Documents obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) through Access to Information procedures may be of interest to advocates for refugees. The documents list the following information for all principal claimant refugee decisions in 2007:

  1.  IRB File #
  2.  Board Member
  3.  Outcome
  4.  Date of Decision
  5.  Country of Origin
  6.  Gender
  7.  Claim Type
  8.  Claim Type Details

The data can be used to calculate the refugee claim grant rates of individual IRB Members. As the tables in the links below indicate, there were sharp variations in IRB Member refugee claim grant rates in 2007. In fact, some IRB members accorded refugee status in the vast majority of the claims they decided; others denied refugee status in virtually all cases

It is important to note that average grant rates alone do not necessarily reflect varying levels of IRB Member competence or even bias. As the IRB explains in an “Explanatory Note” (see link below), variations in grant rates may be due to patterns in case assignment. In particular, some IRB Members receive a large number of expedited cases, which usually result in grants of refugee status. In addition, IRB Members may be assigned cases from geographical regions with high or low average grant rates.

Nonetheless, information regarding extreme variations in IRB Member grant rates could be of use to refugee advocates in several contexts. For example, it may provide further arguments in favour of implementing the Refugee Appeal Division of the IRB. It may also be useful in discussions about the role of political actors in the IRB appointment process.

The data may also be of interest to lawyers seeking judicial review of negative refugee determinations by IRB members with very low grant rates.

(1) IRB “Explanatory Note re: Member’s Acceptance Rates”
(2) Data in Excel Format (excel file)
(3) Table: Principal Claimant Grant Rates of IRB Members in 2007 (excel file)
(4) Table: Principal Claimant Grant Rates of IRB Members in 2007, by Country of Origin (excel file)

For further details about refugee claim grant rates see: Sean Rehaag, “Troubling Patterns in Canadian Refugee Adjudication” (forthcoming) 39:2 Ottawa Law Review.

Sean Rehaag
Assistant Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University