Ramezankhah, F (2017) The Tale of Two Men: Testimonial Styles in the Presentation of Asylum Claims. International Journal of Refugee Law. ISSN 1464-3715

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Abstract

In determining refugee status, the credibility of an asylum seeker is significantly influenced by the way he or she presents the claim. In the United Kingdom, as elsewhere, the initial decision makers place great emphasis on a detailed, consistent, and plausible account as an indicator of credibility. There is evidence that socio-economic background and education may affect witnesses’ testimonial styles. However, in the context of asylum, most research has shied away from investigating other factors that influence testimonial styles and how claims are presented. In addition, there has never been a comparison of the presentational skills of two asylum seekers, with similar backgrounds, personal characteristics, and claims, in order to explore how these skills impact on the success of their claims. Drawing on a range of disciplines and empirical data from selected Free Association Narrative Interviews, this article compares two asylum seekers with similar attributes and similar asylum grounds, whose presentational skills were found to be significantly dissimilar. The findings are based on analysis of their interview data, which provided insights into how their asylum testimonies may have been presented. The UNHCR Handbook, which sets out guidelines for determining refugee status, highlights that it is not the duty of an asylum seeker to analyse his or her case to such an extent as to identify the reasons for persecution in detail. In light of this, the article challenges the assumption and expectation that asylum seekers can be left to their own devices to present a detailed and consistent claim. It concludes that, if individuals possess different presentational skills that may affect the outcome of their claims, then asylum seekers deficient in such skills should be supported by prior familiarization with the asylum process.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Oxford University Press at https://doi.org/10.1093/ijrl/eex014 - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 11:10
Last Modified: 16 May 2017 11:14
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3443

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