A Tale of Three Refugees

June 2014

Between November 2013 and March 2014, I represented three refugee claimants before the Refugee Protection Division.

All three were women.  All three were from Nigeria.  All three were mothers.  All were devout Christians.  They were all around the same age.


Refugee #1 feared that her husband’s family would genitally mutilate her two daughters against the wishes of her and her husband. 

Refugee #2 feared that her family would genitally mutilate her daughter against the wishes of her and her husband.  She also feared individuals from an organized crime group.

Refugee #3 feared individuals from an organized crime group.

The claims of Refugee’s #1 and #2 were denied.  I just got the decision for Refugee #3 – her claim was accepted.

So why claims 1 and 2 were denied when claim 3 was accepted? 

It could have been that the same Board Member decided claims 1 and 2, but a different Board Member decided claim 3.

A report that studied refugee determination statistics for 2013 showed a great deal of variation between the decisions of Board Members.  One Board Member had a 0% acceptance rate in the 23 cases she heard.  Another Board Member had the highest rate of acceptance, 89.4% of 85 cases were accepted. 

For my clients, the Board Member for Refugees #1 and #2 had an overall acceptance rate of 20% in 2013, but the 5 Nigerian cases she heard in 2013 were all decided negatively.  The Board Member for Refugee #3 had an acceptance rate of 17.8% in 2013, with no cases coming from Nigeria. 

From those statistics, it doesn’t seem like Refugee #3 got the luck of the draw.  Perhaps the Board Member was in an accepting mood that day?

Every refugee I’ve represented convinced me that their lives would be at risk if they returned to their country.  Whether or not they get to stay in Canada shouldn’t be determined by who hears their claim.  

You can read the full report here: