HMIP Report Uncovers More Flaws in UKBA Detention Practices
A report published yesterday by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has called for the UK Border Agency to urgently improve the quality of responses to 'Rule 35' reports – a safeguard created by Parliament to ensure that torture survivors are not wrongly detained for immigration purposes – at Dover immigration removal centre.
The process known as 'Rule 35' is in place, among other things, to help the UKBA comply with its own policy against the detention of torture survivors except in 'very exceptional circumstances'. The reports are filed by immigration removal centre doctors when there is a concern that a detained person may have been a victim of torture. The UKBA caseowner should then review whether continued detention is appropriate based on the medical evidence.
Echoing similar concerns he raised earlier this year following an inspection of Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, the Chief Inspector of Prisons found that – at Dover – 'Rule 35 reports were poor' and that 'replies given to Rule 35 reports were generally prompt but dismissive'.
Freedom from Torture has repeatedly pointed to the UKBA's flawed detention practices – which result in torture survivors being wrongfully held in detention – and in response to yet another report highlighting specific failings with the 'Rule 35' process, CEO Keith Best, responded in media articles published across the UK, including the BBC, Daily Express, Evening Standard and Independent.
Keith Best said:
When it comes to the UKBA's efforts to fix the chronically dysfunctional Rule 35 process, HMIP's verdict of 'prompt but dismissive' says it all. The UKBA has ploughed its energies into speeding up processing of Rule 35 forms but these efforts have come to naught for survivors of torture who remain in detention because case owners dismiss the medical evidence in these reports out of hand.
"The example (in the report) of the case owner flatly rejecting the possibility that someone would make a late disclosure of torture involving anal rape is sadly very typical of the cases we see on a regular basis.
"This inspectorate has repeatedly castigated the UKBA for frustrating the operation of Rule 35. Parliament, which created Rule 35, must take further action to hold the UKBA to account and ensure Rule 35 is a meaningful safeguard for torture survivors wrongly detained in these detention centres."