Legal Challenges

Women, grassroots organisations and other supporters, and some determined lawyers have won resources that should be helping victims win protection. But many times the Home Office and courts fail to apply these. Our campaign is publicising four key resources that victims can use to challenge injustice win precedents that help all victims of rape and other torture secure protection.

  • Vulnerable Witnesses
    Vulnerable Witness Guidance establishes some useful principles to help victims participate more fully in their appeal hearings. WAR’s pioneering legal work with one woman in Yarl’s Wood established a key precedent which others are now using.
  • Right to Recover for Victims of Torture
    Under Article 14 of the UN Convention Against Torture, victims have the right to resources and support to recover. WAR’s work with the UN Fund for Victims of Torture helped establish that domestic violence could constitute torture. Our testimony about the horrific treatment of victims in the UK contributed to the UN decision that the obligation to support them falls on governments irrespective of where the torture took place. We are spearheading legal challenges to enforce this decision. Read here how one woman has taken on the local council to get housing.
  • Gender Issues in the Asylum Claim
    The Home Office has its own guidance on how officials should treat women’s claims but this is routinely flouted. We challenge refusals drawing attention to how victims and their accounts are disbelieved and dismissed, e.g. delay in reporting rape is still used as grounds for disbelief. We are now helping women challenge confusing Home Office decisions, insisting that they should be able to understand them.
  • Exceptional Case Funding
    Working with the Public Law Project, we helped women press the Legal Aid Agency to grant them free legal representation after the introduction of devastating legal aid cuts. Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) was meant to be in place for those too traumatised, and/or with legal cases that were too complex or significant, to go to court unrepresented. With lawyers at Duncan Lewis Solicitors and barrister Sonali Naik, one woman we worked with won ECF in recognition of her being a ‘vulnerable witness’. With a higher success rate for applicants, more lawyers now routinely apply for ECF. Without a lawyer to help her, Ms Mohammed used our self-help tool to apply for and win ECF for her family reunion appeal.