Improving objectivity, balance and forensic fitness in LAAP
a response to Matras
Keywords:laap, lado, bayes, forensic awareness, bias, hypothesis testing
This paper is a response to Yaron Matras’s article ‘Duly verified? Language analysis in UK asylum applications of Syrian refugees’. Matras evaluates 50 reports by the Stockholm-based agency Verified AB. He introduces his own approach, which he calls ‘inductive-dialectological’, and claims that it addresses many of the problems in Verified’s approach. We respond on a number of fronts. We interpret the role and duty of the expert performing language analysis in the asylum procedure as essentially the same as that of a forensic expert in criminal law. We argue that Matras’s approach fails to adhere to principles of sound forensic evidence, thereby risking biased conclusions. Furthermore, we contend that Matras’s view on the question to be addressed is not in line with the trier of fact’s requirements. We also consider the need for a fixed conclusion scale, the institutional demands driving casework and the large number of disparate conclusions among experts. We conclude with some advice to asylum courts and LAAP practitioners.
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