Anthropology and Expertise in the Asylum Courts

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-12-13
  • Publisher: Cavendish Pub Ltd

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Although asylum has generated unparalleled levels of public and political concern over the past decade, there has been astonishingly little field research on the topic. This is a study of the legal process of claiming asylum from an anthropological perspective, focusing on the role of expert evidence from 'country experts' such as anthropologists. It describes how such evidence is used in assessments of asylum claims by the Home Office and by adjudicators and tribunals hearing asylum appeals. It compares uses of social scientific and medical evidence in legal decision-making and analyses anthropologically the legal uses of key concepts from the 1951 Refugee Convention, such as 'race', 'religion', and 'social group'. Evidence is drawn from field observation of more than 300 appeal hearings in London and Glasgow; from reported case law; and from interviews with immigration adjudicators, tribunal chairs, barristers and solicitors, as well as expert witnesses.

Author Biography

Anthony Good is Professor of Social Anthropology in Practice at Edinburgh University

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Abbreviationsp. xiii
Table of casesp. xv
Table of statutesp. xxiii
Table of statutory instrumentsp. xxv
Prologue: Tales of persecutionp. 1
Asylum as a social and political problemp. 5
The emergence of the refugeep. 5
The scale of the 'problem'p. 7
Background to the researchp. 10
Anthropologists and lawyersp. 15
The fall and rise of the anthropology of lawp. 15
Legal and anthropological discoursesp. 25
Anthropology in the courtsp. 34
Studying asylump. 39
Previous studies of asylum processesp. 39
Research methodsp. 42
Convention refugees: an anthropological approachp. 47
The Refugee Convention in the European Unionp. 47
UK interpretations of the 1951 Conventionp. 50
'Well-founded fear'p. 51
'Of being persecuted'p. 54
'For reasons of race'p. 63
'Religion'p. 66
'Nationality'p. 73
'Membership of a particular social group'p. 74
'Political opinion'p. 84
'Outside the country of his nationality'p. 87
'Unable [or] unwilling'p. 87
Gender and sexualityp. 91
UNHCR and IND: an overviewp. 96
Claiming asylump. 99
Processing and assessing applicationsp. 99
Appeal hearingsp. 105
The hearing processp. 109
Certificationp. 117
Tribunal hearingsp. 119
Outcomesp. 122
Expert evidencep. 129
'Objective evidence'p. 129
A brief history of expert witnessesp. 131
The duties of expert witnessesp. 136
Reliability and admissibility of expert evidencep. 140
Instructing 'country experts'p. 146
Expert reportsp. 148
Interpretationp. 153
Interpreters in the asylum processp. 153
Interpretation problemsp. 157
The impact of interpreters on asylum hearingsp. 166
Cultural (mis)translationp. 170
Translation and performancep. 182
Assessing credibilityp. 187
Principles of credibility assessmentp. 187
Telling their storiesp. 190
Judicial assessments of credibilityp. 194
Country experts and credibility assessmentsp. 198
Medical experts and credibilityp. 203
Experts and judicial hegemonyp. 208
Weighing expert evidencep. 211
The notion of evidential weightp. 211
Home Office Country Assessmentsp. 212
Weighing expert evidencep. 216
Bias and objectivityp. 222
Oral expert evidencep. 226
Multiple experts: the Karanakaran appealp. 229
Tribunals as expertsp. 233
Judicial pragmatismp. 237
Reaching decisionsp. 239
Judicial reasoningp. 239
The standard and burden of proofp. 240
The 'chemistry of unanimity'p. 243
Risk assessment in asylum decision makingp. 245
Determinations and decisionsp. 248
Risk, authority and expertisep. 253
The social construction of riskp. 253
The complicity of the expertp. 257
One-way tickets v. The Sword of Damoclesp. 261
Postscriptp. 267
Bibliographyp. 271
Indexp. 287
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