Political Asylum, Anthropology and the Role of the Expert Witness

Richard A. Lobban,*

Political Asylum, Anthropology and the Role of the Expert Witness.

This is a long step from being an undergraduate biology and anthropology student to part-time Expert Witness. But the four fields of holistic American anthropology led me to non-western Studies, to language acquisition. Long-term residence in Africa, as part of participant observations led me to explore, learn and know about country conditions. Cultural relativism brought me to humanistic concern and understanding for others.

Since my testimony is sworn and notarized against charges of perjury, I must ‘tell the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth’ . All questions and my answers must have total fidelity to the facts as best as I know them. I have had cases when my testimony is by CCTV to jails and detention centers and the client is freed from orange jump suits, to cases where the claimant finally is awarded a green card and freedom, to cases where my testimony kept a claimant in prison, to cases where clients had committed minor or very serious felonies and was not worthy of asylum but deportation should be withheld until governance by civil law may be restored in their home nation.

Usually, I have not met in person but have learned of his or her situation through his attorneys and sometimes interviewed by telephone and Skype. We discuss various topics in colloquial Arabic, French or English to get a better understanding of their claim and for me to be confident of their personal veracity and to confirm their credibility.

He or She is furthermore at serious to grave risk if forced to return. I also confirm that insofar as the facts stated in my report are within my own knowledge. I have made clear which they are and I believe them to be true, and that the opinions I have expressed represent my true and complete professional opinion.

Anthropol Open J. 2017; 2(2):29-30. doi: 10.17140/ANTPOJ-2-110