Proving Torture: Demanding the Impossible

Freedom from Torure report: November 2016: Report: Home Office Mistreating Evidence Of Torture – RightsInfo

Many who seek asylum in the UK do so because they have suffered torture in their home country. Often they are forced to flee immediately and do not have time to gather evidence for their claim to asylum. Expert medical evidence of torture is sometimes the only evidence they have.

The report makes several findings about how the Home Office handles these claims:

  • Expert medical evidence is often disregarded or mistreated.
  • The standard of certainty required for medical evidence of torture to be accepted is nearly impossible to meet.
  • Many caseworkers view medical evidence as an ‘obstacle’ that they have to overcome in order to reject the application.
  • Caseworkers without clinical qualifications often replace expert medical evidence with their own opinions.

This is at odds with Home Office policy and frequently leads to applications for asylum being wrongly rejected.

The Consequences of Getting it Wrong

Those who are wrongly refused asylum face long periods of uncertainty as the decision is appealed, confronting the possibility that they might be sent back to their abusers. Their suffering is prolonged whilst the taxpayer foots the bill.

There are also consequences for the UK’s obligations under international law:

The Solution

The report proposes two measures to address these problems:

  • The Home Office should immediately provide a full day training module to improve the decision-making of caseworkers.
  • An independent review of the standard of proof in asylum cases, including those involving expert medical evidence of torture.

You can help by emailing your MP, asking that they put pressure on the Home Secretary to take steps to improve decision-making in asylum cases involving torture.

Read the full ‘Proving Torture’ report here.