Policy on the Treatment of Unsolicited Information in the Refugee Protection Division

Policy no. 2015-02

Effective Date: October 26, 1998
First Update: June 19, 2003
Second Update: April 20, 2016

Prepared by: Policy, Planning and Research Branch

Table of Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Application
  3. Context
  4. Definitions
  5. Policy Statement
  6. Monitoring
  7. References
  8. Enquiries
  9. Approval

1. Purpose

This policy governs the treatment and use of unsolicited information that the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) receives in respect of proceedings before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

2. Application

This policy is effective on the date that it is approved and replaces all previous versions of the Policy on the Treatment of Unsolicited Information in the Refugee Protection Division.

3. Context

From time to time, the IRB receives unsolicited information in respect of RPD proceedings. It is important that the IRB, as an independent tribunal adjudicating the merits of a claim for refugee protection, not take on an active investigative role with respect to unsolicited information received from anonymous sources or from informants who are unwilling or unable to appear as witnesses at the hearing of the claim. 

However, all relevant evidence should be made available to decision-makers of the RPD. Unsolicited information may be taken into consideration in a refugee protection hearing, provided that it can adequately be tested. This policy ensures that unsolicited information received by the IRB enters the decision-making process of the RPD only if it can adequately be tested. The RPD's use of unsolicited information, subject to this policy, is in keeping with the concept of refugee protection determination as a process of inquiry.

4. Definitions

For the purposes of this policy:

"potential evidence" means information provided orally, in writing, or in another tangible form, that may be disclosed by the RPD in accordance with the Refugee Protection Division Rules (RPD Rules). Subject to its admissibility and probative value as determined by the RPD member, the Coordinating Member or the Assistant Deputy Chairperson in the exercise of his or her discretion, this information may be used in the determination of a claim for refugee protection.

"unsolicited information" means information: 1) provided by persons not party to the proceedings before the RPD; and 2) not requested by officials of the IRB, representatives of the Minister, a claimant, or a claimant's representative. Unsolicited information may be received orally or in some tangible form such as a letter, photograph, e-mail message, or media report.

"Minister" means the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, who is responsible for The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and/or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, who is responsible for Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Both Ministers may intervene before the RPD, in practice through their delegates working at CIC or CBSA. CIC is also known as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

5. Policy Statement

The Refugee Protection Division treats unsolicited information as potential evidence when

  • the information concerns an identifiable claim that has not been finalised;
  • the information originates from an identifiable informant; and
  • the informant agrees to the disclosure of the information to all parties and to appear as a witness if subsequently requested by the RPD.

For the purpose of providing notice under the Refugee Protection Division Rules 26, 27 and 28, information relating to integrity issues or to a claimant's potential exclusion, inadmissibility, ineligibility or outstanding charge for an offence that may be punishable by a term of ten years, is not considered potential evidence unless it meets the pre-conditions noted above.

The RPD also treats unsolicited media reports, submitted anonymously or by known sources, as potential evidence, provided that

  • such reports concern an identifiable claim that has not been finalised; and
  • such reports can readily be authenticated before the hearing date.

The RPD's retention and processing of unsolicited information as potential evidence does not constitute an opinion as to its admissibility, relevance, credibility, or weight. All parties in a given case will have an opportunity to address the presiding member on these issues during the course of the proceeding.

When unsolicited information cannot be treated as potential evidence, the IRB does not retain any copy or record of such information.  Any IRB record concerning the unsolicited information is transferred to the Minister and / or the person seeking to provide such information orally is referred to the appropriate CIC or CBSA office.

CIC and the CBSA, which have an investigative capacity and mandate that the RPD does not, may choose to investigate further or to intervene in any particular case.  Should the Minister decide to intervene, the Minister may submit any information to the RPD, whether solicited or unsolicited. The Minister shall disclose such information in evidence to all parties in accordance with the RPD Rules and provisions for Minister's information in the Instructions for Gathering and Disclosing Information for Refugee Protection Division Proceedings.

6. Monitoring

Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of this policy will be carried out under the direction of the Refugee Protection Division, with the support of Regional Executive Committees and the Policy, Planning and Research Branch.

7. References

8. Enquiries

For information contact:

Director, Policy and Procedures Directorate
Policy, Planning and Research Branch
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Minto Place—Canada Building
344 Slater Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0K1

Available in English and French on the IRB's Internet site.

9. Approval

Signed by Mario Dion
April 20, 2016