Report slams asylum system as "inhumane" and "oppressive"
The findings of an exhaustive report into the UK's asylum system, which has been deemed "inhumane" and "oppressive", echo concerns raised by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.
The MF was one of more than 100 NGOs consulted during the drafting of the report, released this week by the Independent Asylum Commission, highlighting concerns raised over the years about the examination and treatment of torture surviving asylum seekers as well as the specialist needs of children.
The Commission's report, hailed as the most comprehensive assessment of the UK's asylum system ever conducted, concluded that the Government's management of asylum-seekers "falls seriously below the standards to be expected of a humane and civilised society".
Last year, more than 150 asylum seekers were released from detention after being assessed by the MF following claims of torture in their country of origin. However, according to the IAC report and as exemplified by cases referred to the MF, many continue to be detained, despite disclosing a history of torture to staff in Immigration Removal Centres.
A Cameroonian client who had been raped and tortured, and who disclosed her ordeal to IRC staff, was recently awarded damages after a judicial review concluded that she had been unlawfully detained. The woman, known only as PB, was not referred to the MF immediately, as Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) guidelines stipulate. She was held in detention for seven months until finally referred to the MF for assessment by another external agency.
"The MF remains critical of the Home Office's continued shortcomings in abiding by its own guidelines which require the identification and removal of torture survivors from detention, yet which allow victims of torture to be detained," said an MF spokesperson.
"Torture survivors have experienced serious and severe human rights abuses. They have often fled from extremely dangerous and arduous circumstances and are already faced with the challenge of rehabilitating while trying to establish their claim to be protected as a refugee.
"It is wholly unacceptable that current procedures allow any victim of torture to be detained, in complete contravention of Home Office guidance..
"We can only hope that this report prompts an urgent and tangible response from the government so that those fleeing human rights violations get the protection they are due."