Medical Justice offers essential medical help to the most powerless in society. About 30,000 people a year are held in indeterminate immigration detention in the UK. Many detainees have suffered torture or ill treatment, have significant and chronic health problems, and a few may be pregnant, or have been detained for prolonged periods of time without any prospect of release or removal. Being detained indefinitely itself causes serious health problems. Many independent reports and legal judgements provide evidence of the inadequate healthcare provided in detention centres, especially for those with mental health problems.
Clinicians volunteering for Medical Justice document detainees’ scars of torture to assist in their asylum claims and challenge medical mistreatment of those held in detention. These cases provide the evidence for research, publications and campaigns for lasting improvements for detainees.
Medical Justice is a tiny organisation, but they are effective thanks to the courage and generosity of the volunteers, clinicians, interpreters and ex-detainees – and thanks to partnerships with colleagues in other organisations in this field.
Harris Nyatsanza, a Zimbabwean torture survivor, was detained in 2005. When he became too weak to walk during a prolonged hunger strike, Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre refused to take him to hospital. A visitor contacted an independent doctor, Frank Arnold, who intervened. Only after a High Court order was Harris released to hospital, handcuffed, on day 28 of his hunger strike.
After he recovered, he and Dr Arnold brought together a handful of ex-detainees and activists for a campaign meeting. The group called itself Medical Justice. They became a registered charity in 2009. They now have 7 members of staff and about 100 volunteer clinicians and interpreters.See more