To meet international protection standards, RSD procedures should satisfy certain basic requirements which reflect the refugee applicant’s special situation and uphold certain guarantees. Those necessary minimums include:
(i) Access to a procedure for the determination of refugee claims for all asylum seekers, no matter how they arrive within the jurisdiction of a State.
(ii) A single central, specialized authority responsible for examining and deciding on refugee status applications in the first instance. The success of the RSD process relies on the effective functioning of such a body and its implementation of coherent rules, criteria, and sources of information.
(iii) Qualified, trained, and impartial refugee status decision-makers with expertise in refugee and asylum matters, knowledge of the human rights situation in asylum seekers’ countries of origin, and skills in cross-cultural communication and gender-related sensitivities.
(iv) Access to legal counsel at all stages of the procedure for applicants and, if required, qualified and impartial interpreters. Applicants should have the right to contact UNHCR or organizations acting on behalf of UNHCR.
(v) A personal interview of every refugee applicant, in which the applicant presents decision-makers with evidence of their claim and addresses any questions. The interview and examination of the claim should be oriented towards cooperative inquiry.
(vi) A written explanation for refused claims, showing that decision-makers have considered all material facts, assessed credibility, identified and interpreted relevant laws, and applied the law to the established facts judiciously.
(vii) The right for applicants to review or appeal against a negative decision, with suspensive effect (i.e. consequences of an appealed decision are temporarily “frozen” and do not occur immediately after a decision has been made).
(viii) Confidentiality regarding proceedings and the protection of personal data.
(ix) Flexible procedures when assessing claims involving persons whose circumstances may inhibit their ability to present evidence supporting their claims. There should be special procedures for handling claims involving victims of torture or of sexual violence, unaccompanied minors, and LGBTIQ persons.
Documents and Resources:
- Procedural Standards for Refugee Status Determination under UNHCR’s Mandate (2020)
- Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol (2019)
- Ministry of Interior’s Procedure for Dealing with Political Asylum Seekers in Israel (last updated 10.10.2019) – English | Hebrew
- Legal considerations regarding access to protection and a connection between the refugee and the third country in the context of return or transfer to safe third countries (2018)
- UNHCR RSD Handbook and Accompanying Guidelines
- Guidelines on International Protection No. 3: Cessation of Refugee Status (the “Ceased Circumstances” Clauses) – English | Hebrew
- Guidelines on International Protection No. 4: “Internal Flight or Relocation Alternative” – English | Hebrew
- Guidelines on International Protection No. 5: Application of the Exclusion Clauses – English | Hebrew
- Guidelines on International Protection No. 11: Prima Facie Recognition of Refugee Status – English | Hebrew