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New report on medico-legal reports


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The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (shortly to become Freedom From Torture, is launching a very interesting sounding new report entitled Body of evidence: treatment of medico-legal reports for survivors of torture in the UK asylum system. The launch event is on 24 May 2011 at 6pm at Garden Court Chambers. If you would like to go you need to RSVP as spaces are limited.

Details as follows:

The introduction of the report will be followed by a panel-led discussionof the key findings and recommendations for future practice.

The panel comprises: Keith Best, Chief Executive of the Medical Foundation

A senior member of the Tribunal (Asylum and Immigration Chambers) (TBC)

Dr Juliet Cohen, Head of Medical Services at the Medical Foundation

Nadine Finch, Barrister at Garden Court Chambers

The report examines the treatment of Medical Foundation Medico-Legal Reports (MLRs) by Immigration Judges in the Tribunal and assesses compliance with good practice standards and guidelines.

The determinations assessed in the research demonstrate that many Immigration Judges are familiar with and apply guidance given, primarily in case law, on the treatment of expert medical evidence for cases involving a claim of torture, as well as the relevant United Nations standards (Istanbul Protocol).  In most of these cases the appeals are allowed and a grant of refugee status or humanitarian protection is made.

However, the evidence shows that there is a serious lack of consistency in the treatment of Medical Foundation MLRs across the Tribunal and that in a significant number of cases the guidelines given in case law and good practice standards are not followed, leading to a dismissal of the appeal.

The findings of this research have very serious resource and efficiency implications for the Tribunal to consider, since poor decision-making unnecessarily protracts the legal process. However, there is also the very serious consequence of subjecting vulnerable individuals to a process in which their integrity and credibility are repeatedly subject to question and doubt and which may ultimately result in a failure of protection.

This launch event will focus on the consequences of the research for the Tribunal; however there are important implications also for the UK Border Agency. In those cases in our sample where the medical evidence was available at the initial decision stage, the overturn rate on appeal was 69%, indicating serious deficiencies with the UK Border Agency treatment of asylum claims involving torture.

I’ve long had a particular interest in the treatment of expert evidence in the tribunal, so I’ll be going. See you there?

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.