Citation: 2020 RLLR 6
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 13, 2020
Panel: Kristelle De Rop
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Russell L Kaplan
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
RPD Number: MB7-18074
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000037-000043
REASONS FOR DECISION
 [XXX] (the claimant) is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and is claiming refugee protection under section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
 The claimant’s complete allegations are set out in his Basis of Claim Form (BOC Form).1 The following is a short summary.
 The claimant alleges that he joined a not-for-profit organization (NGO) entitled Congo Handicap in [XXX] 2013 as a [XXX].
 The claimant alleges that the NGO’s goals are to advocate and stand up for persons with disabilities in South Kivu and to fight against all crimes, including rape.
 The claimant states that, on [XXX], 2017, he was summoned to the national intelligence agency office (ANR), where he was detained and criticized for his involvement in a report exposing [XXX] who allegedly committed rape.
 The claimant alleges that he fears he will be arrested again and killed should he return to his country as a result of his involvement in the NGO and in published reports exposing [XXX].
 For the reasons set out below, the panel concludes that the claimant is a Convention refugee by reason of his imputed political opinion as a result of his involvement in an NGO that exposed military officers for their crimes against persons with disabilities.
 The claimant’s identity was established to the panel’s satisfaction by means of a copy of his passport issued by the Congolese authorities filed on the record.2
 The panel finds that the claimant was a credible witness. The panel did not identify any serious contradictions, omissions or inconsistencies that could not be reasonably explained during his testimony. The panel considers that the claimant gave credible testimony on the essential aspects of his claim. As a result, the panel believes that the claimant’s allegations in his BOC Form are truthful, on a balance of probabilities.
 The panel considers that the claimant gave credible testimony on his involvement and role in Congo Handicap and in reports exposing armed forces officers. The panel also considers that the claimant gave spontaneous and credible testimony on his and his parents’ detention at the ANR.
 The panel notes that the claimant submitted as evidence the following documents that corroborate his testimony: Congo Handicap membership card with proof of payment, [XXX] card, letters from the ANR, article from the awareness campaign held in [XXX] 2015, and a number of photographs taken at events related to his duties.3
 The claimant explained that, before his detention, he presented a detailed and complete dossier at his NGO’s quarterly meeting concerning cases of rape by officers in the DRC’s [XXX], the FARDC, including [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX] and [XXX]. He explained that his role in the NGO was to [XXX] in the community of persons with disabilities and to identify information likely to bring the culprits to justice.
 The claimant testified that [XXX] wanted to use him as a spy in his NGO and that he had an informer in his group and should be smart and accept the offer.
 While the claimant was already in Canada to attend a work-related conference, his brother called to inform him that a convoy of soldiers visited their home, that the soldiers were looking for him and that, after searching his room, they left with all his personal effects. The soldiers also took his parents away with them. After being detained for two days, his parents were released on a promise to report to the ANR every two weeks until the claimant returned home.
 The claimant testified that another report exposing cases of abuse and rape was supposed to be released when he returned from Canada in [XXX] and that the soldiers left with his information.
 The claimant also referred to the murder of Dr. [XXX]4 on [XXX], 2017. The claimant had worked with this [XXX] when persons with disabilities were raped and needed care. The claimant testified that the doctor’s cause of death was never disclosed. The claimant is convinced that the doctor was killed because of his involvement with victims and his possible possession of incriminating information regarding certain [XXX].
Change of circumstance
 At the hearing, the panel asked the claimant why he thought that he would be at risk should he return to the country, given the change in circumstances, namely, the election of the new president in January 2019. He explained that only the leader changed, but that all the rest remains unchanged. He stated, as an example, that the security service and police [XXX] remain the same. He added that the new president does not have a majority in either parliament or the serrate.
 The panel notes that, on December 30, 2018, Félix Tshisekedi, the leader of the UDPS party, was elected president. However, sources state that the transfer of real power is debatable. The former president Kabila is now Senator-for-Life, and his party won sweeping majorities in the parliament and provincial assemblies.5 Some contest the legitimacy of the elections.6 The post-election demonstrations turned violent, and the security forces responded with excessive force.7 The authorities are still being accused of political killings and arbitrary arrests. After Tshisekedi’s election, student demonstrations against power and water cuts and rising tuition fees led to an intervention in which the police shot and killed demonstrators.8
 The panel notes that the documentary evidence9 states that an [translation] “easing” of political tensions occurred. The same document states that the country had a [translation] “new openness,” that opposition radios reopened, that exiled politicians returned to the country and that political prisoners were released. However, the same evidence also states that, after the release of some political prisoners, human rights advocates were still waiting for the conditional release of the 700 prisoners who had been pardoned.10
 In light of the foregoing and in the claimant’s specific case, the panel concludes that the claimant would not be safe in the DRC, which remains unstable despite the recent change in government. The claimant stated that he would continue to face a risk since the same repressive structures remain in place and that, despite the change in leader, the situation remains unchanged. On the basis of the claimant’s testimony and the documentary evidence, the panel concludes that the claimant established that he faces a risk of persecution by reason of his imputed political opinion linked to his role and involvement in the NGO.
 In light of the objective evidence, the panel concludes that the presumption of state protection is rebutted. The claimant would not obtain adequate state protection in the DRC because the agents of persecution are part of the state.
 According to the objective documentary evidence, sources indicate that the state security forces, including the police, are undisciplined and corrupt.11 They are often accused of arbitrary, political and extrajudicial killings.12 State security forces are also accused of having weak leadership, low capacity and a lack of training and of engaging in extortion.13
 The panel concludes that the objective evidence constitutes clear and convincing evidence that rebuts the presumption of adequate state protection in the DRC for the claimant.
Internal flight alternative
 The panel also assessed whether the claimant had an internal flight alternative (IFA).
 In this case, the agents of persecution are state agents, namely, the Congolese government intelligence agency. According to the objective documentary evidence, people in situations similar to that of the claimant face the same difficulties throughout the country. The claimant has reason to fear the authorities because the police and military forces are present and in control throughout the country. The panel considers that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution throughout the DRC. As a result, the panel considers that it would be unreasonable to expect the claimant to return to the DRC.
 The panel therefore concludes that an IFA is not available to the claimant.
 In light of the foregoing and after reviewing all the evidence, the panel determines that the claimant, [XXX], has established that he faces a serious possibility of persecution in his country of origin, the DRC. Therefore, the refugee protection claim is allowed.
(signed) Kristelle De Rop
February 13, 2020
1 Document 2 – Basis of Claim Form.
2 Document 1 – Information package provided by the Canada Border Services Agency and/or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Claimant’s Congolese passport.
3 Document 5 – Evidence submitted by the claimant (exhibits 1 to 14).
4 Document 5 – Exhibits 12 and 13 (articles concerning the death of Dr. [XXX]).
5 Document 3 – National Documentation Package (NDP), Congo, Democratic Republic of the (DRC), July 31, 2019, Tab 4.3: Democratic Republic a/Congo: Background and US. Relations. United States. Congressional Research Service. April 30, 2019.
6 Document 3 – NDP, DRC, Tab 4.11: DR Congo: Post-Election Killings Test New President. Human Rights Watch. February 14, 2019.
9 Document 3 – NDP, Tab 4.2.
11 Document 3 – NDP on the DRC, March 29, 2019, Tab 2.1: Democratic Republic of the Congo. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. United States. Department of State. March 13, 2019.