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Notes from the Ground

CVT World, June 2024

Published June 18, 2024

Welcome to the June 2024 issue of CVT World, CVT’s periodic compilation of the latest news, stories and public activities from our team.

Honoring Survivors: June 26, Int’l Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Every year, the Center for Victims of Torture commemorates the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at many of our locations. This day is meaningful to us as we recognize those who lost their lives to torture and all those who survived.

Please join us for a special online event: Courageous Voices. CVT’s development team will host their annual fundraising event on June 26, celebrating the voices of survivors and people who have gone to great lengths to support victims of torture. CVT’s annual Eclipse Award will be presented at this event, honoring a recipient who has made a difference in the fight against torture. The event will be held on June 26 at 7 pm Eastern. Be sure to register here!

News Commentary on the Israel-Palestine Conflict

Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO, was quoted in this article in Inter Press Service News about war crimes accusations against Israel. He notes that the Israeli government’s pursuit of a policy of collective punishment of Palestinians resulted in loss of global sympathy that was generated after the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. He says, “There is no such thing as a safe zone or a so-called precision strike if you are bombing an area where displaced children are sleeping nearby in tents.”

There is no such thing as a safe zone or a so-called precision strike if you are bombing an area where displaced children are sleeping nearby in tents.”

Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president & CEO

Discussion on Sexual Violence Prevention in Minnesota

As part of an event titled, “Investing in Safety and Survivors: A Discussion of Sexual Violence Prevention and Accountability in Minnesota,” Pete Dross, senior advisor for external relations, moderated a panel of experts on topics related to this recent report on civil commitment and efforts to curb sexual violence. The day-long event was hosted by the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center (SOLPRC) at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA).

CVT Denounces Executive Order Effectively Halting Asylum Seeking in the U.S.

CVT issued this statement in response to President Biden’s executive order imposing a cap on asylum processing in the U.S. when 2,500 people per day cross the border between ports of entry. The statement notes, “The new ban is particularly shocking because it subjects people who have already suffered unspeakable harm at the hands of violent regimes and gangs to severe penalties simply for seeking help from the U.S., including a five-year ban on admission to the U.S. and potential criminal penalties.” The order will likely face legal challenges. “To prevent someone from applying for asylum because they happen to be arrival number 2,501 on any given day is not only arbitrary but also cruel.”

Leadership Meeting with Jordan Minister of Social Development

Recently in Amman, CVT leaders met with Jordanian Minister of Social Development Wafa Bani Mustafa to discuss humanitarian efforts. The group spoke about the importance of our humanitarian partnership as well as the fact that Jordan hosts more than 1.3 million refugees, a full 7% of the country’s total population. Osama Al-Mohammad, Jordan country director; Leslie Tou, program manager; Fawn Bernhardt-Norvell, vice president of advancement; and Simon Adams are shown in this photo meeting with the minister and her aides.

Coalition Work in Support of Survivors of Sexual Violence

CVT was proud to participate in a five-day training session in Iraq, titled, “Engagement with Survivors of Sexual Violence and Violence Against Women and Girls.” Yusra Al-Kailani, CVT resilience programming trainer/psychotherapist, worked with coalition partners on a new toolkit titled “Toolkit for Ethical Engagement with Survivors,” and she was a featured trainer in this session. The training was hosted by Coalition for Just Reparations and the Jiyan Foundation. Read more and check out photos of Yusra and our partners here.

Webinar and Report: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Refugees in the U.S.

CVT participated in a recent webinar focused on findings in a new coalition report titled, “Policy Guide: Improving Access to Mental Healthcare for Refugees and Other Displaced People in the United States.” Darlene Lynch, head of external relations, CVT Georgia, spoke on the panel about CVT’s advocacy work and noted that interest in mental health care has increased at federal, state and int’l levels, and the cultural and linguistic needs of refugees are starting to be heard. She noted the bipartisan support in Georgia this year of an addition this year of a pathway for relicensing of foreign-trained mental health professionals.

Designing a Safe and Supportive Approach to Massage for Torture Survivors

“Massage is one potent way to engage the healing power of the relaxation response. However, massage is not accessible to everyone,” write Dr. Jennifer J. Esala, senior researcher, and Sara Phillips, social worker and massage therapist, in this article. “At CVT, we’re working to make massage accessible and acceptable to our clients by developing an approach that’s culturally appropriate, linguistically adapted and trauma-informed.” The team is advancing their TCI-Massage approach, short for Trauma-Informed and Culturally-Responsive Integrated Massage Therapy, as part of a research study.

Serial Podcast Closes Series on Guantánamo

Noted New York Times podcast “Serial” finished its fourth season with an episode titled “This is the Weirdness,” covering the case against the Guantánamo detainees accused of planning the 9/11 attacks. They focus on the experience of members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, who lost family members in the terror attack. At the end of the episode, a special thanks is given to Scott Roehm, CVT director of global policy and advocacy, for his contributions to the episode.

BIG Partnership in Georgia Wins Prestigious Award

We won! The Business and Immigration for Georgia (BIG) Partnership received the Doug Hooker Award for Excellence in Workforce Equity from CareerRise. The BIG Partnership was co-founded by CVT Georgia and partners to build a stronger, more inclusive economy, where all Georgians, including those who are foreign-born, can thrive. BIG is the first and only partnership of its kind in Georgia that is working to address workforce gaps by maximizing the global talent in Georgia’s ever-growing refugee and immigrant communities. Darlene Lynch is shown in the photo. And check out their new website here.

“What Can Repair Look Like Through a Syrian Victims’ Fund?”

CVT works in partnership with organizations focused on reparations and on centering the voices of survivors of the Syrian conflict. Leaders from two of these organizations, Global Survivors Fund and Association for the Detained and Missing in Sednaya Prison, published the above-titled opinion piece in Just Security, writing about creation of an international fund for victims of conflict.

Working in Coalition with Partners

Working with partners brings strength to CVT’s policy advocacy. In recent weeks, we participated in numerous actions that support survivors of torture. Below are some of these coalition and partner actions.

  • CVT Georgia signed this letter to U.S. congress members from Georgia, requesting support for legal protections for undocumented residents, including support for employment visas and updates to the temporary protected status program for several countries. The authors write that these protections “would benefit the hard-working immigrant populations in Georgia and provide families with much deserved peace of mind.” This letter was covered in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Politically Georgia roundup.
  • CVT endorsed actions by organizations, lawmakers and President Biden as the United States reached the 12th anniversary of passage of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, which allowed work and education access to young people born in the U.S. to immigrant parents. They seek permanent status for these protections. These actions were covered in this article in the Rio Grande Guardian.
  • CVT signed this letter to the U.S. secretary of homeland security, urging action on commitments made on behalf of stateless people. The authors raise specific concerns about lack of action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to recognize statelessness and consider it a factor where they hold jurisdiction.
  • A coalition letter to U.S. Senate leadership was signed by CVT and partner organizations, registering strong opposition to reported plans to bring back an immigration bill which would create new barriers to seeking asylum. The authors write, “We urge Democratic leadership to fulfill their promise to immigrant communities and to the values we should and must uphold as a country: values of freedom, family, and dignity.” The letter made the news in this story in The Hill.

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