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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Charity criticises medical care of detained torture survivors

The Second Torture

Charity criticises medical care of detained torture survivorsIn a detailed report of 50 cases, The Second Torture released last week by Lord Dubs and Lord Avebury at a public meeting at the House of Commons, the charity Medical Justice found systematic failings on the part of doctors working in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) to examine patients properly, document signs of torture, or call for the release of torture survivors. 


Professor Cornelius Katona, recently appointed as Royal College of Psychiatrists lead on mental health of asylum seekers said, “Under UKBA policy, survivors of torture should not be detained in IRCs, except in very exceptional circumstances. This study shows that torture survivors are routinely detained, often for prolonged periods which re-traumatizes them and worsens their mental health. 


Of the cases examined, one in 3 had suicidal ideation (half of whom carried out acts of self harm), and 7 in 8 reported their health suffered while in detention.  The doctors and nurses working in IRCs appear to have offered them little or no protection”


Rule 34 & 35

Detention Centre Rule 34 states that doctors must examine the physical and mental health of detainees. Under Rule 35 they must report concerns about detainees’ health to the IRC management and immigration officials. 


Out of 31 medical assessments, in only 5 was there a full mental state examination. Four patients were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by IRC doctors, yet independent doctors found 32/50 to have PTSD.  Only 1/50 was released as a result of the Rule 35 process, but following the intervention of lawyers, independent doctors and others, 48 people were eventually released. This demonstrates an overwhelming failure of the protection mechanism for torture survivors.  




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