The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“the Act”) requires the Immigration and Refugee Board (“IRB”) to “…deal with all proceedings before it as informally and quickly as the circumstances and the considerations of fairness and natural justice permit.”Footnote 1 Ensuring the fair and efficient determination of refugee claims before the Refugee Protection Division (“RPD”) and appeals before the Refugee Appeal Division (“RAD”) is of great importance to the Board and is essential to dealing with a significant backlog in the refugee determination continuum.
The identification of jurisprudential guides is meant to facilitate decision-making in both Divisions consistent with the IRB’s statutory obligation as set out above. It is also meant to promote consistency and coherence in the treatment of factually similar cases.
As indicated in the IRB’s Policy on the Use of Jurisprudential Guides (Policy 2003-01, as amended on December 3, 2019) (“the Policy”), jurisprudential guides are not binding and members remain free to reach their own conclusions, based on the facts of each particular case.
RPD and RAD members are encouraged to consider the reasoning in jurisprudential guides in cases with similar facts or to explain their reasoning for not doing so.
Therefore, on 6 July, 2018 pursuant to section 159(1)(h) of the Act, and after consultation with the Deputy Chairpersons, the Chairperson of the IRB identified the following RAD decision as a jurisprudential guide:
Scope: Internal flight alternatives in major cities in south and central Nigeria for claimants fleeing non-state actors
Decision TB7-19851 finds that there are several large cities in Nigeria that may, depending on the facts of the case, serve as viable internal flight alternatives (IFAs) for persons fleeing non-state actors. More specifically, the Chairperson identifies the analysis provided in paragraphs 13-30 as forming the basis of this jurisprudential guide. These paragraphs consider the objective evidence of conditions in the proposed IFAs.
In these reasons, TB7-19851 addresses a question of mixed fact and law, and establishes that:
- There are several large, multilingual, multiethnic cities in south and central Nigeria, including Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Benin City, where persons fleeing non-state actors may be able to safely establish themselves, depending on their own particular circumstances.
- There is a non-exhaustive list of factors that may be considered in determining whether the conditions in a potential IFA render it objectively unreasonable for a claimant or appellant to seek refuge there. These factors are: travel and transportation, language, education, employment, accommodation, health care, culture, indigeneship, and religion.
This jurisprudential guide:
- provides guidance to RPD members, in appropriate circumstances, to conduct more focused hearings by proceeding directly to an analysis of IFA within Nigeria without necessarily having to first decide the credibility of a claimant’s allegations of persecution;
- encourages RPD and RAD members, in appropriate circumstances, to issue more focused reasons by considering the IFA analysis in TB7-19851 when dealing with claims/appeals raising similar issues;
- provides persuasive reasoning that will assist members in addressing the viability of an IFA in Nigeria for those fearing non-state agents as well as factors often considered in assessing the reasonableness of proposed IFAs
Furthermore, the Chairperson finds that Decision TB7-19851 is well-written, provides detailed and clear analysis, and considers all the relevant issues in the case.