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'I Simply Do Not Believe': A Case Study of Credibility Determinations in Canadian Refugee Adjudication

38 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 28

33 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017 Last revised: 8 Jul 2017

Sean Rehaag

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: July 5, 2017

Abstract

This article examines credibility determinations in Canadian refugee adjudication through a case study of decision-making by a refugee adjudicator who denied every single refugee claim he heard over a three-year period. The case study uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, drawing on data and documents obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board through Access to Information Requests. The quantitative part of the study finds that the decision-maker was much more likely than his colleagues to deny claims from similar countries, and that the most likely reason for this is because he applies different tests and standards than other adjudicators. The qualitative part of the study finds that the decision-maker regularly denied claims on the basis of credibility. Essentially, the decision-maker simply did not believe refugee claimants. The article considers various implications of the case study, including implications for courts that are asked to overturn refugee decisions based on reasonable apprehension of bias, implications for legislators and policy makers in terms of how adjudicative institutions should be designed to minimize the “luck of the draw”, and implications for adjudicators seeking to improve their own decision-making.

In addition to being of interest to refugee lawyers, judges, refugee adjudicators and policy makers, the article will also be interesting for scholars from various disciplinary standpoints. This includes immigration and refugee law scholars, administrative law scholars, legal process scholars, and others interested in bias and consistency in adjudication. The research also contributes to a growing body of empirical legal research on refugee adjudication around the world and will thus attract readers outside of Canada.

Keywords: Refugee, Credibility, Empirical, Canada, Administrative Law, Bias

Suggested Citation

Rehaag, Sean, 'I Simply Do Not Believe': A Case Study of Credibility Determinations in Canadian Refugee Adjudication (July 5, 2017). 38 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2997648

Sean Rehaag (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/faculty-and-staff/rehaag-sean/

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