A review of psycho-legal issues in credibility assessments of asylum claims based on religion

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Abstract

Religious persecution is a leading cause of global displacement. In the absence of supporting evidence, presenting a credible oral asylum claim based on religion is a difficult task for asylum-seekers. Asylum officials, in turn, face considerable challenges in evaluating the credibility of asylum-seekers’ claims to determine their eligibility for refugee status. We reviewed 21 original manuscripts addressing credibility assessments of asylum claims based on religion. We focused on (1) officials’ methods of eliciting a religious claim in the asylum interview; (2) their credibility assessments of particularly complex asylum claims, namely those based on religious conversion, unfamiliar religions, and absence of religion; and (3) issues related to the presence of an interpreter. We found deviations in officials’ assessment patterns from established knowledge in both legal psychology and the scientific study of religion. Closer collaboration between asylum practitioners and researchers in these fields is needed to improve the validity and reliability of credibility assessments of asylum claims based on religion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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