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Conduct of RSD interviews

UNHCR’s Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate

Quick reference guide

The following is a RSDWatch summary and analysis of UNHCR’s Procedural Standards for Refugee Status Determination under UNHCR’s Mandate, published by UNHCR in September 2005.  All references (i.e. section x.x) are to these Standards, unless otherwise noted.

Conduct of RSD interviews

UNHCR policy calls on its RSD staff to use open-ended questions in interviewing asylum-seekers, and to avoid interrupting them unnecessarily (section 4.3.6).  Interviewers should provide applicants an opportunity to clarify or explain any gap or inconsistency during the interview; if an applicant is not allowed to explain a gap in his or her testimony it cannot be used later to reach a negative credibility decision (section 4.3.6).

UNHCR staff are required to maintain a “detailed transcript” of RSD interviews, including the questions asked and answers given, the time of beginning and ending, as well as observations of the applicant’s demeanor (section 4.3.8). At the end of the interview, UNHCR staff should “read back elements of the RSD Interview transcript that are most relevant to the determination of the claim” (section 4.3.11).

Applicants are permitted to bring witnesses who can give evidence supporting their applications (section 4.3.9).  However, UNHCR policy does not permit applicants to be present when witnesses are interviewed (see access to evidence and withholding of evidence).

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