The following note and the accompanying data are provided by Sean Rehaag, Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School.
8 May 2015
Data obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) through an Access to Information Request reveals vast disparities in refugee claim recognition rates across decision-makers in 2014.
This is consistent with similar findings from previous years for Canada’s previous and new refugee determination systems. Refugee claims referred to the IRB after 15 December 2012 are subject to the new system, whereas claims referred to the IRB prior to that date are legacy cases that are decided under the old system. Legacy and new system cases are not only decided under different rules, but are also decided by different cohorts of decision-makers. Because of these important differences, the data on RPD decision-making for 2014 is separated into legacy cases and new system cases.
In 2014, some decision-makers rarely granted refugee status, including, for legacy cases, E. Robinson (3.1%, 65 decisions) and D. McBean (4.8%, 21 decisions), and, in the new system, T. Maziarz (28.3%, 53 decisions) and B. Lloyd (39.7%, 64 decisions). Others granted refugee status in most of the cases they heard, including for legacy cases B. Barnes (76.6%, 77 decisions) and K. Fainbloom (70.7%, 75 decisions) and in the new system N. Stanwick (92.1%, 38 decisions) and R. Tiwari (88.9%, 117 decisions).
Some of the recognition rate variation may be due to specialization in particular types of cases. For example, some decision-makers specialize in geographic regions with especially high or low refugee claim recognition rates. For further possible explanations for variations in recognition rates, please see an IRB explanatory note, which was provided with a response to an earlier Access to Information Request: ccrweb.ca/sites/ccrweb.ca/files/7.irb_explanatory_note-2012.pdf.
Although some of the recognition rate variation can be explained by factors related to specialization, the tables below suggest that country of origin specialization alone fails to fully account for the variations. The tables show that there is substantial variance for some decision-makers between the recognition rates that would be predicted based on the average recognition rates for the countries of origins in the cases they decided, and their actual recognition rates. For instance, in legacy cases, E. Robinson (predicted: 36.8%; actual: 3.1%) and R. Andrachuk (predicted: 41.8%; actual: 15.0%) had much lower recognition rates than predicted, whereas B. Barnes (predicted 46.5%; actual: 76.6%) and D. Lowe (predicted 40.3%; actual: 68.8%) had much higher recognition rates than predicted. Similarly, in the new system, T. Maziarz (predicted: 52.7%; actual 28.3%) and C. Wittenberg (predicted 60.2%; actual 37.0%) had much lower recognition rates than predicted, whereas N. Stanwick (predicted 58.4%, actual: 92.1%) and R. Tiwari (predicted 56.8%; actual: 88.9%) had much higher recognition rates than predicted.
This year’s data also highlights divergent rates at which decision-makers declare claims to have no credible basis. For example, 5 decision-makers who were collectively responsible for 10.4% of legacy system decisions in 2014 made 43.7% of the legacy system no credible basis declarations the same year. These 5 decision-makers were also much more likely to declare claims to have no credible basis than would be expected based on country of origin averages. Consider, for example, E. Robinson (predicted: 7.4%; actual: 30.8%) and P. Fiorino (predicted 8.9%; actual 22.7%). Similar points can be made about new system cases, with 3 decision-makers making 41.6% of the no credible basis declarations despite only deciding 4.0% of the cases under the new system in 2014. These 3 decision-makers were also much more likely to make such declarations than would be expected based on country of origin averages: N. Cassano (predicted: 5.1%; actual: 51.4%), H. Cukavac (predicted: 3.5%; actual 28.0%) and K. Boothroyd (predicted: 3.9%; actual: 21.4%). This is a matter of some concern given that no credible basis declarations limit the procedural rights available to unsuccessful refugee claimants. For example, such declarations prevent claimants from accessing the Refugee Appeal Division, and make claimants vulnerable to deportation while judicial review of their refugee determinations are pending before the Federal Court.
For a discussion of the methodology used to obtain the data and to calculate the statistics, as well as an analysis of the implications of similar data for a previous year, see Sean Rehaag, “Troubling Patterns in Canadian Refugee Adjudication” (2008) 39 Ottawa Law Review 335. This article is available via links here: http://ssrn.com/author=404046.
Tables and Data for Legacy Cases:
1.1. Summary of Outcomes
1.2. Outcomes by Country
Tables and Data for New System Cases:
2.1. Summary of Outcomes
2.2. Outcomes by Country
To be cited as: Sean Rehaag, “2014 Refugee Claim Data and IRB Member Recognition Rates” (8 May 2015), online: ccrweb.ca/en/2014-refugee-claim-data.
- The data was obtained through Access to Information Request A-2014-04109. I thank the IRB, and in particular Eric Villemaire, Director ATIP, and Sean Boileau, ATIP Officer, for their assistance.
- Tables 1.2 and 2.2 include only cases resulting in positive or negative (including NCB) decisions, or where applications were withdrawn or declared abandoned, excluding cases otherwise decided. Tables 1.3-1.5 and 2.3-2.5 include only cases resulting in positive or negative (including NCB) decisions (i.e. only cases decided on the merits), excluding all other cases.
- Statistics (including recognition rates) for this year include only principal applicant claims (i.e. excluding associated claims by family members of principal applicants). However, for interested researchers, the data files include lists of associated claims (if any) for each principal applicant claim.
- A small number of cases were decided by panels of Board Members. Only the first listed Board Member is included in the statistics, however all three Board Members are listed in the data files.
- Country of origin averages, predicted recognition rates and predicted no credible basis rates are calculated separately for legacy cases and new system cases.
- The data refers to “recognition rates”. The term “recognition rate” is used to mean the proportion, expressed as a percentage, of positive decisions relative to the total number of positive and negative (including NCB) decisions, excluding cases that are abandoned, withdrawn or otherwise resolved. This is the standard practice for reporting outcomes by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (http://www.unhcr.org/statistics), and it is the way that both “recognition rates” and “grant rates” were reported for data obtained for prior years (see links below).
- The data refers to “NCB Rates”. This term is used to mean the proportion, expressed as a percentage, of decisions resulting in a no credible basis declaration relative to the total number of positive and negative (including NCB) decisions, excluding cases that are abandoned, withdrawn or otherwise resolved.
Osgoode Hall Law School