Title: The impact of procedural capital and quality counsel in the Canadian refugee determination process

Authors: Sule Tomkinson

Addresses: Political Science Department, University of Montreal, Canada

Abstract: In an era where international immigration is increasingly difficult and selective, refugee status constitutes a valuable public good that enables access and membership to the host country. Despite the independent, impartial and discretionary character of refugee decision-making at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), where an adjudicator determines refugee status following a hearing, critics blame the disparities in refugee status grant rates on the adjudicators. In particular, the disparities are attributed to unfair and inconsistent refugee determination. By examining the pre-hearing period and the refugee hearing, this article questions the attribution of responsibility in inconsistent decision-making solely to the adjudicators. Though refugee status grant rates do in fact vary, when the analytical gaze is turned to the characteristics of the refugee claimants and their counsels we notice that not all claimants have similar resources and abilities, receive equivalent legal consultation or submit case folders prepared in comparable quality.

Keywords: refugee decision making; refugee determination; procedural capital; quality of counsel; administrative tribunals; refugee hearing; credibility assessment; border control; Canada; international immigration; refugee status; adjudication; fairness; consistency; resource allocation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2014.068969

International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 2014 Vol.1 No.3, pp.276 - 290

Received: 02 Jul 2014
Accepted: 05 Dec 2014

Published online: 22 Apr 2015 *

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