Inconsistent accounts of persecution by asylum seekers do not necessarily mean that they are fabricating their histories, and should not be used as a reason for refugees to be refused asylum, argue researchers in this weeks BMJ.
The study involved 27 Kosovan and 12 Bosnian refugees, all of whom had been granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom under a UN programme. All participants were interviewed twice about a traumatic event. The time between interviews ranged from three to 32 weeks.
Discrepancies between the two accounts were found for all participants, even though there was no reason for fabrication. Those with high levels of post-traumatic stress were more likely to give inconsistent accounts if they had a long time to wait between interviews, say the authors. In the asylum process, there may be months or years between the original interview and an appeal hearing.
This study shows the danger of concluding that asylum seekers are fabricating their histories, solely on the basis of discrepancies between interviews, even when the interviews are only weeks apart, say the authors. It has important implications for national and international policy in the assessment of asylum seekers.
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Contact: Emma Wilkinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal
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