5 Feb 2016

Long delays faced by torture victims with asylum claims

“..the most serious failings concerned the way in which allegations of torture were managed.”

It’s the most critical observation by the borders and immigration chief inspector.

For David Bolt’s report into the Home Office’s asylum casework system comes as Theresa May’s department prepares to respond Stephen Shaw’s damning review of the detention of asylum seekers.

Many are later accepted as having been tortured but only after waiting months for an independent medical report.

In fact the independent chief inspector has found some victims faced even longer delays of more than two years. He notes the only two NGOs, recognised by the Home Office in this field of examination, have become overwhelmed with cases – so much so that the 5 month timetable for assessing torture claims is as he puts it “not grounded in reality.”


His report reveals that the Home Office rejected the vast majority of qualified medical expert opinion – 85% of 1400 reports.

In response the Home Office said such reports are ‘written to a low threshold…and would not amount to independent evidence of torture.’

But added that it is reviewing policy to identify ways to improve and speed up the process. Overall the chief inspector found ‘significant improvements” in the asylum caework system.

“The inspection did not set out to test claims that a ‘culture of disbelief’ exists within the Home Office. It found that decision-makers, and other staff within Asylum Operations (AO), were professional, dedicated, and demonstrated a commitment to fairness.

“However, the quality of interviewing and decision-making needed to improve, along with the recording of the reasons for decisions.”

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