Identity -basic personal identity -is of paramount importance in refugee claims (and indeed, the entire immigration system). Section 106 of the IRPA requires the IRB to take into account whether the claimant possesses acceptable documentation establishing identity:
106 The Refugee Protection Division must take into account, with respect to the credibility of a claimant, whether the claimant possesses acceptable documentation establishing identity, and if not, whether they have provided a reasonable explanation for the lack of documentation or have taken reasonable steps to obtain the documentation.
Certain claim profile present challenges in terms of providing identity documents. Refugee claimants from Somalia usually have to present alternative forms of identification and identity verification since passports and driver's licenses are difficult to obtain.
If identity is in question, the Minister (CBSA) can intervene. Rule 29 of the RPD sets out the following:
Notice of intention to intervene
29 (1) To intervene in a claim, the Minister must provide
(a) to the claimant, a copy of a notice of the Minister’s intention to intervene; and
(b) to the Division, the original of the notice, together with a written statement indicating how and when a copy was provided to the claimant.
Contents of notice
(2) In the notice, the Minister must state
(a) the purpose for which the Minister will intervene;
(b) whether the Minister will intervene in writing only, in person, or both; and
(c) the Minister’s counsel’s contact information.
Intervention — exclusion clauses
(3) If the Minister believes that section E or F of Article 1 of the Refugee Convention may apply to the claim, the Minister must also state in the notice the facts and law on which the Minister relies.
CBSA has document analysis experts (the "Document Analysis Unit") that can examine and determine whether submitted identity documents are counterfeit or fraudulent. The imputed document is often compared against sample documents and examined under low and high magnification. The document can also be examined with a video spectral comparator. False documents often lack watermarks and ultra-violet security features, the security features are simulated and may be printed on commercial grade paper.
A claimant that either presents false documents may risk a finding that the claim is "manifestly unfounded":
107.1 If the Refugee Protection Division rejects a claim for refugee protection, it may state in its reasons for the decision that the claim is manifestly unfounded if it is of the opinion that the claim is clearly fraudulent.
Beyond merely losing their claim, an individual that uses false documents risks criminal prosecution under the IRPA:
122 (1) No person shall, in order to contravene this Act,
(a) possess a passport, visa or other document, of Canadian or foreign origin, that purports to establish or that could be used to establish a person’s identity;
(b) use such a document, including for the purpose of entering or remaining in Canada; or
(c) import, export or deal in such a document.
Proof of offence
(2) Proof of the matters referred to in subsection (1) in relation to a forged document or a document that is blank, incomplete, altered or not genuine is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the person intends to contravene this Act.
There is a deferral of prosecution if a refugee claim has been filed.