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    Asylum Seekers Turned Away by UK Gov't Despite Medical Proof of Torture

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    A new report released by human rights charity Freedom from Torture, shows that the UK Home Office is rejecting asylum claims made by people who have survived torture in their native countries and are now fleeing to the UK for safety.

    "When the medical report was refused by the Home Office, you feel very bad… They just refuse like that and it was a very bad experience and you can imagine the embarrassment," a survivor told Freedom from Torture.

    "It's not an easy process, if I get it wrong they may not believe me. You feel very bad and emotional and you think if they don't accept the medical report, what will I do, maybe they will send me back to my torturers?" the survivor added.

    The detailed findings expose a group of 50 expert medico-legal reports, documenting physical and physiological evidence of torture which were treated by asylum caseworkers in the UK Home Office.

    There is little research on how many refugees seeking asylum in the UK are survivors of torture, however one study suggests that as many as 27 percent of refugees, living in high income countries like the UK, are survivors of torture

    The latest research illustrates that existing policy guidance is not being followed and that expert medico-legal reports are poorly handled by caseworkers.

    "In the cases we follow up, despite the Home Office having their own policy guidelines in assessment of people who have been tortured, they [the Home Office] don't follow their own policy guidelines. The impact of refusal can be devastating, from suicide to fear and anxiety," said Dr. Juliet Cohen, Head of Doctors at Freedom from Torture.

    Survivors seeking asylum in the UK can find it almost impossible to prove to the Home Office that they were tortured.

    This is allowed to happen, even when the survivor has presented an extensive medical report, showing the levels of torture they received in their native country. The evidence is often disregarded, mistreated or misused by the Home Office. Also the demands of the Home Office, according to Freedom from Torture, go far beyond the legal standard of proof that applies to asylum claims.

    "Being disbelieved and having their medical evidence mishandled can be catastrophic for torture survivors. The survivors know that when their claim is rejected, they could be forced to return to their native country, where they may suffer more torture," a Freedom from Torture spokesperson told Sputnik.

    "Harrowing legal appeals also prolong their psychological trauma which impedes their chances of rehabilitation and social integration."

    Freedom from Torture, believes that it is the fault of asylum caseworkers, who have no clinical qualifications and they often replace the expert opinion of medical doctors.

    The NGO has said that the only solution to this problem is for the Home Office to order immediate measures to improve the decision-making process in asylum cases.

    Freedom from Torture have also demanded that an independent public audit be taken by a body with the requisite legal expertise, and they have suggested that this be done by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    ​The Home Office hit back at the claims made by the charity, saying that the report is based on a small sample, less than one tenth of a percent, out of the 52,000 asylum decisions taken over the respective time period. 

    "Asylum decision makers are required to consider and give equal weighting to all the evidence provided and our guidance clearly states that it is not their role to dispute clinical findings in medical reports," a spokesperson for the Home Office said in a recent interview.

    The latest report from the charity Freedom from Torture couldn't have come at a worse time for the UK government, who only recently were accused of refusing to accept refugee children, as part of the Dubs agreement that was signed in 2016. The strict guidelines implemented by the Home Office add fuel to the fire as to whether the UK will ever learn to open its doors to a greater number of people in need.

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    Tags:
    asylum applications, survivor, refugee, abuse, asylum, torture, migrants, UK Home Office, Britain, United Kingdom
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