Ill informed Government decisions prolong suffering of torture victims

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (MF) has backed calls for "urgent action" to protect torture survivors in the wake of a new report which suggests their suffering is being unnecessarily prolonged because of a lack of understanding among Government decision-makers.

In today's report from the Immigration Asylum Commission, the Commissioners say the dignity of torture survivors is still being compromised and call for an end to the policy of detaining torture victims and age-disputed young people.

"The UK Border Agency claims to take its duties seriously, yet we continue to see extremely traumatised people who have arrived in the UK to seek refugee protection who then experience further trauma because of a policy of detention, which published guidance categorically states should not apply to torture survivors," said Leanne MacMillan, MF Director of Policy & External Affairs.

The report, Deserving Dignity, states that fast-track procedures, used to detain refused asylum seekers, contravene the spirit of the UN Refugee Convention and can lead to "unjust decisions" and Commissioners recommend it be phased out.

The Commissioners also recommend that UKBA decision-makers should be trained on the impact of torture on an asylum seeker's ability to disclose details of their case.

"The IAC states that it remains unconvinced that the real impacts of detaining torture survivors are widely and comprehensively understood by the UKBA," added MacMillan.

"The impact of such failings in the system cannot be underestimated. Lack of access to legal advice, inadequate access to healthcare, and a widespread misunderstanding about the needs of torture survivors are serious failings in a system that should uphold and not compromise the legitimate rights of one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

"We hope that Government ministers will respond with some practical suggestions on changes to the asylum system that are long overdue."

IAC report, 'Deserving Dignity'
IAC website