Gathering Evidence

It is important to gather any documents that are relevant to your refugee claim to show the Member of the IRB-RPD that you are telling what actually happened to you and why you cannot return to your country. These documents will help the Member understand the human rights conditions in your country and give credibility to your claim.

When to start gathering evidence

Gathering evidence can take time, particularly if you are trying to obtain documents from your home country. You should start gathering evidence to support your refugee claim as soon as possible. If you have a legal representative, ask what specific evidence may help your claim, provide an update about what documents you have received, and have them review your evidence.

Translation requirements

All evidence, including audio recordings, you submit to the IRB-RPD to support your claim must be translated into English or French.

Do not use Google Translate or translate your own documents. Certified translators are best, but not required. If you cannot pay for a professional translator, you can have someone else you trust (preferably not a relative) translate your documents for you. This person must sign a translator’s declaration. The translator’s declaration must include: 

  • The translator’s name
  • The translated language and dialect, if any
  • A statement that the translation is accurate, and, 
  • The signature of the translator.

Supporting evidence

In general, there are four types of supporting evidence that you must provide for your refugee claim:

Evidence of your personal identity 

You must provide evidence of your identity and citizenship. This evidence can include: a passport, national identity card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, school transcript or certificate, driver’s license or military identity, professional and religious membership documentation.

Evidence that is specific to your claim

You must provide evidence that is relevant to your claim. This type of evidence may show:

  • Your story and all the events in your narrative are credible
  • You have a genuine fear of persecution in your country
  • The risk you face in your country is personal and not generalized
  • The government in your country is unable to protect you, and/or
  • You cannot reasonably or safely live in another city or part of your country.

Below are some questions and examples of evidence that may help you when you are gathering evidence that is specific to your claim:

  • Are there photographs, letters, videos, emails, texts, or other documents that show the problems you had? Get them! 
  • Did you go to the police or another government agency for help? Get a copy of the police report or other proof of your visit. 
  • Did you get medical help? Get a copy of your hospital or doctor’s records. 
  • Are there news articles or online posts about people who are connected to your case? Get them! 
  • Are there people who witnessed what happened to you? Ask them to write what happened and send it to you. If possible, ask this person to declare that their statement is true in front of a lawyer or notary. 
  • Are there people who have experienced problems that are similar to yours? Ask them to describe their experiences in writing. If possible, ask this person to swear their statement is true in front of a lawyer or notary.
  • Is your claim based on your religious identity or membership in a political party or other group? Get documents that show your membership. 
  • Has your mental health suffered because of what happened to you? Get a report from a doctor or psychologist in Canada which documents your mental health problems. It can take a long time to get the report, so make an appointment as soon as possible.
  • Are you active on social media? Get screenshots of posts that you have shared or posts that are directly related to your story.
Country conditions evidence

This type of evidence includes reports from credible sources that demonstrate the conditions in your country that may relate to your claim such as political, social, cultural, economic, and human rights conditions. 

The IRB-RPD has many country condition documents in the National Documentation Packages (NDPs) that are updated by the IRB for your country. NDPs contain public documents that describe the conditions in your country.

Some of these reports may be outdated. You should talk to your legal representative to see if updated reports and news articles may help your case. This may be important if conditions in your country have recently changed or if the situation you experienced is not described in any of the documents in the NDP.

View your country’s National Documentation Packages.

Witnesses

Witnesses may give oral testimony at your hearing to support your claim. A witness is a person who knows about your claim and can provide information that will help the Member make a decision. For your hearing, any witness will need to be prepared to answer questions from both your lawyer and from the Member on any relevant issue. Witnesses cannot listen to your testimony and you cannot have any contact with them during breaks. The Member will let you know when they may give their testimony. In some cases, the Member may not need to hear their testimony in order to make a decision on your refugee claim. 

If you will invite a witness, submit the following information about them in writing to the IRB-RPD, at least 10 days before your hearing date:

  • Contact information (address, telephone number and fax number)
  • A short statement about the relevance of their testimony
  • How long their testimony will take
  • Your relationship to the witness
  • How they will testify – in person (in the case of an in-person hearing), by videoconference or by telephone
  • The language and dialect, if they need interpretation
  • If the witness is an expert, you must also give information about their qualifications and include a report that summarizes their testimony, signed by the witness.