The Second Torture: the immigration detention of torture survivors
Guest post by Natasha Tsangarides. Natasha is a researcher currently working for Medical Justice, and is the author of the report MJ have recently published, Second Torture.
“The Second Torture” report exposes how victims of torture are routinely being held in immigration detention centres in disregard of UK policy and legislation. The safeguarding procedure, known as Rule 35, designed to protect torture survivors was found to be not fit for purpose. The report is based on 50 people who have medical evidence of the torture they sustained, 14 of whom now have been granted leave to remain.
Policy guidance and legislation make clear that individuals who have independent evidence of torture should be released, absent very exceptional circumstances. However, this report shows that victims of torture are routinely detained and the release mechanism fails to work. Of the 50 cases examined, only one person was released through Rule 35.
The findings suggest start to end process failure with a catalogue of errors documented. This includes clinical mismanagement, unqualified people writing reports, detainees being used as interpreters and health screenings taking place in the middle of the night. Inadequate and ill-considered responses from UKBA workers were the norm, exposing an inability to interpret medical evidence, a refusal culture and a misunderstanding about the legal standard of proof.
The impact of detention on this sample population was astounding. Of the medical notes examined, 23% went on hunger strike; 34% experienced suicidal intent/ideation or actual self‐harm; 11 were transferred to hospital as acute emergencies; and there was one near death event. As many (ex) detainees described, detention was a “second torture”, provoking re-traumatisation.
UKBA and their contractors must be brought to account. That they can treat some of the most vulnerable individuals in this way and behind closed doors is a disgrace. All we ask for is that the government implements its own policy.
What you can do:
Medical Justice is calling for the immediate implementation of Rule 35 demonstrated through an independent audit of the process, which assesses its effectiveness. To put pressure on the government to do this, we ask you to contact your MPs and urge them to sign Early day Motion 95.
The full text reads as follows:
That this House welcomes Medical Justice’s new report, “The Second Torture”: the immigration detention of torture survivors, that demonstrates how the UK Border Agency is failing to fulfil its statutory duty of safeguarding torture survivors, as outlined in Rule 35 (3) of the Detention Centre Rules 2001; notes with concern that the poor implementation of Rule 35 has been raised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the Joint Committee of Human Rights and NGOs for nine years, highlighting the continued failure to identify and/or release torture victims from immigration detention; urges the government to take the necessary steps to safeguard this group; and calls for an independent audit of the Rule 35 process, which assesses its effectiveness; and further calls that if the results of such an audit do not adequately demonstrate that Rule 35 is functioning effectively that a discrete independent inquiry should be carried out thereafter.
We hope to get a number of MPs to sign this Early Day Motion and would be grateful if you could write to your MP. Template letters are available here: http://www.medicaljustice.org.uk/parliamentary-lobbying/53/1952-edm-95-detention-of-torture-survivors.html
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