Recommendations Made to the UNHCR
The following recommendations were made to the UNHCR's
Branch Office in Turkey to bring the Office's
status determination procedure in line with international
standards. They are based on safeguards and provisions
that are common to many other international administrative
or judicial determination processes to guarantee fairness
but are absent from the Office's procedure:
LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION
- Detailed information of the nature of the determination
mechanism--including the procedures and criteria for
determining refugee status--should be provided to every
asylum seeker in writing well in advance of the interview.
- Adequate individual legal advice and assistance should
be made available to every asylum seeker at every stage of
the proceedings. Provisions should be made to assign a
legal officer not involved in deciding cases or to engage
volunteer lawyers and trained lay persons, particularly
Farsi language speakers, to assist asylum seekers in the
preparation of their cases. Steps should be taken to make
arrangements with non-governmental organizations and
local lawyers if necessary.
- Asylum seekers should be accorded the right to have
their appointed representatives present at the interview,
during which time representatives should be free to put
questions to their clients and to make representations on
their behalf. Written submissions from
representatives/advocates should be included in an
applicant's eligibility determination.
RIGHTS IN THE INTERVIEW:
- Contemporaneous notes taken during the interview should
be read back to the asylum seeker, who should be given the
right to amend the record before signing it. A complete
transcript of each interview should be made available to
every asylum seeker and her/his representative/advocate
before a decision is made on the application.
- Interview rights should be defined and asylum seekers
should receive information about their rights in the
interview and how to object if these are violated.
- Interviews should be non-adversarial. Applicants should
receive a chance to hear apparent objections to their claim
and a chance to overcome the objections before the decision
maker and before a decision is made. If necessary, additional
interviews should be arranged before a decision is made.
- There should be proper oversight to be sure that interview
procedures are conducted in a sympathetic manner and that
questioning of the applicant has been thorough and fair. To
ensure unprejudiced decisions by examiners, the rate of
approvals of each adjudicator should be considered and open
for scrutiny. Y Interpreters should be selected based on
standardized criteria and should receive training before
assisting in interviews.
- Applicants should be free to take notes.
- In order to ensure that interviews have been thorough
and fair and that adequate interpretation has been
provided, interviews should be tape recorded. Tapes should
be available for transcription on request by the applicant
or her/his representative.
- A formal appeal procedure should be set up, whereby all
appellants, including those whose cases are assessed as
"manifestly unfounded" or "abusive of procedure" receive
adequate protection against deportation while their appeal
- A complete written statement of the reasons for negative
decision in each case, including findings of fact and law,
should be made available to all asylum seekers well in
advance of the deadline for appeal. In the least, if the
reasons are going to be given to the applicant orally, an
exclusive session should be arranged for stating these
reasons. This session should take place prior to the
deadline for an appeal.
- Files concerning asylum applications should be open to
the asylum seeker and her/his representative/advocate.
Asylum seekers should be allowed to inspect adverse
information received by the office regarding their case.
Information from any source that cannot be disclosed to
the applicant should not be accepted.
- An applicant's right to appeal must not be restricted
solely to cases involving new information. It should be
expanded to include disputes on facts. application of
criteria as well as procedural flaws.
- Because of the limitations on having to appeal to the
same body, arrangements should be made so that a final
appeal can be lodged with an independent body, for example,
with the UNHCR Headquarters.
- The role of representatives/advocates must become part of
the appeal proceedings.