Government fails to protect victims of torture from harm in immigration detention, says Joan Ryan MP
Joan Ryan MP will today call on the Government to address serious failings in the immigration detention system, which have led to hundreds of victims of torture being unlawfully detained.
On Wednesday 20 December, Joan Ryan will bring a new piece of legislation before Parliament to pressure the Government to improve immigration detention safeguards for victims of torture and other vulnerable people, including those that have suffered from severe physical, psychological or sexual violence.
In September 2016, the Home Office took the decision to narrow the definition of torture it used in its flagship ‘Adults at Risk’ immigration detention policy, so that it only referred to violence carried out by state actors – excluding vulnerable survivors of non-state abuse. The High Court ruled in October 2017 that this decision was unlawful and the policy overall has, according to the charity Medical Justice, “fundamentally weakened protections for vulnerable detainees leading to more rather than fewer being detained, for longer.”
Joan Ryan’s Bill would radically improve the current situation by changing the law to ensure that the definition of torture used in future policy is broad enough to cover all those who are most likely to suffer from harm in detention. In addition, her Bill would protect victims of torture and vulnerable people before harm occurs and ensure that vulnerable people who are unfit for detention are released.
Joan Ryan MP said:
“The Government’s record on the immigration detention of torture victims and other vulnerable people is shameful. In its initial 10 weeks of implementation the ‘Adults at Risk’ policy was applied incorrectly in almost 60% of 340 cases. We’ve also seen horrendous cases of individuals being beaten, knifed and flogged by non-state agents in homophobic attacks in their country of origin, who have then fled to the UK, been unlawfully detained and seen their mental health deteriorate in detention.
The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution, but the torment faced by many individuals in the Government’s immigration detention system runs counter to this country’s proudest traditions.
Given that the High Court ruled the Home Office must review and reissue the ‘Adults at Risk’ policy, this Bill provides a timely opportunity to ensure that we properly protect victims of torture and other vulnerable people from harm.”