Asylum narratives and credibility assessments: an ethnographic study of the asylum appeal process in Scotland

Farrell, Catherine (2012) Asylum narratives and credibility assessments: an ethnographic study of the asylum appeal process in Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Asylum claimants regularly arrive in the UK without corroborating evidence to support their request for refugee protection. Consequently, an assessment of the credibility of the applicant’s account of persecution tends to become the focal point of asylum decision-making. In order for an applicant’s asylum claim to be assessed as factual, and therefore, credible it must be prepared in a way that conforms to the narrative models in legal discourse and meets the evidential requirements for showing past persecution and a future well-founded fear of persecution. It is for this reason, in part, that the role of legal practitioners becomes crucial. This thesis explores the ways that asylum solicitors deal with the issue of credibility in their daily working practices. It also examines the structural and procedural constraints which affect the working practices of solicitors when representing asylum clients in this way in asylum appeals.

Based on ethnographic research conducted in Glasgow over an eighteen-month period, this thesis considers the ways that asylum solicitors approach credibility when representing asylum clients. This thesis explores the different forms of paid and unpaid labour undertaken by asylum solicitors and analyses how external factors such as legal aid funding arrangements affect the morale and working practices of solicitors who represent asylum claimants. It seeks to argue that a criminalising discourse exists in the asylum and immigration processes in Glasgow. Moreover, it demonstrates that such discourses extend to a cohort of asylum solicitors working in Glasgow and that the culture of disbelief which exists among these solicitors results in them regularly disbelieving their asylum clients’ accounts. Finally, by considering proposed changes to funding arrangements in Scotland, which would bring them in line with those in place in England and Wales, this thesis contends that were these arrangements to be introduced this would result in the underrepresentation of, and limited access to justice for, asylum applicants in Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
K Law > KD England and Wales > KDC Scotland
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Gibb, Dr. Robert and Craig, Ms. Sarah
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Miss Catherine Farrell
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-4299
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 May 2013 08:32
Last Modified: 30 May 2013 08:32

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