Monday, 5 November 2012

Did the Refugee Protection Division Confuse Two Files?

Pierre c. Canada (Citoyenneté et Immigration), 2012 CF 1249 is one of the strangest cases I have ever seen. A series of bizarre factual errors motivated de Montigny J. to strike the decision down, because it was possible that the Refugee Protection Division had confused two different files.

The RPD noted in its decision that the wife of the principal applicant was 38 years old, had three sisters (aged 50, 48 and 40), held a law degree, lived in Aquin before moving to Port-au-Prince, and had never complained that a member of her family had been persecuted.

These "facts" were false:
[39]           Par contre, il s’avère que la demanderesse est née le 2 avril 1978 et qu’elle n’avait donc que 33 ans lors de l’audition. De plus, elle n’a pas de sœurs et n’a jamais suivi des cours de droit ou obtenu un diplôme en droit. Enfin, sa mère a toujours résidé à Port-au-Prince.
The applicants' representative suggested that the RPD had mixed up the applicant with a previous client. de Montigny J. was kind enough not to reach a firm conclusion, holding merely that the errors vitiated the decision:
[40]           Le procureur des demandeurs a soutenu que le Tribunal avait confondu le présent dossier avec un autre dossier qu’il avait plaidé devant la même commissaire quelques mois plus tôt. Quelle que soit l’origine des erreurs factuelles relevées plus haut, elles sont évidentes et importantes et doivent manifestement entraîner l’annulation de la décision au moins en ce qui concerne la revendication de madame, comme l’a d’ailleurs concédé la procureure du défendeur.
The errors also contaminated the decision as to the credibility of the principal applicant: it was highly unlikely that the decision-maker had only confused one of the two applicants (para. 41); and in any event, the credibility assessment was a global one, such that any errors as to one would vitiate both (paras. 42-43).

The allegation is profoundly troubling and should cause serious reflection. To mix up two different files is an error of the utmost gravity, which calls into question the integrity of the RPD's decision-making process.

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