PB Guide for Finding Experts
I. General Country Conditions Reports
Country conditions reports documenting gender issues in a client’s home country must be included in every asylum application.
Country conditions can be obtained through:
i. The Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS)
a. Make an account at: http://cgrs.uchastings.edu/assistance/request.
b. Update password from confirmation email and log in to your account.
c. Under “Request Assistance” tab at the top of the website, click “Get Help With and Asylum Case” tab.
d. Fill out request and hit “Submit Assistance Request Now.”
a. Requests should take only a couple of days — weeks to arrive in your inbox. Click on link provided and include all country conditions reports and expert declarations provided in sub-folders.
ii. Country Conditions Information From U.S. State Department
a. Go to: www.state.gov.
b. Look for client’s country in “A-Z List of Countries and Other Areas” under “Countries & Regions” tab.
c. Include fact sheets, press releases, remarks, or major reports as you see fit.
iii. Human Rights “Executive Summary” Reports from U.S. Department of State
a. Go to: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/.
b. Click on most recent year available on timeline and search under Countries/Regions tab for reports.
iv. Include “Women on the Run” report by UNHCR available at: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/publications/operations/5630f24c6/women-run.html.
a. a quick Google search using any combination of these applicable terms will populate a universe of information: “Human Rights Reports” AND “Human Rights Watch” AND “Amnesty International” AND “Femicide” AND “El Salvador” AND “Guatemala” AND “Honduras” etc.
b. For a narrower search of news outlets, it may be helpful to click on the “News” tab.
II. Individualized Reports By Country Conditions Experts
Individual reports by experts are also needed to substantiate an individual’s claim for asylum and should be included in every asylum application. Such reports should be completed by individuals who are experts on gender issues of the asylum applicant’s home country.
Best way to contact an expert for an individual report is to make a request through the CGRS. http://cgrs.uchastings.edu/assistance/request. After you make a request for general country conditions reports, you can email CGRS and ask for a list of experts. I recommend emailing everyone on the list until you find one or two that best suit your needs as far as timeline and budget.
Tips for working with country conditions experts:
i. Content of Report
a. A country conditions expert drafts his or her report based on a client’s affidavit and should include their opinion, based on his or her expert knowledge, about whether or not the clients’ story aligns with what the expert knows to be true. Expert reports can include sociological analysis, but no legal conclusions.
a. The timeline for an expert report to be finalized should be about a month before the filing deadline. One should budget to have the first draft of the report at least a month before filing in order to allow time for you to review the report, provide feedback to the expert, and inlcude his or her opinions in the legal brief.
a. Costs for expert reports may vary from pro bono — $500.00 dollars.
*Note: experts provided by CGRS have not been vetted by neither the CGRS nor Tahirih Justice Center.
III. Psychological Evaluation
An asylum application may or may not need to include a psychological evaluation. Psychological evaluations are especially necessary to overcome the one-year filing-deadline bar to asylum, if a client filed for asylum after one year of immigrating into the US.
Tips for working with Psychologists to arrange for and obtain a client’s evaluation:
i. Coaching the Expert
a. Before the client has their interview, it is wise to let the evaluator of big traumatic events in your client’s story. This will help prevent holes in the evaluation, which may be interpreted as an omission/contradiction by an adjudicator. It is not recommended that you ask an evaluator to change or add additional information in their evaluation after they finish it.
b. Inform psychologist that their evaluation should only include clinical findings that support reported incidents of abuse in client affidavit and should not include any kind of legal conclusions.
c. Let psychologist know that reports should only include things that the evaluator can defend under oath on cross examination through their expertise and credentials (country conditions for instance are outside the scope if an evaluator’s role).
ii. Language Needs
a. In the case that the client does not speak English and the psychologist does not speak the client’s native language, then an interpreter must be provided. The evaluation is conducted in person, so when selecting a psychologist a client’s transportation needs and geographic location should be taken into account.