All Countries Azerbaijan

2020 RLLR 71

Citation: 2020 RLLR 71
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 23, 2020
Panel: L. Bonhomme
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Hagan Turan
Country: Azerbaijan
RPD Number: TB8-07131
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-07141, TB8-07149, TB8-07150
ATIP Number: A-2021-00800
ATIP Pages: 000075-000081


[1]       The claimants, [XXX] aka [XXX] aka [XXX] and [XXX] are seeking refugee protection from Azerbaijan pursuant to ss. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”).[1]

[2]       [XXX] is the principal claimant and he is married to [XXX], the associate claimant. Their children are [XXX] and [XXX], the minor claimants. The principal claimant was appointed as the designated representative of the minor claimants.


[3]       The panel finds the claimants to be Convention refugees; in the case of the principal claimant, on the grounds of his political opinion and in the case of the associate and minor claimants, on the grounds of their imputed political opinion.


[4]       The details of the claimants’ allegations are more fully set out in the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim Form (“BOC”).[2] In short, the principal claimant is a member of Musavat, an opposition political party in Azerbaijan. The principal claimant has always been a supporter of democratic parties in Azerbaijan and was initially active in the Azerbaijan National Front Party. The principal claimant joined the Musavat party in 2012 and has been active in rallies and protests as both a participant and an organizer. He has been detained on three occasions over the course of his political activity and treated abusively by the police. Following the principal claimant’ s last release from detention in [XXX] 2018, the police continued to threaten him and his family and make demands for money. As a result, the claimants left Azerbaijan to Canada.

[5]       The claimants are fearful of returning to Azerbaijan as they fear detention and mistreatment by the authorities.



[6]       The claimants’ personal identities as citizens of Azerbaijan have been established by the principal claimant’s testimony and the certified true copies of their Azerbaijani passports and Canadian visas on file.[3]

[7]       The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimants are who they say they are and that the country of reference for them is Azerbaijan.


[8]       The determinative issue in this claim is credibility. In making this assessment, the panel has considered all the evidence, including the oral testimony and documentary evidence entered as exhibits as well as counsel’s submissions and post-hearing disclosure.

[9]       The principal claimant testified and was generally a credible witness. His evidence was consistent with the allegations in his BOC. The principal claimant provided spontaneous and detailed testimony in response to extensive questioning from the panel. He did not attempt to embellish his answers and admitted when a detail was unknown to him.

[10]     At the hearing, the principal claimant explained when and why he developed his political views and how they progressed to political activity, first with the Azerbaijan National Front Party and then with the Musavat party. He admitted there were periods of time when he was a passive member or not involved at all after the Azerbaijan National Front Party split into factions. The principal claimant convincingly described his political views and how they aligned with each party. In particular, he was able to describe the economic policies of the Musavat party and the proposed plan to address its economic vision. The principal claimant provided details of his own activities and identified various members of the party, including the circumstances surrounding a high-profile member’s prolonged wrongful detention. The principal claimant testified that he continues to pay membership dues to the party and to participate in rallies in Toronto in support of freeing political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

[11]     The claimants submitted the principal claimant’s membership cards from both the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party and the Musavat (Equality) Party.[4] As well, the claimants submitted a letter from the Vice-Chairman of the Musavat Party dated [XXX] 2018 confirming the principal claimant’s active participation in the party as an organizer and his resulting detention on two occasions.[5] The panel has no reason to doubt the veracity of these documents.

[12]     In response to questioning from his counsel, the principal claimant testified about his detention by the police and the circumstances surrounding each detention. He was able to adequately explain to the panel why he remained in Azerbaijan after the second detention where he was tortured and how he was able to leave days after his last release from detention. The claimants submitted several letters from family members who had first-hand knowledge of the principal claimant’s detentions by the police resulting from his political activities.[6] The claimants also submitted a progress report from the [XXX] the principal claimant has been seeing in Canada for treatment for his [XXX] related to the trauma he experienced in Azerbaijan.[7]

[13]     The panel finds that, on a balance of probabilities, the principal claimant is an active member of the Musavat party and that the principal claimant’s political activities are known to the authorities. Further, there is a serious possibility that the entire family may face detention and mistreatment by the authorities if they were to return to Azerbaijan.

[14]     Given the credible testimony by the claimant on issues going to the core of the claim, and the corroborating documentary evidence, the panel believes what the claimants have alleged in support of their claim and finds that their subjective fear of persecution on the basis of the principal claimant’s political opinion and the associate and minor claimants’ imputed political opinion is established, on a balance of probabilities.

Objective Basis

[15]     Multiple sources in the National Documentation Package for Azerbaijan report numerous instances of state sanctioned violence and repression of dissenting political opinion.

[16]     According to the United States Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Azerbaijan for 2019:

Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killing; torture; arbitrary detention; harsh and sometimes life-threatening prison conditions; political prisoners; arbitrary interference with privacy; pervasive problems with the independence of the judiciary; heavy restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence against journalists, the criminalization of libel, harassment and incarceration of journalists on questionable charges, and blocking of websites; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; restrictions on freedom of movement; refoulement of refugees to a country where they would face a threat to their life or freedom; severe restrictions on political participation; systemic government corruption; police detention and torture of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals; and the worst forms of child labor, which the government made minimal efforts to eliminate.

The government did not prosecute or punish most officials who committed human rights abuses; impunity remained a problem.[8]

[17]     According to this same source, police summoned more than one hundred members of the Musavat Party around the country to police stations and warned them not to participate in a planned unsanctioned picket scheduled for November 12. On November 12, police prevented the picket from taking place, including by deploying large numbers of officers blocking roads and detaining dozens of party members who attempted to assemble. The government released those who had tried to gather after several hours, with the exception of one organizer who was sentenced to fifteen days of administrative detention.

[18]     This was consistent with reports that many administrative detentions are politically motivated, and authorities ignore provisions in the law for fair trials. The case of a Musavat activist, Azad Hasan, is cited as an example of a trial unjustifiably delayed as judges were purportedly waiting for instructions from the Presidential Administration for months after evidence was submitted before ruling.[9]

[19]     Police are reported to have intimidated, harassed, and sometimes arrested family members of political opposition members. Authorities fired individuals from their jobs or had individuals fired in retaliation for the political or civic activities of family members inside or outside the country.[10]

[20]     Based on the country conditions disclosed in the National Documentation Package, the panel finds the claimants’ fear of return to Azerbaijan to have an objective basis. The claimants have established a well-founded fear of persecution in Azerbaijan.

State protection and internal flight alternative

[21]     States are presumed to be capable of protecting their own citizens, except in situations where the state is in a state of complete breakdown. To rebut the presumption of state protection, a claimant has to provide clear and convincing evidence of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect its citizens.

[22]     The panel finds that in this case, the state is the agent of persecution and therefore there is no state protection or viable internal flight alternative available to the claimants. The country information is clear and convincing evidence that rebuts the presumption that adequate state protection is available to the claimants in Azerbaijan.


[23]     Based on the totality of the evidence, the panel finds the claimants to be Convention Refugees and therefore their claim is accepted.

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

[2] Exhibit 2: Basis of Claim Form (BOC) TB8-07131.

[3] Exhibit 1: Package of information from the referring CBSA/CIC.

[4] Exhibit 7: Claimants’ disclosure (personal documents) received December 4, 2018.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Exhibit 8: Claimants’ disclosure (personal document) received August 18, 2020. 

[8] Exhibit 3: Index of national document package for Azerbaijan — June 30, 2020 version, Item 2.1. 

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.