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A Libyan reminder of what’s at stake in RSD

January 20, 2013

A remarkable report from Canada that should be a warning to everyone involved in RSD anywhere in the world:

In 2003, Canadian adjudicators rejected Adel Benhmuda’s asylum claim because they thought he was not credible. He had claimed that he was in danger of torture in Libya. And, in fact, when Canada deported him and his family in 2008, he was tortured by the Qaddafi regime. After 18 months, the family escaped to Malta. Now, Canadian officials have agreed to let him return.

While advocates often worry that genuine refugees are errantly rejected in RSD, it’s rare to be able prove it as clearly as in this case. Meanwhile, many decision-makers express confidence that they know when cases are weak, and that their credibility decisions are reliable.

In this case, one of the strongest RSD systems in the world denied protection to a man who said he would be persecuted, deported him, and he was indeed tortured. Canada deserves some credit for letting the family come back. But one has to wonder if there should also be some negative consequences for the officials who failed to believe him in the first place.

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