Friday, July 26, 2013

UNHCR REPORT ON EU ASYLUM SYSTEMS

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have recently published a report entitled "Beyond Proof, Credibility Assessment in EU Asylum Systems “ on the role of the credibility assessment in determining refugee status. The report focuses on the use of credibility within the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and is another step towards the UNHCR’s goal of producing updated guidelines on the assessment of credibility of asylum claims.

The CEAS is designed to ensure that an applicant would, in principle, receive the same decision on his or her asylum application regardless of which EU Member State they made their application in. However because the credibility assessment is so often a key factor in determining refugee status, similar cases in different Member States often have different outcomes because the method of assessing credibility differs. For example certain decision makers in one member state may have more discretion or employ a different approach when assessing an applicant’s credibility. 

The UNHCR noted that there is a clear trend in the EU where negative decisions on asylum applications are made on credibility grounds without applying the relevant Qualification and Asylum Procedures Directive. It also noted that there was no common understanding and approach within the CEAS regarding the assessment of credibility and that there was therefore a pressing need for comprehensive and up-to-date guidance for decision makers on how to correctly assess an applicant’s credibility. 

This report does not constitute this guidance it merely seeks to identify and clarify key concepts surrounding credibility and to inform discussion and debate. However it does provide some guidance for decision makers in the form of checklists and flowcharts designed to illustrate how to take into account the various relevant factors (such as education, fear and the impact of trauma) when making a credibility assessment. These checklists emphasise the various duties and obligations of both decision maker and applicant during the course of the asylum application process. In its conclusions the report calls for a more consistent, transparent and principled approach to credibility assessments, based in law and on good practice. It notes the disparity between policy and practice in credibility assessments in member states and calls for enhanced training on credibility for decision makers in order to combat this and to achieve a consistent approach to credibility assessments throughout the CEAS.


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