Helping detainees in need of medical assistance

Medical Justice challenges the detention of victims of torture in the High Court

Monday, March 6th, 2017
Medical Justice challenges the detention of victims of torture in the High Court
Judicial review hearing scheduled Tuesday 7th – Friday 10th March 2017 

A Medical Justice spokesperson said : “A new Home Office policy purports to lessen the risk of harm to detained torture survivors yet our evidence shows that it is actually likely to increase the risk of harm.”
 
Medical Justice is bringing a case in the High Court, challenging the Home Office’s new ‘Adults at Risk’ detention policy, which fundamentally weakens protections for vulnerable victims of torture. The policy relies on mechanisms that have been demonstrated by the Shaw review to be ineffective, it limits the definition of torture to acts carried out by state actors and requires victims of torture to present evidence that they are being harmed by detention in addition to proving a history of torture. The UNCAT definition of torture is very technical and is likely to be applied by caseworkers and doctors in such a manner as to exclude cases of non state torture, Further details of our concerns regarding the ‘Adults at Risk’ policy can be found here. We also raised concerns about the new detention policy together with other NGOs.
 
The High Court granted Medical Justice permission to bring a Judicial Review of the policy on the 15 November 2016. We are represented by Bhatt Murphy solicitors, Shu Shin Luh and Stephanie Harrison.  
 
On the 21st of November Mr Justice Ouseley also granted permission to apply for judicial review for eight additional claims whose focus is to challenge the adoption of the restrictive definition of torture in article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (UNCAT) in the Home Office’s detention policies from 12 September 2016, to be linked to medical Justice’s claim.  The court has directed a full judicial review hearing 7-10th March 2017.  The Court also granted an application made by Duncan Lewis Solicitors for interim relief in the form of replacing the UNCAT definition of torture with the broader definition in the pre-12 September 2016 policies.
 
Medical Justice welcomes the decision to suspend the narrower definition of torture and to revert to the previous, wider definition. It will mean that more vulnerable torture survivors will be protected from being detained and being harmed by detention. We hope the Home Office changes to the policy on detaining torture survivors will be reversed and a process instituted that works effectively to identify and protect vulnerable people. 
 
A briefing note can be downloaded here, see the Guardian’s coverage on the permission hearing in November 2016 here.
 
Medical Justice is a charity that sends volunteer clinicians to visit detainees in immigration removal centres to document their scars of torture and challenge any instances of inadequate healthcare they encounter.
 
Contact : Emma Ginn on emma.ginn@medicaljustice.org.uk / 0207 561 8898