Corpus delicti: the medico-legal evaluation of somatic outcomes in asylum seekers victims of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatments in the Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
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Samifo Centre, ASL Roma 1 ( Public Local Health Authority), Via Luigi Luzzatti n°8,, 00185, Rome, Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1407
Migrants applicants for refugee status in Italy are examined through detailed interviews by the Territorial Commission to decide whether the asylum seeker meets the criteria to be granted international protection. Medical reports can decisively influence the result of the application, demonstrating the vulnerability of asylum seekers and assessing the credibility of their narratives when an asylum seeker claims to be a victim of torture or other severe forms of violence in their country of origin. Our goal was to describe the cases of asylum applicants who have suffered from physical violence who were examined in our Health Centre based in Rome (SAMIFO - Forced Migrants Health Centre).

We retrospectively analysed the data from 187 asylum seekers who were examined according to the Istanbul Protocol methods in our Centre during the period between July 2021 and July 2022.

The study shows important differences among countries regarding circumstances, methods and sequel of torture. Their homeland is mainly the Sub-Saharan Africa (mostly Nigeria, Gambia and Senegal) while many others are from Middle East. Violence is often perpetrated in the country of origin and along the migratory route, mostly during detention in Libya, where they faced inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labour. Most of the wounds observed were related to blunt force injuries, followed by sharp force injuries, and thermal injuries. In the remaining cases, there were findings of explosion and chemical damage. 39 % of the subjects evaluated showed evident signs of mental distress.

This study focuses on our experience in Rome based Health Centre and concern the medico-legal evaluation of scars and lesions in asylum applicants who have declared themselves to be victims of physical violence.

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