Case No. 21-008

​​The complainant acted as counsel for refugee claimants before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) received unsolicited materials from an individual “denouncing” the refugee claimants. The IRB then sent a letter to the individual to call them to appear as a witness at the hearing.

The complaint alleged that in calling the individual to appear as a witness, the IRB breached its duty of confidentiality with respect to the refugee claims, and the member put the claimants’ security at risk. It was alleged that the IRB’s letter to the witness disclosed such information as: the fact that the claimants had made refugee claims, the client identification numbers, the RPD file numbers, the claimants’ addresses, and the name and address of the claimants’ counsel. The individual in question published the IRB’s letter on Facebook. The complainant submitted that this disclosure of the claimants’ confidential information by the IRB was particularly problematic, in light of previous history between the claimants and the individual.

The allegations in the complaint were not about the member’s conduct, but rather, were about the member’s decision-making and the management of the proceeding, or the RPD’s processes. For this reason, the Chairperson decided that this complaint relates to the exercise of adjudicative discretion and not to the member’s conduct. As per section 3 of the Procedures for Making a Complaint about a Member (the Procedures), complaints related to the exercise of the member’s adjudicative discretion are not investigated. Members are independent decision-makers; therefore, their adjudicative independence must be unfettered. The appropriate forum for concerns about adjudicative discretion is the associated appeals division or the Federal Court.

However, consistent with the recommendation of the Ombudsperson, the Chairperson decided pursuant to paragraph 5.5(b) of the Procedures that given the serious nature of the allegations, the complaint should be addressed through another process.

The Chairperson asked the Deputy Chairperson of the Refugee Protection Division to review the complaint without delay and immediately take any appropriate follow-up actions. The RPD in conjunction with the Registry subsequently performed a review of their procedures for hearings and committed to revising the procedures to avoid such situations in the future. The results of the Deputy Chairperson’s actions were communicated to the complainant by letter.

The file was closed.