Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Letter to a Judge


You are a nice man

That's what the interpreter said when R's appeal hearing finished the other day

He was a nice man

You probably are

Most people are nice, aren't they?

When all's said and done?

So, just for the record

This letter isn't about you being not nice

It's about other stuff

It's a question, really

About what happened after the appeal hearing

When you called R back into the room

And gave her your decision

That she was fit for work

It was a bit of a shock, to be honest

Because R's case was supposed to be one of those 'easy' appeals

An open and shut case

A no brainer

Because of how demonstrably unwell she is

And how awful and nightmarish her life has been

And because of that report from her psychologist

Which was written a few years ago

When R was claiming asylum

Which went into graphic detail

About her terrible experiences

And how they have shaped her mental state

And how she would probably never recover

By the way, this isn't a naive letter

It isn't a hysterical rhetoric

About how the law isn't fair and needs to be changed


Because the law was clearly on R's side

In more ways than one

The third-party evidence about her said so, too

But you decided it didn't, for some reason

And you're The Judge

So what you say goes

It was baffling

And disheartening

And, for R, the start of another uphill struggle

Because now she has to go and sign on

And decide what kind of job she'd 'like to do'

And fill in her forms

And look for a job

And impress people at interviews

And if she doesn't look for a job in the way that she's told to

Which she probably won't because, frankly, she's too fucked to know what day of the week it is a lot of the time

Her money will stop

So, here is the question:

If you had a daughter in her early twenties 

Who was made to watch her mother and sisters being raped and murdered

And was then taken by militia to a tiny cell

And chained up

And made to sleep on a concrete floor

And systematically raped and tortured every day for two years

And beaten to a pulp

And who then one day managed to escape

Fearing for her life

And fled to another country on the other side of the world

And who slept in a tunnel for three days after arriving

Because she didn't know where to go

And who was terrified most of the time

And whose psychological report

Said that she had a severe depressive illness

And complex post-traumatic stress disorder

With symptoms including

Frequent nightmares


Abject fear

Blinding headaches

And wanting to die

And that even if her life got markedly better

She would probably never recover from it

And who couldn't develop relationships with other people

Because she was too scared to look them in the eye

And who couldn't even function enough to notice that she needed to have a wash

And who spent most of her time sitting and staring into space

Because of the amount of horror in her head

Would you do everything you could to protect her

From the system

That you know can be very cruel indeed

And would you do everything in your power

To make sure that she got the massive rest she deserved

Or would you tell her to to go and look for a job?


  1. to be honest, she sounds like a bit of a lost cause

    1. I agree. Who is this loser?

  2. I think she needs help.
    A job? Yes, when sh'e ready.

    Interesting blog.
    Cheers, ic

  3. Judges - How do we send them back to their own planet?
    Good piece.

  4. Like the popular Chinese wisdom that says, 'Crows everywhere are black,' the Lady of justice seems to be blind everywhere.