Freedom from Torture - Lord Alf Dubs: "For torture survivors, it's vital the Home Office gets this policy right."

Lord Alf Dubs: "For torture survivors, it's vital the Home Office gets this policy right."

Blog by Lord Alf Dubs - Freedom from Torture Patron

Right now, the Home Office is reviewing the definition of torture within its Adults at Risk policy. If it gets this definition wrong, vulnerable people, like torture survivors, could be wrongly detained for immigration purposes, causing significant pain and distress. This is why I urge you to sign Freedom from Torture’s urgent letter to the Home Secretary.

Immigration detention is hugely damaging for refugees who’ve survived torture: it causes or worsens anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, suicidal thoughts and even self-harm. It interrupts medical treatment and the indefinite nature of detention can cause despair and a sense of injustice.

This is why it’s been a long-standing Home Office policy to not detain survivors of torture, except in very exceptional circumstances. In theory, this policy was good but, in practice, it wasn’t working because the Home Office failed to provide the resources required to ensure the safeguards functioned effectively.

The Adults at Risk policy was brought in to address a series of court judgments which found that detention in the UK amounted to “inhumane and degrading treatment” and the findings of an independent review, the Shaw Review, commissioned by the Home Office, which found detention to be seriously failing vulnerable people.

But the new policy fell far short and vulnerable people were still being detained. A recent High Court judgment ruled that the definition of torture being used by the Home Office under this policy was unlawful. The Home Office accepted that there are failings, and asked Stephen Shaw, author of the first review, to come back and review Home Office progress against his initial recommendations.

Despite all this, and the obvious need for proper, expert consultation to create a policy that actually works, the Home Office has just drafted a new torture definition and invited only a small group of organisations to feed in. They refused to share the definition with a wider group of experts in international law and clinical practice prior to finalising the definition, and neither have they waited for the findings of Shaw’s most recent review to be published.

Freedom from Torture fears that the new torture definition will not protect torture survivors.

This definition needs examination by experts in international law and clinical practice before it goes to Parliament. This is why Freedom from Torture is calling on the Home Secretary to halt the current redrafting process and allow time for proper consultation and scrutiny so we can get this vital piece of legislation right this time.

This is why I urge you to sign Freedom from Torture’s letter to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP.

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