ReportsMike Phipps

Increasing government indifference to torture

ReportsMike Phipps
Increasing government indifference to torture

There have been no successful prosecutions for torture in the UK in the last five years, despite the country’s worsening record, according to a new report by Redress, Liberty and over seventy other NGOs and civil society organisations.

The Foreword states, “The courts have recently upheld Special Mission Immunity, a 'get out of jail free' card for war crimes suspects travelling to the UK, which will make prosecutions even less likely. As the UK seeks to do post-Brexit trade deals with countries with poor human rights records, there is a risk that such arrangements will become more frequent.”

In 2015, the Foreign Office abandoned its Strategy for the Prevention of Torture. But other departments are also complicit in downgrading the crime. The Hostile Environment against migrants has adversely affected the ability of survivors of torture in Britain to access healthcare. More often than not, asylum caseworkers substitute their own opinion for that of a trained clinician on the cause of injuries, or simply dismiss the medical evidence entirely.

Government is also failing to keep prisoners and detainees safe, with staff cuts fuelling a rise in prison violence. Police use of tasers rose 43% over five years and they are three times more likely to be used against black men and women. There is also growing evidence of police use of force – including tasers - against children, again especially those from BAME backgrounds.

This comprehensive report makes shocking reading. Few studies have so effectively revealed the callousness and indifference of government in the face of such abuses.

The UK's Implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Civil society alternative report is available at https://redress.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/UK-Implementation-of-UNCAT_REDRESS_March2019_Web.pdf