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Elements of an Inland Refugee Claim

At their hearing before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), claimants will have the burden of establishing that they are refugees as defined in the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This means that it is their responsibility to produce sufficient evidence to support every aspect of their refugee claim.

Claimants are only required to show that there is more than a mere possibility of persecution in their country of nationality or habitual residence. That said, however, the facts alleged must be established on a balance of probabilities “or that it is more likely than not that the events have taken place” which is a higher burden of proof than “a mere possibility”.

To be recognized as Convention refugees by the RPD, claimants must provide sufficient evidence to prove the following elements:

  1. their identity and nationality;
  2. a link to one or several of the recognized grounds of persecution: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (i.e. sexual orientation);
  3. the alleged acts of persecution;
  4. the agent(s) of persecution (i.e. the State itself or a non-State actor);
  5. the inability or unwillingness of the State to provide protection;
  6. a subjective fear of persecution;
  7. an objective basis for that fear of persecution; and
  8. the inability to relocate elsewhere in the country of nationality or habitual residence.

In evaluating the different elements of a refugee claim, the RPD can take into account any evidence that it finds credible or trustworthy. The starting point is usually a claimant’s testimony before the RPD. The board member (i.e. the decision-maker) hearing the claim will assess the claimant’s credibility and demeanor, as well as the plausibility of the alleged events. The board member will also look for any inconsistencies or contradictions in the claimant’s testimony.

Claimants are highly encouraged to produce documentary evidence to support their claim. Documentary evidence can include, among others, news articles, reports on country conditions, academic articles, and printouts of relevant websites. Another important source of information is the IRB’s national documentation packages, which can be found here.

Coming soon: A more in-depth review of the above-mentioned elements of an inland refugee claim, as well as an overview of what to expect at a refugee hearing.

Disclaimer: The materials in our blogs and on our website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice, and is not to be acted on as such. You should always consult with a lawyer for independent legal advice. For assistance, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.


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