Scruggs. In cases where someone leaves their country without being able to take evidence of what they endured, the only documentation may be embedded in their body or their mind.


Iacopino V.,Physicians for Human Rights
PLoS medicine | Year: 2011

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the government authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques that were previously recognized as torture. While the complicity of US health professionals in the design and implementation of US torture practices has been documented, little is known about the role of health providers, assigned to the US Department of Defense (DoD) at the US Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), who should have been in a position to observe and document physical and psychological evidence of torture and ill treatment. We reviewed GTMO medical records and relevant case files (client affidavits, attorney-client notes and summaries, and legal affidavits of medical experts) of nine individuals for evidence of torture and ill treatment and documentation by medical personnel. In each of the nine cases, GTMO detainees alleged abusive interrogation methods that are consistent with torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture as well as the more restrictive US definition of torture that was operational at the time. The medical affidavits in each of the nine cases indicate that the specific allegations of torture and ill treatment are highly consistent with physical and psychological evidence documented in the medical records and evaluations by non-governmental medical experts. However, the medical personnel who treated the detainees at GTMO failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms they observed. Psychological symptoms were commonly attributed to "personality disorders" and "routine stressors of confinement." Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment. Psychological assessments conducted by non-governmental medical experts revealed diagnostic criteria for current major depression and/or PTSD in all nine cases. The findings in these nine cases from GTMO indicate that medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the DoD neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm.


Iacopino V.,Physicians for Human Rights | Iacopino V.,University of Minnesota | Iacopino V.,University of California at Berkeley | Allen S.A.,Physicians for Human Rights | And 2 more authors.
Science | Year: 2011

Despite prior U.S. recognition of "enhanced interrogation" techniques as torture, science was misrepresented to support their use.


Iacopino V.,Physicians for Human Rights | Iacopino V.,University of Minnesota | Iacopino V.,University of California at Berkeley | Xenakis S.N.,U.S. Army
PLoS Medicine | Year: 2011

Background: In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the government authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques that were previously recognized as torture. While the complicity of US health professionals in the design and implementation of US torture practices has been documented, little is known about the role of health providers, assigned to the US Department of Defense (DoD) at the US Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), who should have been in a position to observe and document physical and psychological evidence of torture and ill treatment. Methods and Findings: We reviewed GTMO medical records and relevant case files (client affidavits, attorney-client notes and summaries, and legal affidavits of medical experts) of nine individuals for evidence of torture and ill treatment and documentation by medical personnel. In each of the nine cases, GTMO detainees alleged abusive interrogation methods that are consistent with torture as defined by the UN Convention Against Torture as well as the more restrictive US definition of torture that was operational at the time. The medical affidavits in each of the nine cases indicate that the specific allegations of torture and ill treatment are highly consistent with physical and psychological evidence documented in the medical records and evaluations by non-governmental medical experts. However, the medical personnel who treated the detainees at GTMO failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms they observed. Psychological symptoms were commonly attributed to "personality disorders" and "routine stressors of confinement." Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment. Psychological assessments conducted by non-governmental medical experts revealed diagnostic criteria for current major depression and/or PTSD in all nine cases. Conclusion: The findings in these nine cases from GTMO indicate that medical doctors and mental health personnel assigned to the DoD neglected and/or concealed medical evidence of intentional harm. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary. © 2011 Iacopino, Xenakis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Trademark
Physicians For Human Rights | Date: 2016-12-01

Computer software application for mobile devices used to collect, document and preserve forensic medical data; Downloadable computer software application for mobile devices used to collect, document and preserve forensic medical data. Providing online non-downloadable computer software application for mobile devices used to collect, document and preserve forensic medical data.


Trademark
Physicians For Human Rights | Date: 2013-07-25

Computer software application for mobile devices used to collect, document and preserve forensic medical data; Downloadable computer software application for mobile devices used to collect, document and preserve forensic medical data. Providing online non-downloadable computer software application for mobile devices used to collect, document and preserve forensic medical data.


News Article | November 4, 2015
Site: www.nature.com

As the world this week commemorates the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918, it is reprehensible that humanitarian rules forged in the suffering and bloodshed of battle are often being violated in contemporary conflicts. In the past month alone, two hospitals run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders) were hit by air strikes. US warplanes destroyed one in Kunduz in Afghanistan — killing 13 MSF staff and 17 others — and another in Yemen was targeted, allegedly by Saudi-led coalition forces. These are not isolated incidents, but part of a string of violations of a fundamental part of international humanitarian law — that warring parties must consider the wounded and the medical staff who care for them as neutral, and protect them from harm. The public and the media must increase calls for political and diplomatic pressure to help to prevent such attacks. The scientific community, and in particular biomedical and clinical researchers and the professional bodies that represent them, must add their voices to this timely and important matter. The need for ground rules in conflicts has been recognized since antiquity, but today’s international humanitarian laws have their roots in the work of the nineteenth-century Swiss businessman, Henry Dunant. Horrified by the thousands of wounded left untreated and dying on the battlefield after the French and Sardinians crushed the Austrian army at Solferino in Italy in 1859, he proposed that states should allow, and protect, humanitarian volunteers to care for those who are wounded. In 1863, he helped to found what was to become the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Dunant’s efforts spurred 16 countries to agree the following year to the first internationally codified rules of war; the first Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. As well as granting neutral status to medical staff, it obliged warring parties to care for wounded enemy prisoners. As the nature of warfare has changed, so the wording and scope of the Geneva Conventions have been regularly revised — for example in 1949 to better protect civilians. The principle of medical neutrality is more relevant today than ever, but it is under increasing threat. Syria, where conflict sparked in 2011, is by far the worst case. As of the end of September, 313 attacks on 227 medical facilities had been reported — 283 of them carried out by government forces, often using indiscriminate ‘barrel bombs’ dropped from helicopters. Over the same period, 679 medical staff have been killed, almost all by government forces, and scores of others have been arrested, imprisoned or tortured. The regime has also deployed chemical weapons. The health system has been all but destroyed in large parts of the country. During peaceful protests in Turkey in 2013 and 2014, the government used violence against clinics and medical staff, and health workers have been arrested and charged with assisting criminals simply for having treated wounded protestors. Similarly, during protests against the government in Bahrain in 2013, doctors and nurses were fired from civil-service posts, then arrested and jailed for the same motive as those in Turkey. Dozens of workers dispensing polio vaccinations have been assassinated in Pakistan and Nigeria. The ICRC has identified almost 2,000 incidents of violence against patients, health workers and medical facilities in 23 countries in 2012 and 2013 alone. These are estimates, but comprehensive monitoring of violations and data are both lacking. However, Susannah Sirkin, director of inter­national policy and partnerships for Physicians for Human Rights, based in New York City, points out that “we can safely say that the bombing of hospitals and deliberate killing of hundreds of medics, especially in Syria, is something more extreme and extensive than we have ever seen”. Among the explanations is a lack of awareness of the Geneva Conventions by protagonists — in what are increasingly not wars between nations, but smaller civil and sectarian wars, often involving non-state actors — but also a poor grasp by the media and public. People may have “become inured to the extraordinary level of targeting of civilians in many conflicts in the past few decades and simply shrug at the inclusion of medical facilities as regular targets”, adds Sirkin. What is worrying, she says, is that the overt targeting of humanitarian and health workers has become the “new normal”, despite it being illegal under international law — and having the effect of depriving entire populations of health care, and children of vital vaccinations. But above all, abuses happen because there is little accountability, with perpetrators operating with almost total impunity, despite their actions often clearly amounting to war crimes — or indeed crimes against humanity. The Geneva Conventions lack a body with teeth to ensure that the rules are respected, or to stop abuses when they are under way. They also lack mechanisms to investigate and prosecute abuses. Accountability has also suffered because many of those affected are voiceless. MSF, by contrast, has both political clout and moral authority, and, for example, is robustly and rightly pressing for an independent international fact-finding commission under the Geneva Conventions into the attacks on its facilities. Momentum to stop the attacks, led by campaigns from humanitarian groups, is building within civil society. Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, and Peter Maurer, the president of the ICRC, last week issued a joint warning about the unprecedented level of violations of international humanitarian law in ongoing conflicts. As well as the armistice, this month marks 100 years since the decision to evacuate troops from the ill-fated 1915 Gallipoli campaign, in which medical staff working under atrocious battlefield conditions suffered extensive casualties. The world has been shocked into action to protect health workers before. It must be again.

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