CRS Seminar: What Would You Have Me Do? Guidelines on Credibility Assessment in Refugee Hearings

March 23, 2017 @ 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Osgoode Hall Lecture room 1003
4700 Keele St
North York, ON M3J
Michele Millard

Guest Speaker: Hilary Evans Cameron, B.A. (Hons) (McGill) 1998, LL.B. (Osgoode Hall) 2001, called to the Ontario Bar in 2003, SJD (University of Toronto) 2016.


The Osgoode-Trinity Credibility Assessment Working Group set out to develop materials to help Refugee Board members make better decisions about refugee claimants’ credibility. Policy documents in Canada and abroad warn of the dangers of rejecting a claimant’s evidence based on certain kinds of factors (the claimant’s demeanour, memory for dates, minor inconsistencies, etc.). Rather than repeat these important warnings, the Working Group’s Guidelines propose a new way of looking at credibility assessment and its role in a refugee hearing. This novel evidence-based framework requires Board members to approach this task with a new set of aims and processes, drawing on recent cognitive scientific research.


Hilary practiced refugee law for a decade, representing claimants before the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court. Her research explores decision-making in the refugee determination context with a focus on credibility assessment. She has published two articles on this topic in the International Journal of Refugee Law, and has also written on the right of Canadian children to challenge their parents’ deportations in Federal Court (UBC Law Review), on legal pedagogy (Journal of Law and Social Policy), and on the standard of judicial review (Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees relies on her research, and recently invited her to Europe to participate in a UN Expert Roundtable on Credibility Determination. Her work has been included in a leading anthology of the “the finest scholarship available” in refugee law from the 1930s to the present. Hilary has been invited to train refugee status decision-makers in Canada, and recently went to Sweden to assist a team of cognitive psychologists attempting to improve the Swedish refugee system. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, an instructor at Trinity College, and a Visiting Associate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics, where she is working on a book about the law of fact-finding in refugee status decision-making.