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Canadian refugee adjudicators requested ‘offensive’ and ‘insensitive’ questions: report – Nationwide

Refugee claimants have been requested hurtful and demeaning questions and disadvantaged of their proper to truthful and neutral hearings, in response to a brand new report that decided eight Canadian adjudicators violated their code of conduct over the previous two years.

The report, ready by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), consists of findings that an adjudicator was “blunt and insensitive” when questioning a feminine refugee claimant who alleged she was raped.

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“Are you positive you have been raped?” the adjudicator requested, in response to the report. “Are you aware who the daddy (or your baby) is?”

The report stated the adjudicator additionally requested the girl why she was in counselling for such a very long time after she was raped and why she noticed so many counsellors.

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The board’s report concluded that the adjudicator may have approached these questions with “better regard for sensitivity and the claimant’s dignity.”

“The third query (about psychological well being) may have been interpreted as undermining or making gentle of the claimant’s trauma,” the report stated.

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The adjudicator was not disciplined as a result of her employment on the board “got here to an finish” shortly after the investigation was accomplished, the report stated. The report doesn’t point out why the adjudicator left her job.

Previous to the adjudicator leaving the board, IRB Chairperson Richard Wex wrote her a letter that requested her to replicate on the report’s findings and the way they may assist inform her method to questioning claimants sooner or later, the report stated.

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Adjudicator ignored seizure

This isn’t the primary time allegations of wrongdoing have been made towards IRB adjudicators.

A 2018 International Information investigation revealed allegations of “sexist” and “aggressive” behaviour by two former adjudicators, together with one who demanded to see color nude photographs of a intercourse trafficking sufferer throughout a listening to.

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This investigation resulted in a parliamentary committee examine into the board’s criticism and hiring course of.

The brand new report from the IRB features a abstract of a criticism submitted in 2020 by two claimants towards an adjudicator who witnessed one of many claimants having a seizure throughout a listening to held over video convention.

The criticism alleged that the adjudicator didn’t imagine the seizure was actual and that she needed to proceed the listening to whereas the claimant awaited emergency medical therapy.

“After the feminine claimant suffered a seizure, the (adjudicator) prompt transferring ahead with the listening to,” the IRB report concluded.

“She did so as a result of she wished to conclude the listening to in a single sitting, since this may end in a faster resolution for the claimants on their refugee declare, and since effectivity is a part of an (adjudicator’s) duties.”

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The report stated the adjudicator “didn’t supply an expression of empathy or concern” for the claimant, nor did her behaviour replicate an understanding that the incident “might need impaired” the claimant’s means to proceed with the listening to.

In response to the allegations, the adjudicator submitted an announcement that stated she “apologized from the underside of [her] coronary heart.” The claimants didn’t settle for this apology.

“The (adjudicator) didn’t exhibit the diploma of respect and sensitivity that the actual circumstances known as for, and on this regard her conduct fell brief,” the report stated.

Wex thought of the adjudicator’s apology and the investigation findings and determined no disciplinary motion was wanted on this case.

IRB carried out ‘particular evaluations’

The IRB report consists of findings from two “particular evaluations” initiated by the board.

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The findings of those evaluations are anonymized and don’t present particular particulars of the adjudicator’s misconduct, The circumstances summarized within the report are, nevertheless, in line with allegations first reported by International Information that the IRB has beforehand stated it was reviewing.

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International Information requested the IRB to verify the id of the 2 adjudicators talked about within the particular overview part of its report. The board refused to take action, citing privateness laws and the IRB’s tips for making a criticism towards an adjudicator.

“This method respects the necessities of the Privateness Act whereas upholding the board’s dedication to accountability and transparency,” stated IRB spokesperson Anna Pape.

The particular evaluations — one carried out by an exterior investigator and one accomplished by the board’s director of integrity — summarized within the report discovered that the adjudicators breached the IRB’s code of conduct in each circumstances.


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One among these circumstances is in line with allegations made towards an adjudicator who repeatedly requested a feminine sufferer of intimate accomplice violence why her husband didn’t “simply kill” her if he actually needed her useless — though the report doesn’t embrace particular particulars of what the adjudicator stated or did that led to the overview.

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The report concluded that the adjudicator’s questions have been “offensive, insensitive, and inappropriate.”

“The language used successfully minimized the traumatic expertise the claimant was describing,” the report stated. “The questioning was not carried out with sensitivity and respect and had the potential to create a traumatizing and anxiety-producing impact.”

The investigation additionally concluded {that a} remark the adjudicator made a few psychological well being situation was “pointless and disrespectful” as a result of it made gentle of the claimant’s psychological well being.

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The adjudicator on this case was prohibited from deciding claims whereas the investigation was underway. He was then required to finish skilled growth coaching and assigned a mentor to watch his progress.

Wex determined no disciplinary motion was obligatory as a result of he stated the adjudicator expressed “honest remorse and regret.” The adjudicator additionally acknowledged the impact his conduct had on the claimant and the IRB’s fame, the report stated.


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The opposite particular overview is in line with allegations towards a former adjudicator reported by International Information who requested a feminine refugee claimant throughout a listening to why she determined to maintain a baby conceived by rape.

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The adjudicator within the case wrote in her resolution that if the rape actually did occur, she would have anticipated the claimant to report it.

“(I’m) delicate to the topic of rape, however the claimant’s clarification doesn’t make sense as to why she would maintain a baby who would remind her of being raped, except that’s not the case,” the adjudicator wrote in her April 2019 resolution.

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The IRB report into the conduct of the adjudicator topic to the particular overview concluded that the habits was “extremely problematic.” The particular overview abstract didn’t comprise particular particulars of what the adjudicator stated or did that led to the overview.

The particular overview abstract stated that the adjudicator’s questioning of the claimant represented a “private view and prejudice,” and that it lacked understanding of the claimant’s circumstances.

“There was a failure on the a part of the (adjudicator) to method the questioning with the acute sensitivity and compassion which is required when asking questions on sexual assault,” the report stated.

The adjudicator retired from the IRB earlier than the investigation was accomplished and selected to not take part, the report stated. No disciplinary motion was taken.

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Conduct was ‘egregious’

Sharry Aiken, an immigration legislation professor at Queen’s College, stated the findings within the IRB report are disturbing.

She stated these circumstances, particularly the particular overview part of the report, are “egregious” examples of adjudicators violating the principles.

Whereas Aiken believes it’s essential to acknowledge that almost all IRB adjudicators do a wonderful job, these circumstances make it clear that’s not at all times true.


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Breaches of the code of conduct aren’t so simple as an peculiar worker making a mistake, Aiken stated. These are adjudicators with super energy who make selections that decide a refugee’s destiny.

Misconduct of any type opens the door to selections being made in error, she stated. That is very true when that misconduct includes prejudice, myths and stereotypes.

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“It’s the administration of justice that’s on trial when decision-makers breach the code of conduct,” Aiken stated. “It’s very critical when it comes to the general public’s means to trust within the equity and partiality of our authorized system writ massive.”

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The IRB insists that the overwhelming majority of adjudicators conduct themselves professionally and make truthful selections. The board additionally says it takes allegations of wrongdoing significantly.

The report mentions a number of initiatives the board has revamped the previous two years to enhance the standard of decision-making for feminine refugee claimants, together with making a activity drive with specialised coaching in gender-based violence and updating the IRB’s gender tips for the primary time since 1996.

The report does, nevertheless, acknowledge that it’ll take time for the advantages of those packages to be realized.

The board additionally enhanced its coaching necessities for brand spanking new adjudicators and has made refresher coaching for present adjudicators on the IRB’s gender tips necessary.

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Alex Cohen, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, stated everybody in Canada deserves to be handled with equity, respect and dignity. He stated it’s particularly essential to be delicate to the trauma skilled by those that got here to Canada to flee battle and persecution.

“We’ve been clear that the conduct in these circumstances from the final report is completely unacceptable,” Cohen stated. “These circumstances have been independently investigated, applicable motion was taken by the IRB, and sure members are now not with the board. Whereas now we have made vital enhancements to the asylum system, we proceed to work arduous to make sure it’s equitable and accessible for everybody in Canada.”

Cohen additionally reiterated the board’s declare that almost all adjudicators conduct themselves professionally.

“These outcomes underscore that the overwhelming majority of IRB members commonly perform their work with professionalism, in line with the excessive requirements of conduct established within the code of conduct,” he stated.

Deepa Mattoo, a lawyer who focuses on gender-based violence and the chief director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic in Toronto, stated it’s completely inadequate to say most or practically all adjudicators are truthful and do their jobs effectively.

The circumstances summarized within the IRB report are “heartbreaking,” she stated.

Whereas it’s nice that the board has applied new initiatives to enhance decision-making, she stated extra have to be accomplished to forestall this type of conduct from occurring sooner or later.

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“It’s not adequate that almost all are good,” Mattoo stated. “It ought to be 100 per cent.”




© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.



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