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38 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 38


Refugee determinations often turn on a single question: Is the refugee claimant telling the truth? While there are other factors that refugee adjudicators must consider, determining whether the claimant's story is credible remains central to virtually all refugee hearings. In light of the key role credibility assessments play in refugee determinations, scholars are paying increasingly more attention to how refugee adjudicators assess credibility.

This article contributes to the growing body of research on this subject by examining the full caseload of one refugee adjudicator at Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) over a three-year period. That adjudicator, David McBean, denied all the applications for refugee protection he heard during the first three years of his tenure on the IRB. This article examines McBean's decision-making during this period as a case study to shed light on credibility assessments in Canada's refugee determination process. The case study draws on quantitative and qualitative data obtained from the IRB using access to information requests. While McBean is, as the study demonstrates, an outlier in terms of the frequency with which he denies refugee applications, his reasoning with regard to credibility is nonetheless instructive.

The article begins by describing the role of credibility in Canada's refugee determination process, including a discussion of existing scholarship in the area. Next, the article presents the case study, offering a quantitative and qualitative examination of McBean's refugee determinations from 2008 to 2010, with a focus on how he approaches credibility assessments. The article then considers three sets of implications of the case study and ends with a brief conclusion.