Home Office challenged on new asylum statistics
The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture has challenged the Home Office to spell out the basis for a claim in the latest asylum statistics issued today [subs: 06.26.00] that the proportion of asylum appeals dismissed by adjudicators from the Independent Appellate Authority is growing steadily.
The Foundation fears that officials from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) are now routinely ignoring evidence of torture from countries such as Sri Lanka and Turkey, and that the claim is misleading, masking a continued overturning of IND decisions on asylum applicants from certain countries.
Statistics for May show that the number of appeals dismissed by adjudicators, who thereby uphold the IND's original decision to refuse asylum, climbed from 74% in January to 82%.
But a report issued today by the Medical Foundation, Caught in the Middle: a study of Tamil torture survivors coming to the UK from Sri Lanka based on the medical examination of 49 recent Tamil arrivals in the UK, concludes that the Home Office is almost certainly failing to offer the protection it is required to provide under international law to protect those from Sri Lanka at risk of torture if returned.
It reveals that almost half (48%) of Home Office decisions on Sri Lankans appealed in 1998 - the last year in which a country by country breakdown was available - were overturned, with some 495 of 1,040 Sri Lankan appeals being found by the Immigration Appellate Authority to have been wrongly decided.
The report shows present Home Office refusal reasons to be inaccurate in questioning asylum seekers' credibility on inadequate grounds, in not using its own country information to judge asylum claims, and in ignoring the applicant's testimony and medical evidence of torture.
The Medical Foundation's Director of Public Affairs, Sherman Carroll, said today: "In the case of Sri Lanka and a number of other countries, the glib assertion that adjudicators are increasingly upholding initial IND decisions is alarming, as there is no evidence that the use of torture is diminishing.
"We believe that the claim masks the fact that in the case of certain countries like Sri Lanka, the adjudicators are still having to correct a high percentage of wrong decisions. The easiest way to settle the matter is for the Home Office to give a country by country breakdown of decisions made by the adjudicators."