henry davis iv - hap davis - clinical counselling sport psychology refugee humanitarian and compassionate assessment fMRI cognitive neuroscience
henry davis iv - hap davis  - clinical counselling sport psychology refugee humanitarian and compassionate assessment fMRI cognitive neuroscience


Assessment of asylum-seeking persons

The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali once wrote: "Refugees and other uprooted people are the products of failure – the failure to resolve conflict and its underlying causes: intolerance, antagonism, and poverty." More recently, António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has stated “Conflicts just go on – some forever, others until they end in a compromise that could just as well have been achieved at the beginning, (sometimes) without the fighting... these crises have no military solution1 … (and) are complex; it’s best to stick to principles: saving lives, human rights and the rule of law, and tolerance and diversity – (in order that) all societies may be free to become multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious.” On the referral of refugee lawyers, I assist some of the most vulnerable of vulnerable persons to express their fear of persecution and unique reasons for fleeing from their homes. This work is principally focused on applications for Convention Refugee status applications for Humanitarian and Compassionate consideration.

I have been privileged to hear the stories of roughly 500 such persons in the past 25-years – stories of atrocity and unspeakable suffering that should not require explanation. Still, the accounts of refugees - accounts of torture, mass rape, honor killings, gang executions of family, mutilation, forced induction of child soldiers - require a psychological evaluation of the consequences of their traumas and a prediction of what may reasonably be expected if the application for asylum is denied.

These persons have come from across the globe – African nations, the sub-Indian continent, Asia, eastern Europe, and the Americas - with a compelling and singular horror at the capacity of humans to harm. Fearing certain death on their return, some consider suicide as the alternative to re-victimization. Some cannot speak with eye contact. Some cannot tell the story without choking on their tears or vomit. Some cannot manage to do more in one day than to stare at the floor of a near-empty apartment, lost in unwanted reminiscence and fear. Some are randomly angry at innocent targets.

I have appeared as an expert before the Immigration and Refugee Board, my opinions have been cited in Federal Court decisions, I have written close to 500 reports on behalf of persecuted persons, and I have published in the area of depression and PTSD. In all, this has been to document a simple truth: subjective fear may leave a person with a such unrelenting nightmare that hope is stifled and protection is the only alternative. Even safety, however, is sometimes insufficient to give peace.