Rape not accepted as form of torture, says new report on Yarl’s Wood

Yarls Wood Immigration Centre near Clapham. PNL-150403-111913001
Yarls Wood Immigration Centre near Clapham. PNL-150403-111913001

Traumatised rape victims held at Yarl’s Wood have been told their ordeal does NOT come under the legal definition of torture, the T&C can reveal.

A recent prison inspector’s scrutiny studied samples of Rule 35 cases, where officials are obliged to report victims of torture to the government.

They found two “concerning” cases where the Home Office had refused, without explanation, to accept that rape could be classed as torture and justify special treatment.

This indicated women were being detained “despite professional evidence of torture, rape and trafficking,” states the report, published today.

And the numbers of such Rule 35 women at Yarl’s Wood were “greater” than inspectors had seen previously.

The report states: “Inspectors were concerned by the continued detention of women who had been tortured.”

Generally inspectors found conditions for detainees, mostly women, had improved significantly in the two years since a previous highly critical report of the Bedford immigration removal centre.

Some detainees were held for too long and, during the first six months of 2017, 67 per cent of women had been released into the community.

This, stated the report, “raised questions about the justification for detention in the first place.”

Weaknesses in the handling of immigration casework by the Home Office, as well as some problems with health care at the centre, were having a “significant negative impact” on detainees, it added.

HMI Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said: “The leadership and staff could and should take much of the credit for the improvements but it was clearly a frustration for them that the centre was not able to gain higher assessments in some areas of this inspection because of failings that were outside their control.

“If I had invested the energy and commitment to making improvements at Yarl’s Wood that the current management team clearly have, I too would be frustrated.”