Every year Freedom from Torture’s doctors, psychologists and counsellors document evidence of the effects of torture through an important legal document: a Medico-Legal Report (MLR). These reports, commissioned by legal representatives, are crucial for enabling survivors of torture to secure safety in the UK and prevent being returned to further torture or possibly death.
MLRs are submitted to the Home Office to support a torture survivor’s asylum claim, or presented as expert testimony in court at an appeal if the individual’s application has previously been turned down.
Examining the impact
During the production of a report, clients are asked to give a full history of their ill-treatment. It is here that Freedom from Torture clinicians begin their careful and delicate work examining scars and injuries such as badly healed fractures, lacerations and burns, damaged ligaments or chronic bone infection.
These reports document evidence of the serious psychological impact of torture on survivors. A Freedom from Torture Medico-Legal Report is a robust legal document, which applies set out in the Istanbul Protocol – international guidelines for the documentation of torture. These guidelines assert the consistency of the evidence they find with the individual’s account of their torture.
A catalogue of cruelty
Scars from burns and beatings are common. Many survivors have been subject to falaka, which is beating on the soles of the feet. People who have undergone falaka have difficulty walking and experience extreme pain. It rarely leaves a sign, for which it is sadly favoured as a method of torture across the world.
Many of Freedom from Torture’s clients – men, women and children – have been raped and sexually assaulted. HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), fertility problems and pelvic inflammatory conditions are extremely common.
Find out how to make a referral for a Medico-Legal Report