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Call for evidence: challenges for torture survivors during the asylum process  

Call for evidence: challenges for torture survivors during the asylum process  

Freedom from Torture is undertaking new research into the challenges torture survivors face throughout the asylum process and how these impact the outcome of their claim. The aims are to raise awareness of the particular issues faced by survivors in the asylum interview and to advocate for improved practices within the Home Office. By improving practice at the asylum interview stage, the ultimate goal is to increase the likelihood that the Home Office makes the right decision first time.

The Home Office recently published an updated version of its guidance on asylum interviews. It contains little progressive change in its instructions on interviewing torture survivors and other vulnerable applicants, but there are some significant changes, especially in regard to the introduction of video-conferencing for substantive interviews.

While not all substantive interviews are conducted by video-conferencing, and the Home Office does recognise that video-conferencing will not be suitable for all applicants, its default position is that any applicant may be invited to interview in this way. The onus is on the individual applicant to self-identify as a person who is unsuitable, and opt out.

As a result, vulnerable applicants, including torture survivors, may be interviewed by video-conference without knowing that they should be exempt according to Home Office policy or that they can opt out themselves. 

Robust evidence is crucial to drive the substantial policy change that is urgently needed regarding the asylum interview process for survivors of torture.

In this context, Freedom from Torture is undertaking a survey of legal representatives to explore the challenges that survivors of torture face in practice at substantive interview, and how these affect the asylum outcome.

Legal representatives for torture survivors have a unique insight into challenges linked to the asylum interview and their consequences. The voice of legal representatives is crucial in helping to build a strong evidence base.

Freedom from Torture is therefore asking those with experience representing survivors of torture to spare 20 minutes to complete the survey, sharing their perspective and drawing on their experience of representing survivors of torture through the asylum process. The survey findings will feed into the project’s overall findings and related public advocacy and no identifying information will be shared or published. 

Thank you in advance for contributing to Freedom from Torture’s efforts to improve Home Office interview practice, and increase the likelihood of a fair decision first time for survivors of torture. 

The survey link is here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NQ2LXMW 

For further information, please contact Freedom from Torture at research@freedomfromtorture.org.

Freedom From Torture

Freedom from Torture is the only human rights organisation dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors who seek refuge in the UK. We do this through direct and second-tier services from our specialist centres across the UK. Each year we support more than 1,000 torture survivors, primarily via psychological therapies, forensic documentation of torture, legal and welfare advice, and creative projects.

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