top of page

The objectives of the interview (2nd part)

After the first checks, the maintenance aims to:


4) Establishing the persecutions and the rationality of the fears of persecution


5) Defining the individualization of fears of persecution


6) Assess whether the asylum seeker has availed himself of the protection of the authorities of his country


7) Study the fears of persecution in the event of return to the country of origin or to the country of residence

4) establish whether fears of persecution are rational 

The PO asks whether the claimant's fears are rational and can reasonably be believed.

Mrs F.

Madame F. looks around her, as if to check that there is no one else in the room.

Then she comes closer to me and whispers:

“My neighbor cast spells on me. I couldn't move for several months. Today, my neck is still blocked. »

The rationality of a fear

fits into a Western cultural framework.

Mrs. F. is disabled by real psychological and physical trauma. Medical certificates attest to his condition.

Although voodoo is an integral part of Haitian culture and despite the reality of its physical and mental health, witchcraft is not recognized by OFPRA as constituting a rational fear of persecution. 


The measure of rationality comes up against cultural variability and leads to the rejection of Mrs F's asylum application.


Mr G.

Monsieur G., a young deserter, spreads his drawings on my desk: horses with bulging eyes, dying in the middle of a battlefield and tangled whirlwinds.


He offers me his works of raw art, as if they were sufficient in themselves to express his story to me. He does not speak. He doesn't answer my questions. Words have no hold on him. He hands me his drawings. 

I cannot fill in the boxes of his marital status, detail his military career, blacken his flight from the country with lines just with his drawings.

So, resigned, he puts them in his backpack, gets up and pushes the exit door.


The verbalization of fears as an element of his rationality

Mr. G. is unable to verbalize his story.


If his drawings attest to a traumatic past, the absence of words prevents establishing the rationality of his fears of persecution.


At OFPRA, only speech constitutes an element of proof.


Persecution fears need to be verbalized and made explicit so that the PO can ground them in reality.

Mr H.

Mr. H. takes the time to choose his words with precision.

– It's incredible, incredible, extraordinary, but it's the truth. The bomb exploded in front of the hotel, on the corner of the main street, a few minutes after I passed by. 

– The terrorists were targeting you?

– Yes, I was their target since the general strike in January. They had threatened me several times when I was at work. When I felt the hot blast of the explosion, I didn't turn around. There were screams, smoke, a burning smell. I was shaking. I ran without stopping as far as the river. I never believed in destiny, but there, it had to be admitted: God wanted me to live. After that I decided to leave the country. 

when the irrational becomes rational

Mr. H. uses Western cultural markers, that is, he provides place names and specific dates. He avoids terms that are too general and non-descriptive (near/far, recent/long, etc.) and gives elements that allow him to project a realistic setting to his story.


Indeed, in general, the PO has never been to the country of the asylum seeker. The latter must therefore provide the OP with the colors and shades to paint a figurative landscape.

In the case of Mr. H., the precision of his words made all of his declarations credible and his admission of his exceptional survival in the attack made it possible to consider that it is reasonable to believe him.

The deterioration of the situation

It is important to describe the deterioration of the initial situation. Indeed, conflicts generally arise from minor problems that escalate with subsequent or parallel incidents.

The applicant's word

Unlike the judicial system, where it is possible to call on outside witnesses, the assessment of the rationality of the asylum seeker's fears is based solely on their word, hence the importance of the consistency of their declarations.

The perfect asylum seeker demonstrates by any means that it is reasonable to believe him by exposing fears of rational persecution.


The threats to which it is subject are concrete, detailed, inscribed in a chronology and refer to a Western cultural framework. Finally, their growing seriousness pushes him to leave his country as a last resort.


5) Define the individualization of fears 

The Geneva Convention is based on an individual conception of the fear of persecution. This is why the asylum seeker must show why he was personally targeted. This is called the individualization of fears of persecution. 

Mrs J.

Madame J. repeats over and over that she is afraid of the police in her country.

– Why are you afraid of the police?

– The police are all corrupt. 

– Did you have a problem with a particular policeman?

– Yes... When I was visiting my husband in prison, the superintendent slipped his hand into my bodice... He told me to let it go, to avoid trouble for my husband... 

How is she personally targeted?

If Mrs. J. verbalizes her traumatic experience with difficulty, this admission is necessary because the simple declaration "I am afraid of the police" is not sufficient to establish the individualization of her fears of persecution._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


If the police are indeed known to be particularly corrupt in her country, Ms. J. must explain how the police represent a direct threat to her. Indeed, OFPRA does not grant refugee status to all nationals on the grounds that the police are corrupt in their country.

This exercise in individualizing fears requires an objectification of the event. It is complex to implement, especially when le 

trauma is hidden from loved ones or the community. 

The perfect asylum seeker has the perspective necessary to individualize his fears.

He is able to verbalize the reasons why he was personally threatened.

6) assess whether the applicant has availed himself of the protection of the authorities of his country

The Geneva Convention grants substitution protection, ie it applies only in the absence of exercise of national protection. The objective here is therefore to assess whether the asylum seeker has availed himself of the protection of his country.

Mrs K.

Ms. K. declares that she was the victim of sexual violence.

– Have you filed a complaint?

- Nope.

She does not follow up. She waits for the next question. I insist.

–  Why didn't you file a complaint? 

A silence settles. I ask him the question again.

– How could I file a complaint? I was bleeding profusely… 

The police station is very far from my house… And if I had done it, the whole village would have known… 

Why didn't she file a complaint?

Mrs. K. explains why she did not want to avail herself of the protection of the authorities of her country. Her critical state of health, the distance between her home and the police station and the fear of public opprobrium deterred her.


It is therefore not the act of filing a complaint that is important, it is the capacity of the asylum seeker to justify his choices that takes precedence.

The Perfect Asylum Seeker Indicates Why He Couldn't or Won't
claim the protection of the authorities of his country.
He himself develops the arguments that prevented him from doing so. 
If he filed a complaint, but the persecution continued,
he explains how violence is tolerated, even encouraged by the authorities of his country.


7) examine the applicant's fears of persecution in the event of return to the country


The OP seeks to know if the asylum seeker fears being persecuted again if he returns to his country. This question is thorny when it comes to nationals who have left a country considered safe.


A country is classified as “safe”: “if it ensures respect for the principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law, as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms”. The list of these countries is drawn up by the OFPRA Board of Directors.


As of 2015, these are the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Georgia, Ghana, India, Kosovo, Macedonia, Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Senegal and Serbia._cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


The files of asylum seekers from safe countries are processed in an accelerated procedure (within fifteen days) and recourse to the CNDA does not suspend deportation.

Mr L.

Mr. L. is inexhaustible on the demonstrations of summer 2011 in Armenia. I'm writing a proposal for refugee status. The next day, my boss summons me: “Our president has just gone to the Armenian capital to celebrate the friendship between our two countries. In a few months, the board will include Armenia in the list of “safe” countries. Commercial contracts are in the process of being signed…”

As he finishes his speech, I understand the directive given to me. Back in my office, I deleted my conclusion and replaced it with the following: “Despite the detailed and high-quality remarks, the fears of persecution of the person concerned in the event of a return to the country are no longer relevant. Motion to reject. »

Diplomatic issues

Within a few months, Mr. L. could have obtained the status of political refugee. Alas, a diplomatic visit tipped his fate towards that of the rejected asylum seekers. 

internal asylum


Internal asylum is defined by the fact that an asylum seeker can find refuge in his own country on a part of the territory where he would be safe.


The OFPRA therefore has the possibility of refusing refugee status when an asylum seeker "can have access to protection on part of the territory of his country of origin" and that he is "able, in complete safety, to access it in order to settle there and lead a normal family life".

The perfect asylum seeker justifies why,

if he returns to his country, he fears being persecuted again.

He explains how his fears are still current. 

He redoubles his efforts if he is a national of a safe country

or whether the concept of internal asylum can be applied to it.

bottom of page