Arabic LADO in the UK Asylum System: Does It Work?

Layal Mohammad's picture
October 2, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Arabic History / Studies, Government and Public Service, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Law and Legal History, Linguistics


Part of DIALOGUES 2019: a thought-provoking series of seminars on governance in Muslim contexts


Language Assessment for the Determination of Origin (LADO) is a government-commissioned test taken by asylum seekers in some countries as part of the asylum application. The premise of LADO is that the way someone speaks reflects their place of origin, and therefore assessing their speech verifies an applicant’s claimed place of origin. If they come from a place where there is war or another form of persecution, then they have a stronger case for claiming asylum. There are problems with both the premise and the implementation of LADO, but there are scientific linguistic ways of linking geography, mobility and ways of speaking. Linguists are divided over the issue of whether LADO works as a method for ‘catching out’ speakers who claim to be from somewhere, but are from somewhere else.


In the UK, the Home Office has outsourced language analyses to private contractors. In 2014, in a case brought forward by two asylum seekers against the Secretary of State for Home Department, the UK Supreme Court called for a ‘review’ of legal guidance from asylum tribunals on the use of linguistic evidence and arguments in LADO reports. This Dialogue Event of the AKU-ISMC’s Governance Programme is an opportunity to discuss whether the appropriate review has taken place since the ruling.

Prof Peter Patrick, University of Essex; author of ‘Language Analysis for Determination of Origin (LADO) in Arabic-dominant Settings’ in The Routledge Handbook of Arabic Sociolinguistics ed. by Enam Al-Wer and Uri Horesh (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019), and of ‘Language Analysis for Determination of Origin: Objective Evidence for Refugee Status Determination’ in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law ed. by Peter M. Tiersma & Lawrence M. Solan. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).


Dr Mohammed Ateek, Birkbeck, University of London; co-author (with Sebastian M. Rasinger), of ‘Syrian or non-Syrian? Reflections on the Use of LADO in the UK’ in Forensic Linguistics: Asylum-seekers, Refugees and Immigrants ed. by I.M.Nick (Delaware and Malaga: Vernon Press, 2018).

Dr Chris Lucas, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; has researched dialectological methods in application to LADO, for instance ‘Determining the Origin of Asylum Claimants through Language Analysis: The Case of Arabic’ (Lecture, SOAS, 2017).

This event is organised by AKU-ISMC's Governance Programme. The Governance Programme’s annual workshops and conferences on a range of themes explore how Muslim societies develop political systems that promote public welfare, achieve popular legitimacy and recognise minority rights in a time marked by heated debates over tradition, religion and modernity.

Time and Venue
Wednesday 2 October 2019, 17.30-19.30
Atrium Conference Room,
Aga Khan Centre,
10 Handyside Street,
London N1C 4DN

This event is free but booking is essential. Book as soon as possible

Contact Info: 

Layal Mohammad

Coordinator, Marketing, Communications and Professional Programmes

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

The Aga Khan University (International)

Aga Khan Centre, 10 Handyside Street, London N1C 4DN


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