All Countries Angola

2019 RLLR 217

Citation: 2019 RLLR 217
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 8, 2019
Panel: R. Jackson
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Sandra M. Gonzalez Ponce, Christian Julien
Country: Angola
RPD Number: TB8-07871
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-07913, TB7-12855
ATIP Number: A-2020-00859
ATIP Pages: 002821-002831


[1]       This is the decision in the claim of XXXX XXXX XXXX (“the principal claimant”), XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (“the associated claimant”) and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (“the minor claimant”), citizens of Angola, who are claiming refugee protection pursuant to ss. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.1

[2]       The associated claimant was appointed the designated representative for the minor claimant, her daughter.

[3]       These claims were heard jointly pursuant to Rule 55 of the Refugee Protection Division Rules.2


[4]       The allegations of the claimants are those contained in their Basis of Claim (BOC) forms, amendments, and further explained in their oral testimony. In summary, they fear that the government will harm them due to the principal claimant’s political activism.

[5]       The principal claimant alleges that he attended political protests in Angola and was part of a small group of people who would get together to express themselves through music or other means.

[6]       One day after work, he went to his father’s store, and after a while some unidentified men came into the business and asked for the principal claimant. They attacked him and his father. He was left for dead, and his father did not survive. The principal claimant fears returning to Angola because these people may harm him. The associated and minor claimants base their claims on that of the principal claimant.


[7]       The adult claimants were represented separately because their marriage has broken down and they are not living together.

[8]       There were three sittings of the hearing of this claim. Different interpreters were used. The claimants expressed some dissatisfaction with the interpretation at the second sitting. The panel was able to address the points of interpretation which the claimants were not happy with; however, the testimony was not proceeding efficiently, and it was decided by the panel that it would be more efficient to proceed with a different interpreter. Both counsels were given the opportunity to express their concerns about the interpretation and to review the audio between the second and third sittings, if they wished to do so. No application was ultimately made with regards to disregarding the testimony that was given with the help of any of the interpreters.


[9]       The panel finds that the principal claimant has a political opinion which opposes the Angolan government and, as he cannot safely express that opinion through public protest and wishes to do so, he is a Convention refugee.

[10]     The panel finds that the associated and minor claimants are not Convention refugees or persons in need of protection.


[11]     The claimants’ identities as nationals of Angola are adequately established by their testimony and the supporting documentation filed, including a certified copy of the principal claimant’s passport in Exhibit 1, as well as certified copies of the other claimants’ birth certificates. A copy of XXXX national identity card can also be found in Exhibit 1.

[12]     The claimants testified that false Portuguese passports were used to travel to Canada, but that they are not citizens of Portugal.

[13]     The determinative issues in this case are credibility and the principal claimant’s political opinion.


Claimants have not established attack was based on political opinion

[14]     The principal claimant established through his testimony and other documents on file that he was attacked in Angola. He also established that his father passed away.3 He was unable to establish with sufficient credible evidence that the attack was politically motivated.

[15]     The principal claimant had some difficulty testifying and providing details about his activities with a group he called “Reading Books.” He testified that this is not the same group as is mentioned in some of the country conditions documents presented.4 Some members of the group noted in the country conditions documents have been arrested. For clarity, the panel will refer to the principal claimant’s group as his “political discussion group,” as he testified that this was an informal group for discussions on political matters. Some people would make music to express themselves and sometimes they would attend political protests.

[16]     The principal claimant alleged that he had recruited some people to join the group, and he had met them at parties. When he was asked for an example of this, he said he had met someone (“FP”) at a party, but he could not remember the year. The panel asked what made the principal claimant think he could invite FP to the group, and the principal claimant gave a general reply, stating that when he’s talking to people they might discuss soccer and the conversation turns to politics and they will say their opinion. The panel asked if he could remember what it was that convinced him FP was trustworthy, and the principal claimant said no. The principal claimant had trouble explaining what he personally did as part of the political group, apart from attending some mass protests. When the panel attempted to get more information about his specific role, the answers were vague. A negative inference is taken as to the principal claimant’s credibility, and the panel finds that doubt has been cast upon how involved he really was in this political discussion group, and whether he in fact recruited new members.

[17]     The principal claimant testified that no other members of the group were attacked as he was, or had problems that he knew of based on the group. When there were protests, police would use force to contain the crowd, but this was not limited to members of his group.

[18]     The principal claimant presented a brief letter5 from a member of the political discussion group. The letter states that the principal claimant was in the group and was attacked as a consequence. No details are provided. The writer of the letter does not explain how he knows about the attack or how he knows that the principal claimant’s attack was related to the group. The panel did not have the opportunity to question the writer. The fact that the letter was accompanied by a copy of the identity card of the writer is positive, but it does not serve to establish that the attack was politically motivated. On its own, this letter is insufficient to establish a link between the political group and the principal claimant’s attack.

[19]     Similarly, there is a letter from XXXX mother6 on file. It is brief and states that the associated and minor claimants went to live with her in another part of Luanda because they were afraid after the attack on the principal claimant. The letter does not provide insight into who was behind the attack, and the panel was not given the opportunity to question the writer.

[20]     A Canadian medical assessment7 was performed on the principal claimant, which confirms that he has an injured eye.

[21]     The principal claimant testified about the attack, and he could not associate the men with any group, nor did he recognize them. He speculated they were government agents.

[22]     The principal claimant’s testimony about being followed subsequent to the attack was inconsistent. He said that he went into hiding in an area called Bengo. He thought he was being followed, so he took a flash photograph of the people following him so he could show to people and see if they recognized them. When asked where the image is now, the principal claimant said he just meant he used his memory. The panel noted that this is a different answer and that one cannot “show” memories to people. The principal claimant said he could describe them. The panel asked him if he could still remember any of these people, and he said one was tall, very thin, with a mustache. The principal claimant alleges that no one recognized these people and thus he knew he was being followed. The panel finds the claimant’s testimony on this issue to be vague, evolving, and unconvincing. The panel does not find the principal claimant’s testimony credible regarding the people following him in Bengo.

[23]     The principal claimant has not established with sufficient credible evidence that people were actually following him, and even if they were, that this had anything to do with the attack which took place in Luanda or his political activism.

[24]     Considering all of the above, the panel finds that the claimants have established that the principal claimant was attacked. Who was behind the attack, has not been established with sufficient credible evidence.

Summary – Attack on principal claimant

[25]     This claim is based on the principal claimant’s having been attacked by unknown individuals in his father’s store in Luanda. He alleges that he subsequently went into hiding in Bengo and there he believes there were other unknown men following him. At the hearing, he was unable to directly connect his political activities (attending protests and meeting with friends to discuss politics) to his attack. He said that the attackers must have been sent by the authorities because they asked for him by name and nothing was taken from the store. The panel finds that he is speculating, and it is insufficient to establish, on a balance of probabilities, that he was attacked for his political opinion.

[26]     This conclusion is further supported by the fact that none of the other members of his political discussion group have had any similar problems or any other problems that could be attributed to being targeted by anyone because of their political views. The panel is aware of the evidence8 presented by the claimants which indicate that Angolan authorities do break up protests and have arrested some peaceful activists. The panel also considered the objective evidence cited in the following section of these reasons. The preponderance of the evidence does not support the allegation that Angolan state actors targeted persons with similar profiles to the principal claimant, as someone who attended protests as a member of the crowd and who occasionally discussed politics with others. Meetings and protests were broken up, but the panel finds there is insufficient evidence to establish that state actors generally went to people’s homes or places of work to attack them.

[27]     Taking all of the above into consideration, the panel finds that the claimants have not established that the attack upon the principal claimant and his father was perpetrated by people with political motives. Their motives are unknown. Their identities and affiliations are unknown. As such, the panel cannot find that the claimants are Convention refugees or persons in need of protection based on this attack by unknown persons with unknown motivations.

Political Opinion – Principal Claimant

[28]     The principal claimant testified about some protests he attended, and his political views regarding Angola. While the panel did take some negative inferences as to his credibility as noted above, he was able to express his political views at the hearing. He was also able to testify about attending protests in Luanda and the reactions of police during those protests. In that regard, the panel found him to be forthright and he testified with a sufficient level of detail. The panel accepts that he attended anti-government protests in Angola, and that he has a political opinion that opposes the ruling regime.

[29]     The objective country documentation9 states that 2017 saw nearly five times the level of protest that was seen during the last election year, 2012. Dissidence was suppressed: protesters and journalists were often imprisoned. On August 12, 2017, demonstrations by groups not running for election were banned. Nevertheless, protests continued to grow, with thousands of people protesting throughout the country in June 2017 for free and fair elections, without notable incidents.10

[30]     The constitution and law provide for the right of peaceful assembly, and the government increasingly respected this right.11 Nonpartisan groups intending to criticize the government or government leaders, however, often encountered the presence of police who prevented them from holding the event. Usually authorities claimed the timing or venue requested was problematic or that the proper authorities had not received notification. Police were at times reported to have fired into the crowd during protests or used force to disperse them. The government at times arbitrarily restricted the activities of associations it considered subversive by refusing to grant permits for organized activities.12 It was also reported to have dispersed grassroots anti-government gatherings with violence, subjecting participants and organizers to arrest.13

[31]     On the other hand, authorities generally permitted opposition parties to organize and hold meetings. Individuals reported practicing self-censorship but generally were able to criticize government policies without fear of direct reprisal. Social media was widely used in the larger cities and provided an open forum for discussion.14

[32]     The objective documentation, as well as the country documents presented by the claimants, indicate that sometimes the government of Angola openly represses its people’s ability to express their political opinions. It does not do so in a systematic way; individuals can have open discussions about their political views in person and on social media. Self-censorship occurs, however, and the preponderance of the objective documentation indicates that protesters are often arrested in Angola and peaceful, non-partisan gatherings intended to be critical of government are regularly disrupted by police. It is telling that the Freedom House report15 considers the fact that Angolans are increasingly willing to express their political opinions in private as a significant step forward.

[33]     Having considered all of the above, the panel finds the principal claimant’s testimony about the protests he attended and the police reaction to protesters to be reflected in the documentary evidence and thus, objectively supported. The situation is improving, but the ability to protest without fear of arrest or violence from police is restricted.

[34]     As such, the panel accepts that the principal claimant has a subjective fear of returning to Angola, based on his political opinion. He would be unable to protest peacefully in that country without fear of arrest or violence by police.

[35]     With regards to state protection, the panel notes that the state is the agent of persecution. The government is in control of its territory. Security forces in Angola enjoy impunity for violent acts committed against detainees, activists, and others.16 There is no effective protection against unjustified imprisonment, lengthy pretrial detention, extortion, or torture. Angolan prisons are reported to be overcrowded, unhygienic, lacking in basic necessities, and plagued by sexual abuse. There is clear and convincing evidence before the panel that state protection would not be forthcoming to the principal claimant in his particular circumstances.

[36]     As it relates to internal flight alternatives, there is no area of Angola where the principal claimant could protest peacefully without fear of reprisal. Therefore there is no internal flight alternative available to him in his particular circumstances.

Associated and Minor Claimants

[37]     The panel sympathies with the difficult situation that the associated and minor claimants are in. The associated claimant has XXXX XXXX17 and is undergoing XXXX XXXX treatment.18 The minor claimant is in the care of her mother, though the principal claimant is currently still in her life.

[38]     This is a split decision. The principal claimant has a political opinion that puts him at risk of persecution. However, the claimants have not established that it was his political opinion that has lead to the attack on him and his father. They have not established a forward-looking risk, relating to the persons responsible for the attack on the principal claimant, to himself or the associated claimants, nor has any nexus or personalized risk been established for the associated claimants. Therefore, the panel finds that the principal claimant has established his claim but the associated claimants have not.

[39]     In short, the adult claimants are separated and they have not established that the principal claimant’s political opinion will cause the remaining claimants problems in Angola.

[40]     The panel considered whether the associated claimant’s medical conditions might warrant the granting of her claim for protection. The medical information19 provided indicates that she was diagnosed with XXXX XXXX in Angola and eventually received treatment for the condition. Similarly, though she was XXXX with XXXX in Canada, the documentation and submissions of counsel regarding XXXX treatment20 in Angola indicate that she can obtain treatment in Luanda, where she formerly worked and resided.

[41]     The claimants have not advanced allegations that she would be denied treatment in Angola based on a Convention ground. Similarly they have not alleged that she faces a risk based on her medical conditions, which is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate health or medical care. Having reviewed the information on file, the panel finds that the claimants have not established a risk to the associated claimant in Angola based on her medical conditions under sections 96 or 97(1) of the IRPA.

[42]     Under these circumstances, the panel finds the associated claimant has not established, on a balance of probabilities, that she or the minor claimant face a risk of harm, that is, a reasonable chance of persecution in regard to s. 96 of the IRPA, or, a likelihood of the harm that is set out in s. 97(1) of the IRPA, should they return to Angola.


[43]     The panel concludes that the principal claimant XXXX XXXX XXXX is a Convention refugee, on the basis of his political opinion.

[44]     Having considered all of the evidence, the panel finds that there is not a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground should the associated and minor claimants return to Angola, or that, on a balance of probabilities, they would be personally subjected to a danger of torture or face a risk to life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

[45]     The panel concludes that the associated claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and minor claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, are not Convention refugees or persons in need of protection. Therefore, their claims are rejected.

(signed)           R. JACKSON  

May 8, 2019

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, as amended.

Refugee Protection Division Rules (SOR/2012-256).

3 Exhibit 11.

4 Exhibit 6.

5 Exhibit 10, letter with translation pp 104-110.

6 Exhibit 14.

7 Exhibit 10.

8 Exhibit 6.

9 Exhibit 15, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Angola (December 21, 2018), item 4.2.

10 Ibid., items 2.1 and 2.4.

11 Ibid., item 2.1.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid., item 2.4.

14 Ibid., items 2.1 and 2.4.

15 Ibid., item 2.4.

16 Ibid.

17 Exhibit 18, XXXX report for associated claimant.

18 Exhibits 20-21, Post-hearing submissions and documents.

19 Exhibit 18, XXXX report for associated claimant.

20 Exhibits 20-21, Post-hearing submissions and documents.