The Globe reports today that Federal Court judges are taking issue with the practice of immigration officials who have entered Wikipedia entries in immigration proceedings,
“Wikipedia is an internet Encyclopedia which anyone with Internet access can edit,” wrote one exasperated Federal Court judge, criticizing Ottawa’s filings in a case to remove a family of Turkish asylum seekers.
“It is an open-source reference with no editorial control,” scoffed another judge, as he took federal agents to task for consulting Wikipedia before sending an immigrant back to Iran…
“Wikipedia is specifically discouraged as a reference in decision making, unless it is supported by information from a credible, reliable source,” Karen Shadd, a federal spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mailed response to questions from The Globe and Mail. Federal screening agents, she added, get training “on assessing Internet sources.”
The article also notes that Wikipedia has been used at least a dozen times in the Federal Court, and is mentioned in over 100 decisions in CanLii in other contexts.
The problem with the type of evidence used in the immigration proceedings is that they are highly politicized and often contentious, making alleged claims about ties to organizations or groups that may or may not exist. It’s hardly the type of material that Wikipedia could potentially be used appropriately for – on issues of common knowledge for judicial notice.
The article indicates that lawyers working in the area of immigration like Lorne Waldman suggest that more training over the use of Wikipedia may be needed.