I’ve come across some interesting articles on ‘credibility’ through the Forced Migration Current Awareness Blog. This is an excellent blog which records various publications on all sorts of interesting subjects and effectively catalogues them, making future access possible. Links often appear on Free Movement in the bottom left hand feed box.
I hate the word ‘credibility’. I can’t see what is wrong with ‘truthfulness’, which is what we are really talking about. The vagueness and lack of focus of the word ‘credibility’ encourages appalling reasoning in Home Office reasons for refusal letters and HOPO submissions. I came across a classic example recently. There was very compelling medical evidence to show that tattoos had been burned off my client in several places. The Home Office argued that tattoos were unusual in the client’s culture, therefore his credibility was adversely affected. No more explanation was given.
But how was his ‘credibility’ affected? He obviously had indeed had tattoos and they had been burned off him. If we talked about truthfulness instead, I would have hoped that the Home Office official would have recognised the incompleteness of the argument, or perhaps even its absurdity.
Anyway, this article by Dr Sameer P. Sarkar in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law is a good introduction to those interested in notions of truth, perception, memory, recall and trauma. The article is hardly revelatory or groundbreaking as it should be universally understood that humans do not videotape events around them and cannot therefore replay them perfectly, in the right order, including everything that happened. However, this is sadly not universally understood in the world of immigration and asylum law. At least, not by immigration judges.
There is another very interesting article by Crystal Estrada in the Thomas Jefferson Law Review on the treatment of unaccompanied child asylum seeker testimony in the United States, arguing for a rebuttable presumption in favour of believing unaccompanied children. I think this is a hot topic here in the UK. I’ve seen enough appalling examples of bad practice regarding children that I’m sure this issue will reach the higher courts sometime soon.