Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors have authority to assess injuries from alleged torture, says Supreme Court

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 12 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1121
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Doctors providing medical reports on asylum seekers who claim they were tortured are entitled to reach conclusions on how consistent the injuries are with the person’s account of what happened, the UK Supreme Court has ruled.1

Such evidence can be of “significant potential value” to decision makers in their “supremely difficult and important task,” the justices added, and is consistent with the Istanbul Protocol, the international agreement on the investigation of torture.

Giving authoritative guidance on the correct approach to medical evidence in asylum claims, the UK’s highest court corrected “controversial” observations by the Court of Appeal accusing a doctor of straying beyond the limit of his role.

The five justices were considering the case of KV, who …

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