If you have been tortured abroad, securing your asylum or immigration status in the UK will be crucial in ensuring that you are not returned to a place where you are at risk of being tortured again. The law surrounding these claims is complex. This means that you will require expert advice based on your specific circumstances.
REDRESS is not able to provide immigration and asylum advice. Those approved to provide such advice can be found via the following links:
- Government-approved immigration advisors directory
- Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) member’s directory
- The Law Society’s ‘Find a Solicitor’ database
It may also be helpful for you to read through the following resource that provides information on the asylum and immigration system, and what to expect when a lawyer is working on your case:
- the Right to Remain toolkit
Detention in the UK
If you have previously suffered torture, you should generally not be detained in an Immigration Removal Centre in the UK. You should seek legal advice urgently if you are a survivor of torture facing detention or if you know someone in this position. See Getting help below.
Ill-Treatment in Immigration Removal Centres
If you believe you are being mistreated in immigration detention in the UK, or you know someone who is, you should contact the police, a legal advisor, or one of the organisations listed under Getting help below, while also making a complaint to those in charge of the detention centre. Your advisor should also support you whilst filing a complaint.
Ill-treatment may include, for example, inappropriate sexual conduct, refusing to give you access to medical treatment, keeping you in detention while your mental health is deteriorating, “peeping in” to look at you inappropriately, or using physical forms of violence against you.
British Nationals Detained Abroad
If you are a British national in detention outside the UK, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) gives you the right in most countries to communicate with British consular officers. Consular assistance is the help provided by UK Government consular and diplomatic staff to UK nationals in difficulty overseas, often through local embassies and consulates.
If you are a British national who has been detained abroad or know someone that is detained and are concerned about their safety, then you should contact the British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible. They can provide advice on local laws and procedures, contact your family and friends, and potentially help you find a legal advisor in the relevant locality.
If you are supporting a UK national in detention abroad, you should also contact the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) immediately on (+44) (0)207 008 5000. The type of support which the FCDO can offer is set out here. Guidance on country-specific support for those in detention can be obtained here.
It is important to act quickly because those in detention are most vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment in the first 48 hours of detention, when it is often harder for the individual to contact their friends and family. Torture can take place either in detention or outside of detention (such as at a military checkpoint or during a protest).
Under UK law, UK officials have discretion as to whether to assist British nationals in trouble abroad. Usually, they will try to get in touch with you or your lawyer while you are in detention, contact you, and contact your family (if you want). If there are signs that you have been or are at risk of being tortured, UK authorities should make further representations to the authorities that are detaining you (subject to getting your consent to do so). For a list of embassies, see here
The following organisation may also be able to offer support:
|Prisoners Abroad||Protecting human rights of British citizens detained abroad.||
0808 172 0098
If you are unhappy with the support that is being or has been offered by the FCDO, you can complain to them. The process is set out here. You may also be able to obtain assistance from your local Member of Parliament (MP), who may be able to encourage the FCDO to provide support. You can find details of your MP here.
If you have been tortured or ill-treated you may not want to raise a complaint immediately, whilst you are still in detention. The FCDO may be able to raise the allegations later on, for example, after you are back in the UK.
There are various organisations that may be able to provide support relating to immigration, asylum, or detention:
|Asylum Aid||Asylum and immigration advice for stateless people and asylum seekers||
020 7354 9631
|Refugee Council||Advice on housing, education and training for people with newly granted refugee status||
|Refugee Action||Advice for refugees on housing, poverty, asylum process and community integration||
0207 952 1511
|Asylum Help||Free advice and guidance to asylum seekers across the UK||Website|
|British Red Cross||National support for refugees and survivors of trafficking across the UK||
0207 704 5670
|Asylum Support Appeals Project||Free legal advice and representation for asylum seekers||
020 3716 0283
|Medical Justice||Medical and health rights support for detainees, support for torture survivors in immigration detention||
0207 561 7498
|Bail for Immigration Detainees||Free legal advice, information and representation for detainees||
020 7456 9750
|Detention Action||Support for detainees at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres||
080 0587 2096
|Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group||Support for detainees held at Tinsley or Brook House IRC||
0800 389 4367
If you are a survivor, there are several organisations in the UK that can support you in rebuilding your life. Find out more in the pages below: