Citation: 2019 RLLR 113
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 8, 2019
Panel: Miryam Milgot
RPD Number: VB7-01166
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000201-000205
 PRESIDING MEMBER: This is the decision in file VB7-01166. It is the claim of Mr. [XXX]. The hearing took place on July 8, 2019, and the claimant was represented by counsel, Mr. Odaro Omonuwa. This was a return from the Refugee Appeal Division as the claimant had previously been denied on his refugee claim by a differently constituted Refugee Protection Division panel back in 2017.
 I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case and I’m ready to render my decision orally. When you receive a written form of these Reasons, they may be edited for spelling, syntax and grammar and references to the applicable case law and documentary evidence may also be included.
 The claimant, Mr. [XXX], claims to be a citizen of Djibouti and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee as the claimant does have a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground in Djibouti. The nexus is his political opinion as a [XXX] of the RADDE Party, RADDE being the Rally for Action Democracy and Ecological Development and his claim was established on a sur place ground as the testimony focused entirely on the question of his political activity since leaving Djibouti. The testimony did not examine the allegations as they relate to the claimant’s life before he left Djibouti for Canada. The main issue is credibility.
 The claimant’s national identity has been established by the testimony and the supporting documentation filed and entered in these proceedings. The current passport is on file, along with other documents. I am satisfied of the cm’s identity.
 I found the claimant to be a credible witness. He was able to reasonably explain why he had not amended his Basis of Claim Form sooner in his process. His explanations had to do with the lack of support that he had received up until very recently and that focused on the interpretation help he had at the time of the filing of his Basis of Claim Form, the limited and casual help that he had from a friend after that and what he described as deficient legal assistance up until recently, when he retained Counsel Omonuwa.
 The three-page Basis of Claim Form amendment was accepted today and I note in finding that the claimant’s explanations were credible that although some of the amendments were material to the allegations, such as a specific detention in Djibouti or how the claimant was able to leave the airport. Others were much less material, such as the correct date of birth of his parents or the vast number of siblings, only two of whom play a part in his Basis of Claim Form.
 I find that the claimant was credibility established that he is a [XXX] of the RADDE group. He testified in a manner consistent with that. At Exhibit 5 he has provided documentary evidence in support of this. He was able to spontaneously testify on what has happened to the President of the RADDE in recent years and I note that his demeanour while testifying on these matters was notably relaxed, which went toward my favourable appreciation of his credibility. He did not have the body language of someone who was fabricating evidence.
 I chose to focus on the sur place aspect of the claim as I found it was an efficient way of dealing with the vast material on file and the fact that this is now his second hearing and his insinuation that he was inadequately represented until he returned Counsel Omonuwa. His testimony on his political activities in Canada consisted of regular, but limited, due to restricted availability, and activities on Facebook where the claimant follows the posts of his political group and then shares those postings with other Djiboutians, who then to go on to share it with yet other people. The claimant was able to credibly explain who he shared this with and how he knew that they, in tum, shared it with others.
 The claimant did not provide direct proof of his Facebook activities in this regard, but I believe him when he says he did post those opinions by sharing his party’s posts as I found that his testimony on this was credible and his testimony on the fact that he is terribly busy as he works an awful lot in order to support his six children and his wife, all of whom are in Djibouti, makes sense to me in terms of explaining why he has not taken the time to provide direct proof of this and I’ll note that his counsel, Mr. Omonuwa, had only been very recently retained, less than two weeks ago.
 The claimant had already disclosed at Exhibit 8, page 2, a letter in support of his claim (indiscernible) submitting in his appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division. It is a letter in French issued by the Djiboutian Women for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The organization is UDDESC (phonetic) and it seems to add civil and political rights among those in its letterhead. The claimant did not embellish by alleging that he knew everything that was in this letter, but he was able to credibly testify as to how he obtained the letter, stating that he had contacted his group, the RADDE, who had given him the name of this person who, according to him, is in Belgium, and that he had contacted this person and the letter is consistent with the claimant’s oral testimony today and the letter does state that he is continuing his fight on social media. So I give weight to this letter in support of the claimant’s allegations. I note that the reason for the claimant’s lack of in-person political activity since he arrived in Canada has to do with the fact that his group, the RADDE, does not have an office or physical presence in Canada or North America and that is consistent with the objective country conditions evidence before me.
 I find that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution based on the specific evidence of his Facebook activity and his continuing interest in the RADDE group. The monitoring of social media by Djiboutian authorities is established via the United States Department of State Report for Djibouti, which is at item 2.1 of the National Documentation Package, as well as in the Freedom House Report, which is at item 2.3 of the National Documentation Package, which is at Exhibit 3.
 Both these documents also contribute to establishing the targeting and persecution of members of the opposition through the form of the surveillance of perceived opponents and harassment and arbitrary detention. Just to stay with the question of the monitoring of social media, the United States Department of State Report at item 2.1 explains that personnel from the security forces arrested two men in separate instances for posting (indiscernible) criticizing the government on Facebook and that one of them was arrested again for publishing a post on Facebook that criticized the government’s decision to mandate school uniforms for public schools.
 This targeting of opposition members takes the form of seizing of passports or refusal to renew passports. The claimant testified that the president of his party had significant and enduring problems with his passport. That is borne out by the objective country conditions evidence and the Department of State Report on Human Rights also indicates that opposition members reported immigration officials refused to renew their passports and prevented them from boarding international flights.
 In terms of the fate that awaits the claimant, I note that the Freedom House Report states that in April 2018, so relatively recently, a human rights defender, [XXX], who is also the [XXX] of an unrecognized opposition movement called Movement for Development and Liberty, was arbitrarily detained and had his passport confiscated and his home searched upon return U.N. related human rights activities abroad. I note that the claimant’s group, the RADDE, has also not been officially registered in Djibouti in spite of having attempted regularly to be registered and the authorities of Djibouti refuse to do so.
 There is further evidence of relatively recent targeting of the RADDE group. For example, in the Freedom House Report it says that in March 2018 the police raided the headquarters of the unrecognised group RADDE, confiscated their equipment and arrested one person as the party was preparing non-violent demonstrations. The U.S. Department of State Report has stated government authorities refused to renew the passport of opposition leader of the RADDE.
 The U.S. Department of State Report states that the Ministry of Interior refused to recognize three opposition political parties, among them the RADDE, and that members of those political parties were routinely arrested and detained for illegal political activity and that on March 23, 2018, authorities arrested a security guard at an annex of the RADDE opposition party and he was detained for one day and released with instructions to evacuate the space and that the youth delegate for the RADDE Party, a man called [XXX] was arrested on October 21 and remained detained.
 So I find that there’s objective country condition evidence to establish that, as a returnee, a supporter of the RADDE who has posted information on Facebook or forwarded or shared information on Facebook that is critical of the Djiboutian government and that was produced by a group that the government continues to refuse to recognize and the government regularly targets, the claimant has established a well-founded fear of persecution. I note that arbitrary arrests and detain amount to persecution, as is the confiscation of one’s passport or refusal to renew the passport as a result of political opinion.
 That leads me to the last two questions, state protection and internal flight alternative. Given that the alleged agent of persecution is the state, I find that state protection in Djibouti would not be particularly forthcoming in this case and that the presumption of state protection is rebutted by the objective country conditions evidence. As the Djiboutian state is in control of the entire territory of Djibouti, I find that there is no internal flight alternative for the claimant and that he faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Djibouti.
 In conclusion, having considered all of the evidence, I determine that there is a serious possibility that the claimant would be persecuted in Djibouti for his political opinion. The claimant was credible. Having come to this conclusion, I have not conducted further assessment under section 97(1). I conclude that the claimant is a Convention refugee and I therefore accept his claim.
— DECISION CONCLUDED