REPORT: Concerns Raised About Potentially Fake Nigerian Asylum Claims

Many of the asylum claims feature very similar stories, leading to a belief that some are being fabricated.

Legal Aid Ontario is concerned that some claims by Nigerians seeking asylum in Canada may be fabricated.

The concern is due to the high volume of claims (60-70%) that are based on sexual orientation, and feature very similar stories.

According to a report, “Jawad Kassab, who leads the refugee and immigration program at Legal Aid Ontario, said the agency has identified an “unusual” pattern in sexual orientation claims filed by Nigerian refugee seekers this year. He said the agency has written to five lawyers who represent a “high volume” of those cases and asked if they can help explain what’s behind it. He would not name the lawyers.”

Nigeria has become an increasingly hostile place for gay people, leading to more asylum claims. However, the percentage of claims based on sexual orientation from Nigeria has reached a point that is considered “high, relative to other countries.”

According to Kassab, “the stories often involved a married person whose spouse discovered them with a same-sex partner. The married couple then reconciled and they and the same-sex partner all applied for refugee status in Canada over fears of persecution in Nigeria.”

Additionally, just a few layers are responsible for many of the claims using that story. As a result, there is a concern that claimants are being coached on what to say in order to raise their odds of staying in Canada.

Nigeria represents the second largest source of people who have sought refugee status in Canada so far this year.

Another factor behind the surge in claims could be the fact that the Trudeau government has loosened up the rules, making changes to the Immigration & Refugee Board (IRB) that pushes adjudicators to give claimants the benefit of the doubt.

This will only raise further questions as to the integrity of our immigration and refugee system, and increase concern that the generosity of Canadians is being taken advantage of.

Spencer Fernando

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