Special Review No. 002

Special reviews may be conducted where serious allegations are made about a member’s conduct outside of the complaints process. 

The Chairperson initiated a special review into the conduct of an RPD member after serious allegations of misconduct during a hearing of a gender-based claim were brought to his attention.

The Director, Office of Integrity (the Director) was tasked with investigating the conduct of the member at the hearing. The purpose of the investigation was to assist the Chairperson in determining whether the member’s conduct at the hearing was in keeping with the professional and ethical standards of conduct set out in the Code of Conduct for Members of the IRB (Code of Conduct).

The member subsequently retired from the IRB. The former member chose not to participate in the investigation.

In conducting his investigation, the Director listened to the audio recording and reviewed the transcript of the hearing.

The Director prepared an investigation report and concluded that some of the member’s questions to the claimant at the hearing were highly problematic. The manner in which the questions were asked was at odds with the need for sensitivity, dignity and respect when members preside at gender-based claims. Members must test the veracity of claims and are expected to lay out their valid concerns for the claimant based on the record.  However, in the context of gender-based claims, they should, at an absolute minimum, soften the delivery of their questions and frame those questions in a compassionate and caring manner. That was not done in this case.

The investigation report stated that a question the member asked at the hearing reflected a personal view and prejudice on the part of the member and a lack of understanding of the claimant’s circumstances.

The investigation report also concluded that there was a failure on the part of the member to approach the questioning with the extreme sensitivity and compassion which is required when asking questions about sexual assault. Members are trained to create a safe and comfortable environment for claimants who have suffered from sexual violence, to acknowledge vulnerabilities, to be open to the need for accommodation measures, to be as unobtrusive as possible and to treat the claimant with humanity and compassion. In this case, the member did not meet these expectations.

The Director concluded that there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct.

The report was submitted to the Chairperson. The Chairperson accepted the conclusions in the report and he decided that there was a breach of the Code of Conduct.

Since the member was no longer an employee of the IRB, the Chairperson was satisfied that there was no need for corrective or disciplinary measures.

With regards to institutional measures, the Chairperson decided this case will be considered in informing the revision of Guideline 4 – Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution Therefore, the case was taken into consideration as part of the development of revisions to the Guideline. 

The former member was informed of the Chairperson’s decision.

The special review was closed.