By Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel

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As the world turns its attention towards the early days of a Joe Biden presidency, those of us advocating for more humane immigration policies are expecting his and Vice President-elect Harris’s administration to significantly improve the lives and prospects of asylum seekers, and the torture survivors among them. During the presidential campaign, immigration was largely drowned in a tidal wave of other issues, COVID-19 being the biggest. …


By Curt Goering, executive director, Center for Victims of Torture

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Today, millions of people around the world are marking World Mental Health Day, an initiative of the World Health Organization. Observed every year on October 10, World Mental Health Day was created to increase global awareness of mental health issues, inspire action in support of mental health and shine a light on the gaps in mental health care. The goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day is increased investment in mental health. …


By Curt Goering, executive director, Center for Victims of Torture; and Darlene Lynch, head of external relations, Center for Victims of Torture Georgia

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After being targeted for serving as a translator for the United States Army in Afghanistan, Fahran was forced to flee for his life and submit himself to U.S. border officials to seek asylum. Rediet was imprisoned twice after she took a stand for democracy in her African nation, only averting death after traveling by boat, by car and on foot to seek protection here. Pablo and his wife lived in fear of lawless Colombian gangs that threatened them and their family and had no choice but to make the dangerous trek to the U.S. …


By Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel

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When President Trump spoke of building a wall during his xenophobic presidential campaign, we knew he meant a physical structure between Mexico and the U.S. While his calls for this wall made headlines week after week even after he was elected, the true wall closing access to immigrants and asylum seekers was slowly, but very tangibly, being built through policies pushed forward by his administration, with the apparent goal of stopping at all costs the entry into the United States of some of the most vulnerable people in the world — asylum-seekers.

In the past three and a half years, these policies have been decimating the right to seek asylum — brick by brick. And now, as the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has shut down the right to seek asylum completely under the guise of protecting people from the pandemic. On March 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order closing the border for 30 days, and in May extended the order indefinitely. …


By Edna Gicovi, psychotherapist/trainer, CVT Nairobi

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It’s early on a Tuesday morning. Michel*, a refugee from Burundi, sits inside a church building staring blankly at his phone. He is not here for an early morning church service. He spent the night here. This is his current home as he has been unable to pay his rent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. The pastor at the church lets him sleep here, though with constant reminders that he cannot continue to stay for too long. Sometimes he is lucky to get one meal out of a few congregants who come to pray in the church. …


By Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel

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As COVID19 continues to spread around the world, Venezuela is no exception. The country faces an even grimmer fate than many of its sister nations, as its citizens live under the authoritarian Maduro regime, in a hyper-inflated economy on the verge of collapse. Today, Venezuela is the number one country filing for affirmative asylum with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), meaning that individuals apply once they are inside the United States, as opposed to at a port of entry or upon apprehension. …


By Curt Goering, CVT executive director

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Today marks the fifth anniversary of the public release of the executive summary, findings and conclusions of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s post 9/11 detention and interrogation program. This 525-page summary details the CIA’s use of illegal torture techniques and efforts to cover them up. The criminal particulars of the program such as waterboarding and stuffing men into coffin-shaped boxes for hours — methods referred to by its operators as “enhanced interrogation techniques” — horrified Americans as we learned of the violence committed in our name.

But even at 500+ pages in length, the summary is merely a crack through which we can peer at the horrible truths contained within the full, unreleased 6,700-page “Torture Report.” In other words: the summary represents only a tiny fraction of the full report, the overwhelming majority of which languishes as a classified document. While the release of the executive summary half a decade ago was lauded by many, CVT included, as an important step toward transparency, the fact that the full report remains unreleased is reason for grave concern. If the full report stays buried, the lessons from its pages will go unlearned. The message sent to future administrations, as well as governments around the world, is that human rights are not fundamental enough to the U.S. for our government even to take the steps necessary to safeguard against their violation in the future. Put more bluntly, if acts of illegal torture can be concealed, it sends the message that torture remains an option. …


Curt Goering is CVT executive director.

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Many movies bear the phrase “Based on a True Story,” but few movies have roots in truths as important to the soul of America and fraught with cover-ups and lies as The Report starring Adam Driver as Dan Jones and Annette Bening as Senator Dianne Feinstein. The film recounts the six-year struggle — lead by Senator Feinstein and driven daily by Jones and fellow intelligence committee staffers Evan Gottesman, Chad Tanner, and Alissa Starzak — to bring to light the CIA’s use of illegal torture techniques in the fever for information following the 9/11 attacks. …


By Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel

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Right about the time I began representing asylum seekers from Central America as an immigration attorney, I started watching “The Walking Dead” (TWD), a TV show about the zombie apocalypse. I have never been someone able to deal with gore, but my husband and I figured out a system in which I run out of the room during violent scenes and return once he tells me the scene has passed. …


CBP Cannot Act as Both Captor and Confidant

By Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos, CVT senior policy counsel

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When I practiced immigration law, it could take several visits for my clients to share deeply personal information which often had a significant impact on their cases, such as if they had been raped in their home countries or if they were LGBT. For survivors of torture and trauma, establishing trust — even with someone offering help, and even when lives are on the line — can be extremely difficult. My clients knew I was there to help, but their trauma made opening up to me excruciating. Imagine how painful it would be, then, to try to share these intimate details with an armed, uniformed, police-like officer who may have apprehended them at the border. …

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Center for Victims of Torture

The Center for Victims of Torture™ (CVT) is dedicated to healing survivors and ending torture.

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