Refugee Status Determination in Canada and the Path to Radical Reform

113 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2013

Date Written: June 25, 2013


This thesis presents a comprehensive structural and ideological reform proposal for refugee status determination in Canada designed to advance the interests of stakeholders. We propose an alternative model for refugee determination, new approaches to fact finding and credibility assessment in the asylum context, and a shift in systemic values. The alternative refugee status determination model proposed envisions moving from a quasi-judicial initial determination body to either a wholly-judicial one, similar to the Tax Court of Canada or a para-judicial/interdisciplinary one, similar to the Tribunal administratif du Qu├ębec. New approaches to fact finding and credibility assessment have centered on the notion that truth in the asylum context is relative, not fixed, and that dialogue and unfettered refugee speech should be privileged as much as possible in the hearing room. The new systemic values advanced have been accuracy (achieved through undistorted reception of information and dissemination of high quality contextual information), efficiency (achieved through simplicity, economy and timeliness being built into adjudicative structures) and juridical sensitivity to context (achieved through appropriate selection criteria, context-specific interdisciplinary training, and the fostering of a juristic culture around asylum decision making). The proposals find their inspiration in empirical data, interdisciplinary academic thought and previous reform initiatives, and are designed to conform to the challenges inherent in refugee status determination.

Keywords: refugee status determination, asylum, procedures

Suggested Citation

Zambelli, Pia, Refugee Status Determination in Canada and the Path to Radical Reform (June 25, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Pia Zambelli (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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