London (CNN)The UK government has done a U-turn on a policy that required victims of forced marriages overseas to pay back the cost of their rescue.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said victims who returned to the UK would no longer be required to take out loans from the government, which in some cases were used to pay back airfares, food and shelter, according to an investigation by British newspaper The Times.
Hunt, after promising he would investigate the newspaper's findings, wrote to the chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee and said that "after careful consideration" he had "decided that victims of forced marriage who are helped to return to the UK by the Forced Marriage Unit will no longer be asked to take out a loan for their repatriation costs."
The Foreign Secretary said British citizens who were forced into marriages abroad "constituted a category of exceptionally vulnerable people in need of specific help" and that the "treatment of vulnerable Britons abroad should always be guided by compassion."
Hunt added that victims with outstanding loans would no longer have to pay them back and that "their passports will also be unblocked."