Establishing Origin: Analysing the Questions Asked in Asylum Interviews

Tanja S. van Veldhuizen*, Rachel P.A.E. Maas, Robert Horselenberg, Peter J. van Koppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the absence of evidence, asylum seekers are interviewed to assess the credibility of their stories. Few studies have examined whether or not the questions asked in such interviews stimulate the applicant to give lengthy, detailed, and accurate answers. The style, type, and content of the questions asked in order to assess a claim about origin were analysed in 40 case files from the Dutch Immigration Service. A large proportion of the questions were closed and fact-checking questions. Less than one fifth of questions were open or cued recall questions. The results show that to assess credibility of origin, knowledge questions were posed about the immediate living environment, flight to Europe, identity documents, country of origin, and personal background of applicants. Possibilities for increasing the quantity and quality of information obtained in asylum interviews are discussed. Future research should validate the assumption that truthful claimants have substantial knowledge about their country and town of origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-302
Number of pages20
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number2
Early online date24 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2018


  • asylum procedure
  • credibility assessment
  • investigative interviewing
  • origin claims
  • question content
  • question style
  • question type


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