To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the treatment of rape victims in immigration appeal hearings; what guidelines are in place for immigration judges in considering such claims; if he will commission research into this matter; and if he will make a statement.
I have been asked to reply.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has considered the recent report 'Misjudging Rape: Breaching Gender Guidelines and International Law in Asylum Appeals' published by the Black Women's Rape Action Project (BWRAP) and Women Against Rape. Additionally, it has recently received representations on similar issues from stakeholders groups such as Asylum Aid and the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture.
The BWRAP report recommended that the Asylum Gender Guidelines (2000) be applied by immigration judges in all asylum appeals where rape is cited in the grounds of appeal. The guidelines never had binding authority on the tribunal and are out of date in respect of current law. The guidelines are framed very much as a statement of what the law is on particular aspects of a refugee claim. It is not the role of the tribunal to make statements on the law, save through its jurisprudence.
Immigration judges are independent members of the judiciary who determine cases on the evidence that is placed before them. Judicial training is facilitated by senior and experienced members of the judiciary. All immigration judges receive training in diversity and refugee law and are encouraged to keep up to date with legal developments both in the UK and nationally. All judiciary have access to the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) Equal Treatment Benchbook as well as country guidance determinations, Home Office country reports and wider information, and case law of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and higher courts.
There are currently no plans for the DCA to commission research into this area. It is not for the AIT, as an independent tribunal, to commission objective research into such issues.