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Part IV Access to Protection and International Responsibility-Sharing, Ch.33 Credibility, Reliability, and Evidential Assessment

Gregor Noll

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law

Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 21 April 2024

Asylum — Non-refoulement

This chapter explores credibility, reliability, and evidential assessment in the asylum procedure. Credibility assessment in asylum appears to be constrained by a conceptual framework, as are other fields of law. Refugee law offers a particular constellation of the burden of proof, the standard of proof, and the benefit of the doubt. However, there are serious logical deficiencies in the way that these three concepts interact in asylum, with the result that they are unable to restrain discretion and regulate decision-making. If one looks beyond these legal concepts and rules in search of restraint in proxies for credibility, scientific studies in psychology and traumatology suggest that standard credibility criteria, such as behaviour or the coherence and plausibility of statements, are also deficient. These studies in effect undermine the validity of the standard criteria used in the UNHCR Handbook and the EU Qualification Directive. Without functioning legal constraints and valid credibility criteria, the discretion of decision-makers occupies too much space. Empirical studies confirm that the allocation of a case to an individual judge is the weightiest factor in dictating the outcome of an asylum case, leading to the conclusion that evidential assessment actually plays a minor role, suggesting that evidential assessment in asylum law is deeply dysfunctional.

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