Anthropology and Expertise in the Asylum Courts by Anthony Good

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By Anthony Good

Even though asylum has generated remarkable degrees of public and political quandary over the last decade, there was astonishingly little box study at the subject. this can be a examine of the felony means of claiming asylum from an anthropological point of view, targeting the position of specialist proof from 'country specialists' corresponding to anthropologists. It describes how such proof is utilized in checks of asylum claims via the house place of work and through adjudicators and tribunals listening to asylum appeals. It compares makes use of of social clinical and scientific proof in felony decision-making and analyzes, anthropologically, the felony makes use of of key options from the 1951 Refugee conference, similar to 'race', 'religion', and 'social group'. The facts is drawn from box remark of greater than three hundred attraction hearings in London and Glasgow; from said case legislation and from interviews with immigration adjudicators, tribunal chairs, barristers and solicitors, in addition to professional witnesses.

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Refusal Letters never speak outright of ‘torture’; the closest they ever get, even in extreme cases like this, is ‘ill-treatment’ (Asylum Aid 1999: 55). Legally, there is, in fact, a difference between the two: torture entails the deliberate inflicting of ‘severe physical or mental pain or suffering’ for a specific purpose, such as information-gathering or intimidation; whereas ill-treatment involves ‘intentional exposure to significant mental or physical pain or suffering’. 1 Mr Y’s treatment was judged not to constitute persecution.

Consequently, according to the information available to IND at the time, the basis of her claim was that she had been detained for one month and interrogated. As she admitted having assisted the LTTE, such questioning was deemed justifiable in the context of widespread ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, and not to amount to persecution. Among other things, my report had to account for her earlier reticence by explaining Tamil ideas and practices concerning kinship, sexuality, and purity. That refusal was therefore far less astounding than Mr Y’s ‘Reasons for Refusal Letter’ from IND, which reduced his story to ‘your claim that you had been arrested, detained and ill-treated ’ (my emphasis).

Tagged to definitions of social relationships’ (1990: 113), is clearly very similar to their relational orientation, while her ‘legal discourse’ resembles their rule orientation in being ‘a discourse of property, of rights . . of entitlement, of facts and truth’ (1990: 112). Her concern is almost entirely with how discourses are used by lay litigants rather than legal practitioners. Thus, her legal discourse ‘does not refer to particular laws or legal doctrines but to folk understandings of legal relations and procedures’ (1990: 112–13; italics added).

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