The Refugee Protection Division which is the Tribunal that hears refugee claims has administratively postponed some refugee hearings as of March 17, 2020, due to COVID-19. The postponement of all hearings was subsequently extended indefinitely as of April 7, 2020.
Although hearings have been cancelled, claimants can see this as an opportunity to ensure that their file is as complete as possible.
1. Review your Basis of Claim and ensure that all important information is in the document
Claimants should review their Basis of Claim and ensure that all important events and incidents pertaining to their claim are included in the document. Failure to provide any relevant information or event or incident in the Basis of Claim can be used against a claimant at the hearing if new information is provided at the hearing that was not referred to in the Basis of Claim. Although a claimant might be able to provide an explanation it is safer for a claimant to ensure that all relevant information is in the basis of claim.
If there is information missing claimants should make the necessary changes pursuant to rule 9 of the RPD Rules. The Board has a guide that explains what are the steps to ensure that the changes that are made to the Basis of claim are accepted by the Board.
2. Ensure that documentation that can support your claim is up to date and complete
When claiming refugee protection, it is important for claimants to ensure that all important documentation that can corroborate and support their claim is provided to the Board. If a claimant is unable to provide a document, the claimant must be able to explain why he or she was unable to provide the document and explain the steps they have taken to obtain said document.
Claimants with their counsel should review the National Documentation Package of the Country of reference that they are seeking protection from or that they have some form of status in order to ensure that there isn’t any country information missing that is related to their matter. If there is information missing regarding their country of reference, they should gather additional documentation that can help their matter.
Claimants should also determine if there is any documentation that they can provide that can help their case such as police reports, medical documentation, psychological evaluations, evidence pertaining to the basis of their protection, sworn statements from friends and family, etc. It is important to note that what documents a claimant should gather varies case by case. However, in general there is a piece of evidence that can help corroborate a claim.
The Board has a guide that can assist claimants in determining what documentation to provide and how to provided them here.
Claimants should ensure that disclosures respect the procedures set out in the Rules and that they can produce the originals to the Board at their hearing or if they are unable to do so they must demonstrate that they are unable due to circumstances out of their control.
3. If you have counsel, contact them and ensure that your questions and concerns are properly addressed
Claimants should discuss their matter with their counsel to ensure that everything is in order and that nothing is missing in their file.
If they are unsure as to the procedures or if they have specific concerns, they should contact their counsel.
Although, hearings have been canceled at the RPD claimants should seize this opportunity to ensure that their case is as strong as it can be and that they are prepared for when hearings are resumed.
Please note that this is general Information and should not be construed as legal advice.