December 1, 2020

New Gender Related Task Force Unveiled at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Posted by Amanda D'Angelo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

At the end of October 2020, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) announced the establishment of the Gender Related Task Force (GRTF) at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD)[1]. The IRB has a positive history of developing guidelines and task forces in order to serve refugee claimants better and further enhance the quality of decision-making at the RPD. This can also be seen with the Chairperson’s Guideline 9: Proceedings Before the IRB Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression [2], which provides decision-makers a clear and concise guide on how to determine whether a person is a convention refugee and a person in need of protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE). The creation of the guideline was to promote a greater understanding of cases involving SOGIE and the harm individuals may face due to their non-conformity with socially accepted SOGIE norms. The creation of the GRTF will give the RPD a better understanding and awareness to deciding gender-related claims.

The GRTF will be comprised of twenty-four highly qualified and skilled decision makers. It is a dedicated team with specialized training to hear and decide gender-related refugee claims. Training for GRTF members will be conducted by leading experts on refugee and immigration law and focus on topics such as trauma-informed practice, trauma-informed decision making, questioning from a cross-cultural and trauma-informed perspective, cultural humility, assessing credibility and weighing of evidence. Having this training will ensure respectful and consistent adjudication of gender-based claims to refine the practices currently implemented at the RPD[3].

Refugee claims will be assigned to the GRTF based on refugee claim-type only; streaming will not consider the degree of complexity of a claim or average acceptance rate. It is also important to note that this will not result in priority or expedited streaming. As in a regular RPD hearing, decision-makers will determine the claim based on evidence in the form of testimony and supporting documents, the specific merits of the claim and accordance with the law.

The implementation of task forces such as the GRTF in addition with other guidelines established within the IRB are critical in the determination of each unique refugee claim.