Categories
All Countries Eritrea

2019 RLLR 109

Citation: 2019 RLLR 109
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 26, 2019
Panel: Avril Cardoso
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Medhat Mary Ghobrial
Country: Eritrea
RPD Number: TB8-28669
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000176-000182


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       The claimant, [XXX] is seeking refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Act1.

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The claimant’s allegations are fully set out in her Basis of Claim form (BOC). In summary she alleges a fear of persecution in Eritrea at the hands of the government due to her anti¬≠government political opinion.

DETERMINATION

[3]       I find that the claimant is a Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 of the Act.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[4]       The claimant’s personal and national identity as a citizen of Eritrea has been established on a balance of probabilities by a true copy of her passport2 and national ID card.

Credibility

[5]       When a claimant swears that certain facts are true, this creates a presumption of truth unless there is valid reason to doubt their veracity.

[6]       The claimant’s testimony about her anti-government actual and imputed political opinion in Eritrea is consistent with her profile. His testimony was spontaneous and materially consistent with her narrative and supporting documents. The minor inconsistencies in the claimant’s evidence were not sufficient to overcome the credibility of her testimony and the documentary evidence.

The claimant and her spouse refused to join the ruling PFDJ party

[7]       The claimant testified that the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) which is the government in power sent her husband two letters in 2016 asking him to join the party. She said her husband refused and said he was too busy. The claimant said there was no further contact at that time from the PFDJ. She testified that in 2017, she was asked to join the women’s wing of the PFDJ. The claimant testified that the party sent her a letter. When asked why she did not provide a copy of the letter, she said she did not think about it.

[8]       I find that the claimant’s explanation is unreasonable. She is a business owner and the letter requiring her to join the PFDJ is regarding the central issue in her claim. However, the claimant’s testimony regarding the letters from the PFDJ sent to her and her husband is consistent with her BOC and there is no valid reason to doubt her credibility. Therefore corroborating documents are not necessary in these circumstances3.

The claimant is sought after by the PFDJ

[9]       The claimant testified that after she left Eritrea on [XXX] 2018 the authorities have searched her home, shut down her businesses and frozen her bank account. She testified that she obtained this information through her neighbour because her two daughters who were in Eritrea left the country in [XXX] 2018 and her husband was arrested on or about August 2018.

[10]     The claimant testified that the authorities left a document at her house. She said she asked her neighbour to send her a picture of the document but her neighbour did not do so and she believes her neighbour has since left Eritrea as she has been unable to contact her since approximately November 2018. When asked for any documents regarding her testimony that her bank account was frozen, she testified that she has nobody else left in Eritrea to contact and nobody is looking after her home and that her bank did not have a presence in Canada where she could obtain information about her bank account.

[11]     The claimant submitted a business licence and a letter from the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea in support of her testimony. The letter from the bank indicates that her bank balance as of May 17, 2018 was [XXX] Nakfa. In her BOC she stated that her bank account has a balance of [XXX] Nakfa. When asked to explain the discrepancy, the claimant said the letter was for her chequing account and her savings account had a balance [XXX] Nakfa. I find the claimant’s explanation unreasonable. The bank letter indicates that the account is a savings account not a chequing account. I draw a negative inference from the claimant’s explanation.

The claimant was of interest to the authorities prior to leaving Eritrea

[12]     The claimant testified that when she applied for an exit visa to leave Eritrea to come to Canada for her grandchild’s baptism, she was refused. She said her husband and his friends bribed immigration officials in Eritrea and she was able to obtain an exit visa on May 3, 2018 and she went to Kampala, Uganda to apply for a Canadian visa. This evidence demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that the claimant was of interest to the authorities as her exit visa request was denied and she left Eritrea through irregular means.

The claimant’s husband was detained since she left Eritrea

[13]     In the claimant’s BOC she states that one of her three daughters left Eritrea in 2014 after completing mandatory conscription and claimed refugee protection in Ethiopia. In her BOC she states that her husband was subsequently detained for six weeks at the Adi Abieto prison likely because the authorities believed he assisted his daughter in leaving Eritrea. She testified that after her neighbour told her that her husband had been arrested in approximately August 2018, her remaining two daughters managed to exit Eritrea when the border with Ethiopia opened in September 2018. The claimant submitted refugee documents in support of her testimony that all her three daughters are residing in Ethiopia. She testified that she has not been able to obtain any further information about her husband’s whereabouts. I find on a balance of probabilities that the claimant’s husband has been detained or arrested since she has come to Canada.

[14]     An unknown number of persons disappeared which are not investigated by the government. Nor are family members notified about the status of detainees and disappeared persons included those detained for political or religious beliefs4. Furthermore, although the law and unimplemented constitution prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, such acts remain widespread. Reasons for arrest include criticizing the government5.

Failure to claim in Uganda reasonably explained

[15]     The claimant arrived in Uganda on [XXX] 2018 and left Uganda for Canada on [XXX], 2018. When asked why she did not claim protection in Uganda, the claimant said she had a letter of invitation to come to Canada for her granddaughter’s baptism and went to Uganda to apply for her Canadian visa. I find the claimant’s explanation reasonable. She was in Uganda for a short period awaiting the issuance of her Canadian visa and she explained that she did not leave right away on [XXX] 2018 when her visa was issued as her ticket was for [XXX] 2018. There is no evidence that the Eritrean authorities were seeking the claimant at this time.

Delay in claiming for protection in Canada

[16]     After arriving in Canada on [XXX] 2018 the claimant filed for protection on October 31, 2018. When asked to explain the delay in claiming, the claimant testified that she had intended to return to Eritrea however once she heard her husband had been detained or arrested and that her house was searched and her bank accounts had been frozen, she decided to seek protection in Canada. I find the claimant’s explanation for the short delay to be reasonable and consistent with her other testimony.

Objective basis

[17]     Item 2.1 of the Eritrea NDP August 30, 20196 indicates that Eritrea is a highly centralized, authoritarian regime under the control of President Isaias Afwerki. The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), headed by the president, is the sole political party. Item 9.2 indicates that ordinary judicial procedures are not in place in Eritrea where the rule of law is absent. This document also indicates that in cases of a political nature summonses are not issued7.

[18]     The authorities are intolerant of dissent and those who fail to maintain loyalty to the one party ruling party risk imprisonment8.

[19]     Item 8.8 indicates that individuals forcefully repatriated are considered serious offenders and also traitors and are usually arrested upon return and face ill treatment to the point of torture. Item 14.2 indicates that persons who left Eritrea illegally could face interrogations, arrest and harsh punishments9.

[20]     The objective evidence is consistent with the claimant’s account of fearing persecution based on her political opinion in Eritrea.

[21]     I find that the claimant’s fear of persecution because of her actual and imputed anti¬≠ government political opinion has an objective basis and is well-founded.

State Protection

[22]     A state, unless in a condition of complete breakdown, is presumed to be capable of protecting its citizens. To rebut the presumption of state protection, a claimant must provide clear and convincing confirmation of the state’s inability to protect its citizens.

[23]     Given that the state is the agent of persecution and taking into account the objective evidence, I find that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimant to seek the protection of the state in her circumstances, and that adequate state protection would not be reasonably forthcoming.

Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)

[24]     Given that the state is the agent of persecution with control over the entire country, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Eritrea and therefore a viable IFA does not exist.

CONCLUSION

[25]     Having considered all of the evidence, I find that there is a serious possibility that the claimant would face persecution in Eritrea. I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee and I accept her claim.

(signed)           Avril Cardoso

November 26, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 as amended
2 Exhibit 1
3 Feride Celik Guven & Miray Guven v. The Minister Of Citizenship and Immigration, 2018 FC 38 at para. 37.
4 Exhibit 3, Item 2.5
5 Ibid. and Item 2.3
6 Exhibit 3
7 Exhibit 3, Item 9.2
8 Exhibit 3, Item 2.3
9 Exhibit 3, Item 14.2

Categories
All Countries Eritrea

2019 RLLR 103

Citation: 2019 RLLR 103
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 23, 2019
Panel: M. Dookun
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Esther Lexchin
Country: Eritrea
RPD Number: TB8-09739
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000145-000149


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       [XXX] (the claimant) is a 51-year old male citizen of Eritrea. He is seeking refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.1

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The specific details of this claim are set out in the claimant’s Basis of Claim (BOC) form2. In short, he fears persecution at the hands of the Eritrean government based on his Islamic religion and his objection to forced military conscription of himself and his children in Eritrea. He also fears repercussions from the Eritrean government for having made a refugee claim against Eritrea in Canada.

DETERMINATION

[3]       The panel has determined that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[4]       The claimant established his personal identity by way of the certified true copy of his Eritrean passport3.

Credibility

[5]       The claimant testified in a straightforward manner. He made no apparent attempts to embellish his testimony. There were no serious inconsistencies or contradictions inherent in his testimony. The panel has no serious reason to doubt that the sworn testimony of this claimant was truthful.

Well-Foundedness of Fear

Refugee Claim in Canada

[6]       The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that there is less than a mere possibility that the Eritrea government would know that the claimant made a refugee claim in Canada if he returned to Eritrea voluntarily due to the fact that he left Eritrea legally. The claimant testified that he enters and exits Eritrea regularly. He stated that the Eritrean government believes that he is a resident of Sudan who visits Eritrea voluntarily. That being so, he has never had problems entering Eritrea in the past. The panel finds that there is less than a mere possibility that the Eritrean authorities would question the claimant upon entry regarding whether or not he made a refugee claim in Canada.

Religion

[7]       The panel finds there is less than a mere possibility that this claimant would face persecution in Eritrea because of his Muslim religion. The claimant testified that there is no difference between the religion he practises and the state-sanctioned Islamic religion in Eritrea. The claimant was asked whether he had any problems practicing his religion while in Eritrea. He responded that he had no problems that related to him specifically. He was then asked what kind of problems he thought he would have if he returned to Eritrea now. He responded that he did not believe that there would be issues because of his specific beliefs. The panel thus finds based on the claimant’s own testimony that he would not face problems in Eritrea based on his religion.

Military Objection

[8]       That being said, the panel does find that the claimant could face problems in Eritrea because of his objection to military service. The documentary evidence4 states that by law all Eritrean citizens between ages 18 to 50 must perform national service. The claimant, at 51 years old, is past that age range. In addition, he has already performed and completed his mandatory military service.

[9]       However, in 2012 the Eritrean government created the “People’s Army”. The People’s Army is composed of citizens released from the national service as part of their open-ended national service. Eritreans up to 70 years of age can be conscripted into the People’s Army. Those who ignore the People’s Army conscription notices may face imprisonment.5

[10]     The claimant stated that he is opposed to carrying arms and opposed to serving the Eritrean regime in any manner. His refusal to cooperate may be seen as having a political opinion contrary to the Eritrean Government. This would place the claimant at risk should he return to Eritrea.

State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative

[11]     The panel finds that as the state authorities are the agents of persecution, there would be no state protection available to this claimant anywhere in Eritrea should he return. For the same reason, the panel also finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to this particular claimant anywhere in Eritrea.

CONCLUSION

[12]     To conclude, the panel finds on a balance of probabilities, based on his objection to military service, that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Eritrea based on his political opinion. As such the panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Refugee Protection Division accepts this claim.

(signed)           M. Dookun

October 23, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), S.C. 2001, c.27 as amended.
2 Exhibit 2.
3 Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 7.
4 Exhibit 3, item 2.1.
5 Exhibit 5, page 53.