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Report says EU countries are failing migrant victims of torture and trauma

Date of Publication: 
2 March 2017

Agency for Fundamental Rights examines how victims of torture and trauma are handled by national authorities

Report says EU countries are failing migrant victims of torture and trauma

02 March 2017

The European Union's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released a report last week which says many EU countries are failing the migrant victims of torture and trauma by not having systems in place to recognise the ordeals they have suffered and support them on arrival.

The 24-page report Current migration situation in the EU: Torture, trauma and its possible impact on drug use can be read here.

It looks at the situation in 14 EU Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

The report examines how victims of torture and trauma are being handled by national authorities to highlight how Member States can best offer them the protection they are entitled to.

FRA says, however, that despite the lack of attention to torture and trauma victims, the report also identifies promising practices that other Member States could adopt to identify and support victims.

The main findings of the report are as follows:

• Limited data are available on victims of torture among applicants for international protection, with Greece the only EU Member State to regularly collect this information. Similarly, data on traumatised applicants are sketchy and information on suicide attempts incomplete.

• Findings point to limited formal screening procedures to identify asylum seekers who are victims of torture or experienced severe trauma. Identification heavily relies on the expertise and knowledge of individual staff. Tools are increasingly being developed to facilitate identification by non-experts.

• In most EU Member States, there is no evidence that would suggest recurrent violence or excessive use of force by state officials or entities working on their behalf. Information collected by FRA mostly focuses on individual and localised incidents. At the same time, serious incidents are more frequently reported along the external borders of the Schengen area.

• Training, monitoring bodies and complaint mechanisms exist in all EU Member States, but their effectiveness in preventing ill-treatment varies from one Member State to another.

• A recurrent issue restraining victims' access to support services is the limited number of specialised medical staff who can provide psychological or psychiatric support. The lack of staff often leads to long waiting periods. Starting therapy when asylum applicants are homeless or the conditions in a reception facility are not adequate to sustain the therapy poses another challenge.

• Limited information on the link between trauma and drug use has emerged. Drug use among asylum applicants particularly affects adolescents and young men, and has so far been given little attention.