Canadian Refugee Procedure/Guideline 4 - Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution

Women and girls constitute 47 percent of refugees and asylum-seekers globally.[1] The adoption of guidelines for protection in cases of gender-related persecution has been described as an improvement in the implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention by academic commentators.[2] Canada's guidelines are part of an international trend to implement such guidelines or to add sex to legislation as an additional cause for recognition as a refugee, as as been done in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[3]

The GuidelineEdit

The text of the relevant Guideline is available on the IRB website.[4]


The guidelines may only be applied where gender is at issue in the proceeding or claimEdit

In Agaman v. Canada, the court held that the Chairperson’s Guideline 4 could not be applied in the case because a fear of persecution based on gender was not alleged and there were no facts to support such persecution or other difficulties specific to the female applicant’s gender:

Les demandeurs ont également fait valoir que la SPR n’a pas « bien pris en considération » les Directives numéro 4. À cet égard, ils affirment qu’étant donné qu’ils n’ont plus de statut permanent au Brésil, ils devront retourner en Haïti. Ils soutiennent que la SPR aurait dû examiner si la demanderesse bénéficierait d’une certaine protection en Haïti, celle-ci étant ciblée par les partisans de Lavalas en tant que conjointe du demandeur. Ils reprochent à la SPR de n’avoir posé aucune question à la demanderesse sur le sujet et de n’avoir fait aucune mention des Directives numéro 4 dans ses motifs. La Cour estime cet argument mal fondé. La demanderesse n’a jamais allégué une crainte de persécution fondée sur le sexe et il n’y a pas de faits tendant à démontrer une telle persécution ni de difficultés spécifiques liées à son sexe. Les Directives numéro 4 ne trouvent pas d’application dans toutes les situations où une femme demande la protection. Il faut que le sexe d’une demanderesse joue un rôle dans sa crainte de persécution. La crainte de persécution en l’espèce est exclusivement basée sur son association avec le père du demandeur et à son passé politique. Il n’a pas été question de persécution ou discrimination fondée sur le sexe. Par ailleurs, la Cour n’a relevé aucune insensibilité à l’égard de la demanderesse.[5]

Not mentioning the guidelines will not be fatal to a decision where the record demonstrates compliance with themEdit

RAD Member Atam Uppal noted in TB5-05211 that even though the RPD had not mentioned the Gender Guidelines in its reasons, nonetheless the RPD had respected the intent and spirit of them in the case at hand. The panel commented: "I note that the Appellant does not point to any evidence that the RPD was insensitive or inappropriate in its questions, or that it conducted the hearing in a way that was insensitive to the Appellant’s emotional state or her well-being."[6] As such, the RAD held in that case that despite not mentioning the guidelines in the original decision, this was not a basis on which to overturn the decision in and of itself. This is consistent with determinations from the Federal Court on point: Yu v. Canada.[7]

The Board can consider the Gender Guidelines where a claim involves the "secondary victims" of gendered persecution, such as parentsEdit

The Refugee Appeal Division has concluded that "Although the Chairperson’s Guideline 4 addresses the primary victim of rape, I find that the secondary victims, in this case the parents, must benefit from a certain sensitivity and appropriate understanding on behalf of the decision-maker when he questions them about this".[8] That was a case in which the primary victim of the gendered persecution was not a party to the refugee claim, but the RAD nonetheless, on the basis of, inter alia, insensitive questions that had been posed to these parents, remitted the matter to the RPD for reconsideration and ordered that "The RPD must take into consideration the Chairperson’s Guideline 4 in the adjudication of this case."[9]


  1. UNHCR, 2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons (2009), available at M>, p. 2.
  2. Andreas Zimmermann (editor), The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol: A Commentary. Oxford University Press, 2011, 1799 pp, ISBN 978-0-19-954251-2, Regional Developments: Americas, Authors: Piovesan and Jubilut, at p. 216 (para. 44).
  4. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Chairperson Guidelines 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution, Effective date: November 13, 1996, <> (Accessed February 5, 2020).
  5. Elisias, Agaman v. M.C.I. (F.C., No. IMM-974-19), Roussel, December 18, 2019; 2019 FC 1626, paras. 24-26.
  6. X (Re), 2016 CanLII 106273 (CA IRB), par. 33, <>, retrieved on 2020-05-13.
  7. Yu v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) (F.C., No. IMM-6175-19), Pallotta, June 17, 2021; 2021 FC 625.
  8. X (Re), 2020 CanLII 101262 (CA IRB), par. 14, <>, retrieved on 2020-12-21.
  9. X (Re), 2020 CanLII 101262 (CA IRB), par. 21, <>, retrieved on 2020-12-21.