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carry the conviction of the Op


The standard OFPRA sentence granting refugee status is as follows: 

"The statements of the person concerned appeared coherent, detailed, spontaneous" or "credible, probable, imbued with emotion...". 

Regardless of the synonyms, none of the qualifying adjectives refers to the veracity of the facts. Thus, the decision whether or not to grant refugee status does not answer the question: "Is this a true story?" but follows from the following: “Has the asylum seeker convinced the PO? »

1) What is intimate conviction?


In France, the expression "intimate conviction" is a concept of criminal justice which is the basis for the assessment of an individual's guilt and the pronouncement of judgment. The use of this term for people who are not supposed to have committed an offense surprises and questions*.

At OFPRA, intimate conviction enables the FO to make decisions quickly.


When I have doubts, my boss replies: “Trust your intimate conviction, this indescribable feeling felt when an asylum seeker lies. As if recognizing a refugee was based on the mode of evidence for everyone.

2) Some questions around intimate conviction


A study* on intimate conviction in the judicial environment shows that during a trial, the absence of accountability changes the verdict of the jurors. Without a motivation imperative, they tend to make a harsher judgment. A person's intimate conviction therefore depends on whether or not there is an imperative to justify the judgment that they issue. 


The study also shows that “faced with the undecidable, magistrates prefer to confirm their opinions, therefore resorting to the doxa circulating in the social and judicial world (…)” to render their verdict. Intimate conviction therefore directs “judgment towards the known rather than the unknown. »


By transposing the conclusions of this study to the framework of FOs, several questions can be raised. Does the fact that proposals for rejection are less subject to the requirement of motivation than proposals for granting refugee status cause a harsher judgment on the part of FOs? Faced with uncertainty, is recourse to the doxa a means of confirming the intimate conviction of FOs?


3) Intimate belief in performance and routine


How to deliver an intimate story when the OP, in a hurry to end the interview, looks at his watch? How to succeed in convincing a PO worn out by the routine of stories?


My boss told me that the renewal of my CDD is conditional on the fact that I offer fewer agreements. I was hired to destock. I have to make my number: two decisions a day. So as not to forget that performance is our objective, the hierarchy offers the most deserving POs a bonus of several hundred euros.

Over time, the successive stories all seem identical to me. What's more normal ? What looks more like a war than another war? I must redouble my efforts so that the faces of the asylum seekers do not fade from my memory when I reread their interview.

The pressure of numbers and the routine then transform me into a real rejection machine.

I tirelessly search the thesaurus for negative terms: “insufficiently explicit”,  

“incoherent”, “incomprehensible”… I forget that these words will reach a person who will read them with tears in their eyes.

The perfect asylum seeker understands that no matter how perfect they may become,

obtaining refugee status is based on a subjective notion

and fluctuating: intimate conviction. 


*Florence Greslier, The Refugee Appeals Commission or “intimate conviction” in the face of the decline in the right to asylum in France, European Review of International Migration, vol. 23 - No. 2, 2007

*Catherine Esnard, Marie-José Grihom, Laurence Leturmy, Intimate conviction: impact on the judgment of jurors and magistrates, Socio-cognitive regulations and subjective implications, July 8, 2005

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