Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

New study: asylum seekers don’t tell all at first opportunity


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This hardly comes as news to many of those who work with asylum seekers. For many years the icebreaker for training sessions delivered by one of the main foundations working with torture survivors was to instruct attendees to turn to the person to their left and tell their most embarrassing secret. Of course, no-one could or would, yet that is exactly what we expect refugees to do. Nevertheless, this is an interesting new study from the Helen Bamber Foundation:

The key message from this study – for clinicians writing expert reports, for solicitors and barristers involved in asylum cases, for Home Office decision makers and for Immigration Tribunal judges – is that people seeking asylum cannot be expected to tell their full story to the first person they have met in a first or single appointment, in a relationship that has no context or opportunity for trust- building. This study suggests that it is difficult for people seeking asylum to disclose traumatic experiences at a first or single meeting with a professional and therefore people seeking asylum may not do so at that stage.

For the full report see The Texture of Narrative Dilemmas: A qualitative study in frontline professionals working with asylum seekers in the UK by Abbas P, von Werthern M, Katona C and Brady F published in the BJPsych Bulletin online by Cambridge University Press: 22 April 2020 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjb.2020.33.

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Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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Colin Yeo

Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.