Decision-Making Conditioned by Radical Uncertainty: Credibility Assessment at the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal
This paper has been subsequently been published in the International Journal of Refugee Law (2013) 25: 502-534
32 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2013 Last revised: 17 Dec 2013
Date Written: May 1, 2012
The increasing global magnitude and exigency of refugee status determination is resulting in recent attention to the parameters of credibility as part of evidentiary assessment in refugee law. In Australia, as in other countries, it is well recognised that applications for review of primary level decisions on refugee status commonly fail on the basis of credibility evidence. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the assessment of credibility is likely to be a source of error in decision making. In this paper, I report on the results of a small-scale study into decision-making and credibility assessment at the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal involving interviews with decision-makers. Drawing on feminist theories of epistemic responsibility, I argue for a revised standard of proof, suggesting a rebuttable presumption of credibility, or truthfulness, on the part of the applicant seeking asylum. Such an approach may go some way towards addressing the potential for epistemic injustice and is consistent with a position of epistemological responsibility demanded by an ethical obligation to the refugee.
Keywords: asylum seekers, credibility assessment, Refugee Review Tribunal, feminist epistemology, Australia
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