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All Countries Hungary

2020 RLLR 54

Citation: 2020 RLLR 54
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 21, 2020
Panel: Hazelyn Ross
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Marko Vitorovich
Country: Hungary
RPD Number: TB0-11379
Associated RPD Number(s): TB0-11378, TB0-11380, TB0-11381
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000159-000170


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is a redetermination of the claim for Convention refugee protection made by [XXX], principal claimant, [XXX] (wife), [XXX], (minor claimant), and [XXX]. The claimants are citizens of Hungary who seek protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)1 on the basis of their Roma ethnicity.

[2]       Their claims for protection were initially heard jointly with those of the [XXX] family and a decision rendered in 2011. On an application for judicial review, Hughes, J. returned the matter to the Board for redetermination, on the ground that the Refugee Protection Division (the RPD) had made erroneous credibility findings and had failed to deal adequately with the issue of state protection. Hughes, J. also ordered that the claims of the two families be severed.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimants rely on the allegations in the narrative portion of the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim, (BOC)2. The following is a summary of those allegations.

•           That they are Roma, and readily recognised as such by their physical appearance and mode of dress;

•           They have suffered severe discrimination and harassment in their native Hungary, which discrimination and harassment started in school and has been lifelong;

•           They have been abused by the Hungarian police with the harassment growing worse during the 1990’s;

•           Hungarian Guard and skinheads attack them and other Roma frequently;

•           During an attack on [XXX] 1995, the wife was beaten so severely that she [XXX];

•           In the fall of 1996 a group of 4-5 skinheads attacked the principal claimant at his home. The attackers dragged him outside, where they beat him. They set fire to his home. They also beat his neighbours. The claimants went to the police but were told that the police would not help;

•           While the atmosphere was calmer during the 2000’s, between [XXX] 2005 and [XXX] 2009, the claimants were victims of a number of anti-Roma incidents. Their family members and friends were also victims of anti-Roma discrimination and violence. The principal claimant was kept naked in a cell for three days.

•           In [XXX] 2006, police arrested and detained the principal claimant on suspicion of theft as he was going to visit his wife after she had [XXX]. The police accused him of stealing the items he was taking to her. He was detained for three days. When he was released, he was asked whether he wished to file a complaint against the arresting officers. He provided the badge numbers of the officers who arrested and interrogated him, but was told that those badge numbers did not exist.

•           In [XXX] 2009, the wife and the principal claimant were returning home from a movie when the police stopped them for an identification check. The wife was let go, but the principal claimant was again detained for three days. His clothes were taken from him and he was kept naked for the entire three days. He was beaten during the first night and interrogated over the next two days of his detention, all with the intention of making him confess to crimes. When he was released, he was asked whether he wanted to make a complaint about his detention, however, when he said he wanted to, the officer asked him to consider it carefully as they [the police] would look into his family (a veiled threat).

•           The claimants made the decision to leave Hungary in [XXX] 2009, but before they could do so, they were victims of several serious incidents. On [XXX], 2010 Hungarian Guards attacked the wife and her mother while they were in town. The wife suffered injury to her head, arms, and legs. When they tried to make a complaint, the officer on duty accused the principal claimant of beating the wife and ordered the claimants to leave the police station.

•           In [XXX] 2009, Hungarian Guards violently invaded the claimants’ home, forcing them to flee. The Guards tried to set fire to the home, but the claimants re-entered the home and were able to douse the fire before it could spread.

•           All attempts to seek police protection proved futile, as each and every time they turned to the police, the police refused to assist them.

DETERMINATION

[4]       For the following reasons, the panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees.

ANALYSIS

The Claimant’s Evidence

[5]       At the hearing, both adult claimants gave extensive oral testimony about the major incidents that prompted them to leave Hungary. They testified that they are readily identified as Roma persons by their physical appearance. As a result, the wife has been subjected to numerous random attacks while out on the street, which attacks she blamed on the reluctance of the white Hungarian population to accept the Roma. The principal claimant testified that he is readily identified as a Roma person by the shape of his face, his large nose and the colour of his skin. As a result, he has had trouble finding work and was attacked at least twice a month. He spoke of mistrust when he was out in the public sphere that culminated in him being falsely arrested and accused of theft in [XXX] 2006.

[6]       When she was asked what prompted the family to leave Hungary, the wife responded that the turning point was the home invasion of [XXX] 2009.

The Major Incidents

[7]       In assessing the wife’s oral testimony about the major incidents in the claim, the panel finds that overall her testimony was not credible and trustworthy because much of that testimony was exaggerated or unsubstantiated. This was particularly true of her testimony respecting her experience with the medical field.

The Wife’s Experiences with the medical system

[8]       The wife submitted medical reports that show that she had [XXX]. She alleged that the only reason she had the [XXX] was because the doctor who performed the previous [XXX] was negligent. She attributed his alleged negligence to her Roma ethnicity. She testified that he was silent when she confronted him with his negligence. The wife interpreted the doctor’s silence as proof that she was correct in her assumptions.

[9]       The panel gives little weight to this part of the wife’s testimony because it is internally inconsistent and contradicted by the medical reports she submitted. The medical report shows that the wife suffered from [XXX] and underwent [XXX] to address her condition. The first was in [XXX] 2000; and the second in 2006. The 2006 [XXX] was required because her condition had returned.3 When the panel gave the wife the opportunity to respond to the content of the medical reports, she asserted that she had only [XXX]. This response is inconsistent with her earlier testimony that she had [XXX] for the same condition, one of which was unnecessary and was entirely due to the doctor’s negligence and anti-Roma sentiment, a position she maintained throughout the hearing.

[10]     The panel is not an expert in any discipline of medicine, therefore, it is unable to attribute, as the wife did, that the [XXX] in 2006 was a) unnecessary, and b) occasioned only by the doctor’s racism. Further, given the inconsistency between the medical report and the wife’ s assertions that there were [XXX]; and her later denial that there had been a [XXX], the panel finds that her allegations that the doctor was negligent in his treatment of her condition because he harbored racist sentiment towards the Roma are neither credible nor trustworthy.

[11]     The wife also alleged medical misconduct when she gave [XXX]. She claimed that the staff forced her to [XXX], when, due to her prior [XXX], she was supposed to [XXX] section. She testified that she brought this to the staff’s attention, who ignored her. Instead the medical staff performed tests designed to [XXX] and forced her to [XXX] “then and there’. In her view, the medical personnel did not act in a professional way and wanted her to suffer because she was Roma.

[12]     For the following reasons, the panel rejects these allegations. The medical report regarding this event lists the following diagnosis: [XXX]

[13]     The medical report regarding this event sets out the circumstances of the wife’s [XXX] as:

“she got registered into our department following the [XXX] and the [XXX] got organised at [XXX] with a [XXX]. In regards to the previous [XXX] removal, to the [XXX] that is involved into the [XXX] and the prolonged period of time the [XXX] was completed with [XXX]; as a result of which a [XXX] without any complications … “4

[14]     The panel interpreted this portion of the medical report to be saying that the wife went into [XXX]. That she suffered from [XXX] and that due to additional medical complications relating to her previous [XXX] and the length of [XXX], a decision was made to [XXX]. When the panel gave the wife the opportunity to respond to its interpretation of the medical report, she reiterated her claim that, due to her Roma ethnicity, the medical personnel forced her to [XXX] over her protestations. She maintained that as she was present at the time she was in a good position to assess how the staff acted towards her. In response to her counsel, she testified that during the [XXX] she was diagnosed with [XXX] and that her doctor had told her that it would be better for her to have a [XXX] so that they do not burst.

[15]     While not disputing the wife’s subjective appreciation of the attitude of the medical staff, the panel is unable to find, as she suggested, that anti-Roma racism was the reason for the medical actions that were taken. It is clear that the wife felt that because of her earlier [XXX] she could not or should not have to [XXX]. No objective medical evidence was provided on this point, and, without additional information, the panel is unable to find, as the wife asserts, that the medical decisions taken by the staff were motivated solely by anti-Roma racism. The panel gives little weight to the wife’s testimony regarding the medical treatment she received when [XXX].

The October 2009 Home Invasion

[16]     The claimants allege that in [XXX] 2009 Hungarian Guards entered their home in an unprovoked attack. The wife testified that they entered through the window. As the Guards came in, the family fled through the back door. She testified that as they fled, she looked back. She noticed that the Guards were not following them and were, in fact, leaving. The family returned to the house and on entering noticed that the Guards had started a fire using some of the family’s clothing. They put the fire out. The principal claimant corroborated the wife’s account but added that the fire did not spread because the Guards had used their damp clothes to start the fire.

[17]     While the description of the attack aligns with the claimants’ general allegations as well as with the claims of Roma claimants, generally, for the following reasons the panel finds that the claimants’ account of the incident is not credible and trustworthy.

[18]     According to the claimants the incident was relatively brief. The Guards came in through the window, the claimants fled through the back door, the Guards started a fire; they left and the claimants returned home. The panel is not prepared to accept that the Guards would use damp clothes to start a fire; even, if they did, the panel is not prepared to accept that their attempt would yield a fire that the claimants would be forced to put out. The panel is of the view that this is not what could reasonably be expected in those circumstances and, therefore, the credibility of the claimants’ testimony regarding the [XXX] 2009 home invasion is seriously undermined. The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the alleged home invasion did not occur.

The Other Incidents

[19]     The claimants alleged that following an attack on [XXX] 1995 the wife suffered a [XXX] as a result of the injuries she received. No independent evidence was put forward that could link the alleged [XXX] to an attack by Hungarian guards. Further, the wife’s testimony about the [XXX] mises concerns that the panel has not been able to resolve in her favour. She testified that while she went to the hospital because she felt pain, the only procedure that was carried out was a [XXX] that she testified was done at her urging. She received no other medical treatment, even though the doctor told her that the [XXX].

[20]     The panel finds that, notwithstanding the allegation that Roma women are routinely discriminated against in hospital, the events described by the wife are not in keeping with what might reasonably be expected where a [XXX] woman attends hospital complaining of with abdominal pain. Given that a [XXX] was in fact performed, the panel is not persuaded that the wife received discriminatory treatment amounting to persecution when she [XXX].

The [XXX] 2010 Incident

[21]     The claimants alleged that shortly before the wife came to Canada, Hungarian Guards attacked her and her mother. This incident allegedly took place on [XXX] 2010. The wife claimed to have suffered injury to her arms and legs. She testified that she received no assistance from either the police or the doctors. Photographs of her bruises were tendered as part of Exhibit 115. The wife testified that the Immigration Officer who interviewed them advised her to take the photographs. The photographs were the only supporting documentation respecting the alleged incident. The panel is aware of the presumption of truthfulness that attaches to the wife’s sworn testimony, however, in light of its prior credibility findings, and absent any supporting documents that originated in Hungary, the panel is unable to draw any inferences or make any findings regarding the injuries and the alleged incident because the photographs cannot tell the circumstances under which the injuries were sustained.

[22]     While the panel does not dispute that the wife, as a Roma person, has experienced discriminatory treatment in Hungary, given the credibility concerns that the panel has not been able to resolve in her favour, the panel finds that the wife has not met her onus to establish, on a balance of probabilities, that she faces a serious possibility of persecution if returned to Hungary. The panel finds that the wife is not a Convention refugee. For the same reason, the panel finds that she has not established that she is a person in need of protection.

The Principal Claimant

[23]     The principal claimant testified that he was readily identified as a Roma person by his appearance, specifically his large nose. The panel places little reliance on this claim, nonetheless, it finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the principal claimant’s association with his wife and her family and residence in a Roma area would likely cause him to be perceived as being Roma, which in turn leaves him open to the type of discriminatory treatment accorded to Roma persons in Hungary. Having made this finding, the panel examined the principal claimant’s allegations of persecution. His allegations centred around two incidents. In both incidents the police arrested and detained him for seventy-two hours before releasing him without charge. The documentary evidence indicates that this is common practice in Hungary.

[24]     The first incident occurred in 2006, shortly after the wife [XXX]. The principal claimant testified that he was on his way to the hospital to visit her. He was taking her some supplies she needed, things like shampoo and sanitary napkins. On his way to the hospital the police stopped him. The officers accused him of stealing the items, a charge he denied. The police took him to the police station, where he was detained for seventy-two hours before being released without charges. During this period the police questioned and beat the principal claimant. For the three days he was detained, his family did not know where he was.

[25]     The second incident occurred in [XXX] 2009. The principal claimant testified that when the police arrested him, they told him that they were looking for him because he was charged with theft. At the police station he was stripped of his clothes, and in his words “given dirty rags”. But for these rags he was naked. He remained naked throughout the three days of his detention. The principal claimant testified that he was humiliated during the three days he was detained stating that “it was unnatural the way they humiliated me”. Asked to explain what he meant he replied that he did not want to do in front of the female claimants. Later on he would testify that since coming to Canada and finding work here, he feels like a man again.

[26]     The principal claimant was rather emotional while he was giving this testimony, however, he would not elaborate on his experience during detention. He testified that in 2013 he was assessed by a [XXX], who recommended that he join a support group and that he could benefit from [XXX].6 In fact, the principal claimant was found to have a score of [XXX].7 The principal claimant testified that he did not follow up on these treatment recommendations largely because of financial difficulty. Nonetheless, he testified that if returned to Hungary he would likely break down again.

[27]     While the panel is cautious of medical [XXX] reports that state that the only way that claimants can recover from their [XXX] and other health issues is for them to remain in Canada, it found that the principal claimant presented his testimony, which centred mainly on these two incidents and an incident in a public park, in a straightforward manner and without any seeming attempt at subterfuge. For this reason, the panel accepts the finding of the [XXX] that the principal claimant has suffered or [XXX], which likely stems from his experiences while detained.

[28]     Further, based on the principal claimant’s demeanour while testifying about the second detention, the panel accepts that he was mistreated as he alleged. The documentary evidence indicates that Roma persons are often mistreated while they are in custody.8 Given these statements in the documentary evidence, the panel’s findings respecting his perceived Roma identity as well as the principal claimant’s testimony respecting the mistreatment he received at the hands of the police, the panel finds that, if returned to Hungary, there is a serious possibility that the police would continue to arrest and harass the principal claimant. Further, the panel finds that such continued harassment is treatment that would amount to persecution.

State Protection

[29]     As the police are the agents of persecution, the panel finds that it is not likely that state protection would be available to the principal claimant. For these reasons, the panel finds that he is a Convention refugee.

The Minor Claimant

[30]     On the behalf of the minor claimant it was advanced by both the adult claimants and their counsel that he would be persecuted if he were to return to Hungary. They posited that the minor claimant would be denied adequate schooling and that he would suffer the same discriminatory treatment that all Roma face in Hungary. Segregated schooling for Roma children is well documented.9 However, this is not a situation that the now [XXX] years old minor claimant has ever faced, and there was little persuasive evidence before the panel that the minor claimant who has had the benefit of being educated in the Ontario school system will likely face segregated schooling if returned to Hungary.

[31]     It was also argued that the minor claimant was not sufficiently proficient in the Hungarian language to allow him to attend a Hungarian school. The panel is not persuaded by this argument because there was no independent evidence of the minor claimant’s proficiency in the Hungarian language put before it that could allow the panel to make such a conclusion. What is evident is that he is reliant on his parents for support. The panel has already found that the principal claimant is a Convention refugee and by virtue of family membership and his dependency on the principal claimant, the panel finds that the minor claimant is also a Convention refugee.

[XXX]

[32]     [XXX] is the wife’s mother. She claims to have experienced lifelong discrimination and harassment in Hungary. She relies on the principal claimant’s narrative, which states that she was with the wife on [XXX] 2010 when Guardists attacked them. Unlike the wife, no photographs were tendered to support this claim. The panel has already found that there was insufficient credible evidence before it to allow it to find that Guardists attacked the wife on [XXX] 2010 and for the same reasons it is unable to find that [XXX] was also attacked on that date.

[33]     In so far as [XXX] relies on the claims of the principal claimant, the panel’s adverse credibility findings respecting these claims also apply to her. The panel is aware that, as a Roma person in Hungary and as indicated in the documentary evidence, [XXX] likely faced many acts of discrimination during her lifetime. Nonetheless, she has not put forward sufficient credible and trustworthy evidence to allow the panel to conclude that the acts of discrimination had risen to the level of persecution. For this reason the panel finds that she has not made out her claim to be a Convention refugee.

Family Membership

[34]     Notwithstanding, its findings respecting the wife, and [XXX] the panel considered whether there is a serious possibility that they would face persecution as family members of the principal claimant. It has concluded that, on a balance of probabilities, they are likely to do so because of the targeting of the principal claimant by the police in their neighbourhood. Accordingly, the panel finds that the wife, the minor claimant, and [XXX] are Convention refugees.

CONCLUSION

[35]     [XXX] claimed protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the IRPA on the basis of their Roma ethnicity. Having considered their claims, the Refugee Protection Division finds that they are Convention refugees.

[36]     Pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA, their claims are accepted.

(signed)           H. Ross

July 21, 2020

1 The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), S.C. 2001, c.27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Exhibit 2, Basis of Claim forms (BOC).
3 Exhibit 15, p. 55.
4 Exhibit 15, p. 61.
5 Exhibit 11.
6 Exhibit 12.
7 Ibid.
8 Exhibit 6, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Hungary, version 31 March 2020, Item 2.1.
9 Ibid.

Categories
All Countries Hungary

2019 RLLR 60

Citation: 2019 RLLR 60
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 14, 2019
Panel: M. Somers
Counsel for the claimant(s): John W. Grice
Country: Hungary
RPD Number: TB8-09172
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-09218, TB8-09231, TB9-11 756
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000145-000150


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: The Board is prepared to render a decision orally based on the testimony of the claimants, as well as, other documentary evidence that has been filed in this matter.

[2]       The claimants, a family, the principal claimant, [XXX] (the principal claimant), his wife, [XXX] (wife) and their minor daughter, [XXX] (daughter) and the principal claimant’s mother …

[3]       Did I get something wrong, Madame Interpreter, the names?

[4]       INTERPRETER: [XXX] is the wife, the common-law wife.

[5]       MEMBER: Okay. Thank you.

[6]       INTERPRETER: [XXX] is the daughter.

[7]       MEMBER: Thank you and we’ve got … they never put these things in the right order.

[8]       So, the mother is, [XXX].

[9]       So, that it’s clear, the claimants are a family, husband/wife, mother/father, their minor daughter and the principal claimant’s mother. They are all citizens of Hungary.

[10]     They have all made refugee protection claims under Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

[11]     The principal claimant has been designated as the representative for his minor daughter in this matter.

[12]     The Board has taken into consideration the Board’s guidelines for minor claimants in the determination of the daughter’s claim.

[13]     In addition, the Board has taken into consideration the Chairperson’s Gender Guidelines in the determination of the claims for the principal claimant’s wife, the principal claimant’s mother, the principal claimant’s daughter.

Allegations

[14]     The specifics of the claim are stated in the principal claimant’s narrative, as well as, the principal claimant’s mother’s narrative, that are found in their Basis of Claim Form (BOC).

[15]     They allege the following:

[16]     They are Hungarian citizens whose ethnicity is Roma.

[17]     They fear to return to Hungary as they believe that they will be persecuted based on their ethnicity. They claim that they have been harassed, discriminated, threatened and assaulted due to their ethnicity.

[18]     They claim that there’s systematic discrimination against the Roma in Hungary.

[19]     In addition, they fear the actions of extremists, nationalists and members of the Jobbik Party in Hungary and in general, racist attitudes of the population as a whole.

[20]     They maintain that the police in Hungary have a discriminatory attitude towards members of the Roma community and would not adequately protect them or other members of the Roma community.

[21]     The principal claimant, his wife and child, left Hungary on or about [XXX], 2018. The principal claimant’s mother left on [XXX], 2019.

[22]     When they entered Canada, they made claims for refugee protection soon thereafter.

Determination

[23]     The Board finds that the claimants are Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the IRPA.

[24]     The Board’s reasons are as follows:

Analysis

[25]     The Board was concerned with the issues of credibility and state protection.

Identity and Credibility

[26]     The Board was satisfied with the personal identity of the claimants, that is, the personal identity of the claimants and that they were or are Hungarian citizens based on certified copies of their passport, as well as, other secondary identification documents filed.

[27]     In respect to the claimants’ ethnicity, that of being a Roma, the Board is satisfied that they are Roma based on the testimony of the claimants, as well as, a few secondary identification documents filed on their behalf. As such, the Board accepts that all claimants’ ethnicity is that of a Roma.

[28]     In the hearing, most of the evidence, most of the testimonies, was given by the principal claimant. The principal claimant’s mother did testify for a brief moment, as well. Overall, the Board found that the testimony of both witnesses were credible and reliable.

[29]     The principal claimant testified that he believed that the discriminatory attitude towards Roma was what at best could be described as, widespread. In fact, it would not be far fetched to state that he believed that it was 100%, that all non-Roma are discriminatory and act on that discriminatory basis towards a minority community that he belongs to, the Roma in Hungary.

[30]     The Board has carefully reviewed the country condition articles, reports, filed by both Counsel and the Refugee Protection Division. The Board notes that many of the documents, particularly found in the National Documentation Package, are from independent, reputable, international human rights organizations, as well as, reports from state agencies, departments from well-respected Western democracies such as Canada itself, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

[31]     It would be fair to say that, the vast majority of information in these country conditions articles and reports, substantiates, supports the claimants’ testimony and allegations found in their narrative in their claim that there is a long history of discrimination towards the Roma community by the general Hungarian society, by the government, by its security apparatus.

[32]     The country conditions articles clearly describes discrimination as widespread. As noted, the principal claimant believes 100% of the population is discriminatory. I’m not sure the documentary evidence states that but it does state that it is widespread.

[33]     In its determination of whether the claimants are Convention refugees or not, the Board has to determine whether the claimants have been persecuted in the past or if they were to return, would they be persecuted as opposed to just being discriminated against?

[34]     The Board notes that there is jurisprudence that states for a matter to be considered persecution that the mistreatment suffered or anticipated by a claimant must be serious. The approach that is used by the courts is and approved by the courts, is equated to a notion of a denial of a core human right.

[35]     The documentary evidence indicates that – and will be discussed later on in this decision – that the Roma, members of the Roma communities are discriminated on a continuous basis on all facets of their life from education, employment, health services, accommodation.

[36]     The Board finds that if the claimants were to return to Hungary that they would have a well­ founded fear of persecution.

[37]     The information found in the documentary evidence acknowledges that Hungary has taken steps to improve in the moderating of the rights of the Roma in Hungary. It has maintained a Roma Council bringing in members from different facets of society to ensure that the Roma population in Hungary is not discriminated or abused.

[38]     Nevertheless, the sources clearly indicate that both government and non-government policies for Roma integration has not been implemented.

[39]     The documentary evidence indicates that there are grave problems regarding poverty in the Roma community in Hungary, in particular, child poverty. Many of the reports, particularly from the European Union, from the UN, have not been implemented.

[40]     The annual reports from the United States State Department Reports on Human Rights Practices in Hungary, each year indicates that discrimination continues to significantly limit Roma from access to education, employment, health services and social services.

[41]     The U.S. reports every year indicates that there is a racist attitude perpetrated by the police force against this particular ethnic community.

[42]     Some of the statistics mentioned in the documentary evidence are shocking. For example, 80% of the Roma aged between 15 and 64, have not completed more than 8 years of primary education, compared to 20% among non-Roma and of those Roma, 16% did not finish primary school at all while 63% completed primary school without going on to secondary school. The comparable figures for non­ Roma Hungarians are I% and 90%, respectively.

[43]     The discrepancy narrows among those students who study vocational and trade schools, 15% of Roma versus 25% of non-Roma completed vocational programs.

[44]     The unemployment rate between the Roma and non-Roma Hungarians are significant.

[45]     The Board does acknowledge that the Hungarian government has expressed the willingness to provide protection to all of its citizens. The government has made commitments to the European Union to make efforts to improve the conditions of its minority citizens, including the Roma.

[46]     However, the Federal Court of Canada has held on a number of occasions, that good intentions alone to protect and improve the plight of the Roma in Hungary are not enough. There is a general jurisprudence that states that, having legislation that protects its nationals but is not implemented at all while its nationals are being deprived of core human rights, does not amount to adequate state protection.

[47]     As such, the Board finds that he Hungarian government and its police are unable to provide adequate state protection to its Roma citizens, at this time.

[48]     As such, based on case law, the Board finds that the claimants have rebutted the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence.

[49]     Although not an issue, I would mention internal flight alternative. The Board finds that the country condition articles and reports indicate that the discrimination and harassment and hostile attitudes of the Hungarian population, of the Hungarian government, of the poor services provided by police to this minority group, is systematically widespread and as such, there is no viable IFA available to the claimants should they return to Hungary.

Conclusion

[50]     Based on this brief analysis, the Board finds that the claimants are Convention refugees and accepts their claims.

[51]     This hearing is over.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Hungary

2019 RLLR 55

Citation: 2019 RLLR 55
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 11, 2019
Panel: William T. Short
Counsel for the claimant(s): Kristina Cooke
Country: Hungary
RPD Number: TB8-04266
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000104-000107


DECISION

[1]       On February 11, 2019, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) heard the claim of [XXX], who claims refugee protection under sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). On that same day, the panel rendered its oral positive decision and Reasons for decision. This is the written version of the oral decision and Reasons that have been edited for clarity, spelling, grammar and syntax with added references to the documentary evidence and relevant case law where appropriate.

[2]       This is the positive decision with respect to the matter of TB8-04266 of [XXX]. He is a citizen of Hungary of Roma descent, and claims to be a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection pursuant to the provisions of 96 and Subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act1 on account of his Roma heritage.

[3]       The claimant has asserted that he was subjected to severe and chronic societal and economic discrimination in Hungary because of his Roma ethnicity. He was further attacked on one particular occasion by some so-called “skinheads,” and the police who were called did not seem very interested in protecting this fellow.

[4]       For a more complete and detailed examination or recital of his allegations, one can regard the narrative portion of his Basis of Claim (BOC) Form,2 which has been taken into evidence as Exhibit 2.

[5]       The claimant’s assertions are in keeping with country documents with respect to the plight of the Roma in Hungary. If one were to look at Item 13.5 in the document package, this is Response to Information Request and it is HUN 105586.E and it is dated August 18th, 2016. It says:

Sources indicate that Roma in Hungary face discrimination ‘in all fields of life,’ including education, housing, employment, health care and political participation. The Hungarian Ombudsman reports that the”[d]isadvantageous social conditions of Roma is aggravated by discrimination especially in the field of education, health, employment, housing and access to services.” According to their 2016 annual report, the office, of the Ombudsman notes that Roma complainants “most often talk about prejudices present in society, discriminative treatment as well as severe social and accommodation problems.”3 [footnotes omitted]

[6]       It goes on to quote the country reports of the United States State Department of State for 2015 that “states that unemployment rates for Roma are 3-5 times higher than for non-Roma.”4 [footnotes omitted]

[7]       “In addition, 78.1 percent of Roma experienced “severe material deprivation in 2014… “5 and this is in severe contrast to the rest of the population.

[8]       I am also looking at Item 2.1 in the document package which is Hungary: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and that’s again the DOS, it’s dated April 23rd, 2018.

According to the EC’s Roma integration indicators scoreboard (2011-16) one-third of Roma lived in households with no toilet, shower or bathroom….

In January the ECHR ruled that police failed to provide adequate protection to two Romani individuals who were attacked with stones and bottles during a demonstration by Jobbik and paramilitary groups in Devecser in 2012 or to conduct a proper investigation of the incident.

In February the Supreme Court ruled that local police in Gyongyospata had discriminated against the local Romani community in 2011 by failing to protect them against harassment by extremist groups.6

[9]       Then going on to Item 2.5, which is a United Nations Human Rights Report, it has:

… stated that in recent years, Roma had increasingly been victims of displays of intolerance, hostility and racially motivated violence.” [It was recommended] inter alia that Hungary take resolute measures to combat all forms of intolerance, including in political discourse and take further steps to effectively prevent, investigate and sanction all forms of discrimination by members of the police force. HHC recommended that Hungary take measures to combat ethnic profiling by the police affecting the Roma7.  [footnotes omitted]

[10]     This speaks to the fact that this young man was continually stopped and asked for identification by the police.

[11]     In Response to Information Request, HUN106145.E, which is 10.1, dated August 17th, 2018, it says;

A 2018 report by the UN Human Rights Committee indicates that in Hungary there is a “prevalence of hate crimes and … hate speech targeting minorities,” including Roma, and states that “police often fail to investigate and prosecute credible claims of hate crimes and criminal hate speech … Minority Rights Group …  reports that Roma face a “continued hostility” from police forces in Hungary, which includes a “failure to protect” them from attacks8. [footnotes omitted]

[12]     It goes on and on.

[13]     I am of the view that the country materials disclose that the Hungarian State does not offer effective protection to the Roma minority from hate crimes.

[14]     One of the other pieces of material cited says that the police have a habit of not citing hate crimes as hate crimes upon the due process, they simply process as ordinary criminal offences.9

[15]     The information I have before me indicates that the Roma are subjected to terrible societal discrimination in Hungary, they are subjected to hate crimes on an ongoing basis, they are subjected to harassment by the police, and the Hungarian State through the police force has totally failed to protect these people and for that reason, the claimant I find to be totally credible.

[16]     The claimant has a claim that he is, among other things, a Convention refugee because of his ethnicity, which is a connection or a nexus to a Convention ground.

[17]     Therefore, I find that the allegations of fact made by the claimant in his oral testimony today and in his written narrative are, on the balance of probabilities, true and for the reasons previously stated, the officials and authorities in his own country have failed to protect him. That in my humble opinion makes him a Convention refugee.

[18]     I find that he is a Convention refugee and his claim is hereby accepted.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Exhibit 2, Basis of Claim Form (BOC) TB8-04266, received March 5, 2018.
3 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Hungary (August 31, 2018), Item 13.5, at pp. 2-3.
4 Ibid., at p. 2.
5 Ibid., at p. 3.
6 Ibid., Item 2.1, at pp. 35-36.
7 Ibid., Item 2.5, at para. 11.
8 Ibid., Item 10.1, at p. 1.
9 Ibid.

Categories
All Countries Hungary

2019 RLLR 50

Citation: 2019 RLLR 50
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 14, 2019
Panel: S. Eng
Counsel for the claimant(s): John A Salam
Country: Hungary
RPD Number: TB7-23388
Associated RPD Number(s): TB7-23443, TB7-23444, TB7-23445, TB7-23460
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000069-000073


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision in the claims of principal claimant [XXX]; her three children [XXX], [XXX] and [XXX]; along with her common-law partner [XXX]; in RPD File Numbers TB7-23388, TB7-23443, TB7-23444, TB7-23445 and TB7-23460.

[2]       The claimants are citizens of Hungary and they are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and Subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       The facts and events alleged in support of their claims are set out in their respective Basis of Claim Forms. In summary, the claimants allege persecution in Hungary on the basis of their ethnic Roma identity.

[4]       The panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees within the meaning of Section 96 of the IRPA.

[5]       The claimants’ identities were established as citizens of Hungary through their passports and the passports which were seized by CBSA. The panel is therefore satisfied that the claimants have met their burden and established their identities.

[6]       Based on its consideration of the totality of the evidence including the claimants’ testimonies, the panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimants are ethnic Roma. The principal claimant was the only claimant that testified at the hearing. The panel finds that the claimant testified in a straightforward fashion with regard to the central element of her claim.

[7]       The panel finds that the claimant’s overall testimony was credible and accepts on a balance of probabilities that she has faced discrimination that would rise to the level of persecution and would continue to face a serious possibility of persecution on a forward-looking basis should the claimants return to Hungary.

[8]       In their Basis of Claim Forms and in the principal claimant’s testimony, the claimant provided in detail regarding a number of incidences of discrimination in Hungary which the panel would summarise.

[9]       The claimant has around a grade [XXX] education, which she testified was the result of discriminatory attitudes towards Roma students in school and was not able to continue.

[10]     The claimant testified how her three children also experienced discrimination in school because of their Roma ethnicity. The claimant testified about housing problems in Hungary and visits from the Children’s Aid Society in Hungary. The claimant testified how unpaid debts led to the water and electricity being disconnected to the house and a visit from the Children’s Aid Society over the conditions with her children.

[11]     The claimant had testified how she had moved into this house which was her ex-husband’s around the year 2000. The claimant testified how after the visit from Children’s Aid Society, she moved into a side cabin by her parent’s house and also talked about her divorce from her ex-husband around the same time. The claimant testified about the side cabin not having proper running water or bathroom facilities.

[12]     She indicated how the Children’s Aid Society came to see her again and that she had to move in with the parents of her current common-law partner. The claimant testified how the Children’s Aid Society followed up with another visit and indicated that that house was too small for her and all the children to live in. The claimant described how she tried to find housing to rent but was turned away due to the number of children she had and also because of her Roma ethnicity. Claimant testified about the Children’s Aid Society threatening to take away her children and that being the main reason for fleeing Hungary.

[13]     The claimant also testified about her attempts to obtain employment, but how she was only able to find temporary work under the table because of her Roma identity.

[14]     The claimant spoke about not receiving proper medical treatment and suffering from an infection from a caesarean section delivery.

[15]     The claimant also testified about her common-law partner and her son being attacked by ultranationalist Hungarians by bus stop. The panel found the claimant’s testimonies to be credible and lacking in embellishment.

[16]     The panel did have concerns regarding the claimant’s testimony regarding the auction of her ex­ husband’s house after their divorce, which the claimant would have been entitled to half of the profits of the sale. The claimant testified that she did not know what happened to the house after speaking to the executor and whether it had been auctioned off. The claimant did not follow up again about the matter despite having the phone number and address for the person responsible for this sale, and did not provide any further documentation regarding the proceedings and sale of the house.

[17]     The panel finds the claimant’s testimony regarding the sale not credible as the panel finds the claimant would have sought further information on profits that she would have or might have been able to receive or even to further establish this claim. However, the panel finds that the concerns with the auction or sale of the house do not negate the panel’s other findings where the testimony and evidence were persuasive in showing that the claimants have experienced serious, systemic and repetitive discrimination.

[18]     The panel finds cumulatively that the discrimination the claimants faced including in areas of education, employment, housing and health care, that they have experienced discrimination rising to the level of persecution in Hungary.

[19]     There is also evidence to suggest State protection has not been adequately available to the claimants. The country documentation for Hungary is broadly consistent with what the claimant has indicated will happen to them. The National Documentation Package for Hungary indicates that Roma experienced widespread discrimination in housing, employment, education and treatment and accessing health care. Based on the claimant’s testimony, the panel finds that there has been systematic societal discrimination against the claimants being Roma which affected their access to adequate education, health care and employment.

[20]     Regarding State protection, though Hungary is a functioning democracy and is a member of State of the European Union and though the documentary evidence tells me that Hungary is attempting to make changes to improve the situation for Roma, serious problems remain today.

[21]     Based on these country conditions and based on the claimant’s testimony, which the panel has found to be credible, the panel is satisfied that State protection would neither be adequate or forthcoming. There are multiple instances recorded of Roma individuals seeking protection and being subjected to racist or discriminatory actions by police. The panel finds that claimant’s own actions and failing to seek out State protection are reasonably explained.

[22]     The panel also finds that there is no internal flight alternative available to the claimants as the problems of discrimination and the response by the police and authorities seem to be nationwide.

[23]     Having considered all of the evidence, the panel finds that [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX] and [XXX] are Convention refugees and have established a serious risk of persecution, and the panel accepts their claim.

[24]     I will now allow the other members to indicate whether or not they concur with the panel’s decision.

[25]     DANIEL MCKEOWN: I concur.

[26]     KATRINA PIKE: I concur, but for slightly different reasons that I will now give.

[27]     Well, I broadly concur with the reasons of my colleagues though different from their finding in one important regard.

[28]     I find that you did not face the issues that you put forward in terms of housing and child protective services before you left Hungary.

[29]     You owned, madam, a home in Hungary. The preponderance of the evidence before me, I find, supports that you continue to live in that home. Your ID documents continue to state that you had that as your address. When you came to Canada, you have listed that as your address, and you provided no documentary evidence to support that you ever lived anywhere else.

[30]     In addition, as noted by my colleagues, you provided one document related to the sale of that home. It showed that the sale did not occur. Despite having the specific contact information for someone intimately involved in that sale, you did not provide any further evidence to support any other aspect of that sale.

[31]     And so on that important point, I do find that the evidence doesn’t support your allegations. However, on a forward-looking basis, I do find that the evidence that you have provided that is credible does support that your housing situation going forward would be precarious given the attempt to sell of the home to recover debt.

[32]     The other evidence you provided today with regard to what you faced as Roma in education and work and with regard to experiencing racist incidents was credible, as it was internally consistent and consistent with the broader country documentation. You are all likely to experience discrimination in housing going forward given the country documentation.

[33]     So, I do agree with the reasons put forward by my colleagues regarding how and why the evidence supports that given what you face upon return to Hungary, you do face persecution, as well as their reasons for why there is no State protection or internal flight alternative available to you.

[34]     MEMBER: Thank you.

[35]     So, that concludes the decision.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Hungary

2019 RLLR 47

Citation: 2019 RLLR 47
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 21, 2019
Panel: B. Popatia
Counsel for the claimant(s): Vanessa M. Leigh
Country: Hungary
RPD Number: TB6-18781
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000050-000054


[1]       MEMBER: [XXX] you are a citizen of Hungary who claims Convention refugee status and refugee protection in Canada based on your alleged well-founded fear of persecution in Hungary for Convention reasons and the alleged risk there to your life risk of cruel and unusual treatment, or danger of torture.

[2]       You state that you are at risk of serious harm in Hungary at the hands of various agents of persecution based on your Roma ethnicity, female gender, young age, and family status. You allege that were you to return to Hungary you would continue to experience serious harm without the prospect of effective state protection there.

[3]       I determine you to be a Convention refugee. In my view there has been supplied sufficient reliable evidence on which to find that you have a well-founded fear of persecution in Hungary for Convention reasons.

[4]       It has been established that there is more than a mere possibility that were you to return to Hungary you would experience the serious harm of persecution, either cumulatively or in isolation, harm that would continue to have on you a substantially prejudicial effect, physically or morally.

[5]       I am satisfied that there has been supplied clear and convincing confirmation of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect you based on your particular circumstances and prevailing country conditions.

Analysis

Identity

[6]       I am satisfied that you have the personal, national, ethnic, gender and other identity alleged in the claim. You came to Canada with family and made a refugee claim within weeks of your arrival. You testified in the Hungarian language through an interpreter at the hearing. You provided extensive oral testimony, written documentation and allegations in an affidavit and in your Basis of Claim form that credibly situates you within a Hungarian context.

[7]       You state that with the exception of a short period of time in Germany to visit a close family member you have lived only in Hungary and Canada. You came to Canada on your own Hungarian travel document that was issued in 2016. A copy of that document is before me and at the Port of Entry and at the time that you made your refugee claim inland, there does not appear to have been any concern about your nationality as a Hungarian citizen. Extensive personal documentation has also been filed from Hungary.

[8]       I’m also satisfied that your Roma background has been established on the balance of probabilities. Here too the testimony and written declarations you have provided situate you within a reliable Roma context.

[9]       You have stated that while you don’t know or understand how and why you were identified as a Roma, you testified that it could be because of your dark or brown skin even though you stated that it is not that brown.  It is clear, however, that you have been closely associated with Roma persons, including close family members and that you have experienced individual and collective mistreatment, likely based on your Roma ethnicity and at times because of that ethnicity and your female gender and young age. You stated that when a close family member was mistreated, it was as if you were being abused.

[10]     You’ve conceded that you did not know the sub-group of Roma that either your mother or father belonged to but stated that they both have Roma background. You also testified that a large number of your family members have come to Canada and somehow or the other have received permanent status in Canada.

[11]     Your claim was made with your father and your elder brother. Your father’s claim was disjoined from yours because you were alleging serious harm in Hungary on grounds beyond your ethnic background and that it could be uncomfortable and difficult for you to participate in your hearing with your father present. That request was granted.

[12]     You testified about your education and stated that you got to grade [XXX] but because you did not complete one of the final exams, that having to do with language and literature, you would be unable to continue your education in Hungary. While this may have limited basis, I do accept that based on your own personal mistreatment over many years throughout grade school, your family economic and social experience, and other factors, it would be impracticable for you to expect that you would be able to continue your education in Hungary, at least at the university level.

[13]     You stated that you believed that your literature teacher was racist and anti-Roma and did not permit you to write the final exam even though a fellow student, a non-Rome was permitted to sit the final exam despite absence for about half the school year.

[14]     When counsel asked you if you had been sexually harassed in Hungary you responded affirmatively. It was deemed unnecessary to have you elaborate on that in oral testimony.

[15]     I have your written declarations and based on my assessment of your credibility, your identity and other aspects of your claim throughout the hearing, I’m satisfied that more likely than not you have had the gender-based mistreatment alleged.

[16]     Your residential identity is also compelling. You testified that on two occasions about a year apart, you, your father and your elder brother were evicted. You testified that your nuclear family has never owned any property in Hungary and that you have only rented accommodation from the city. In your written declarations you have cited at least three or four residential addresses in and around Budapest and you confirmed those street addresses when you gave testimony in the hearing.

[17]     You stated that local authorities relocated you from your rental accommodation, promising to allow you to return once the renovations were concluded, but neither you nor any other Roma family were permitted to go back to that renovated building.

[18]     You were then evicted from the other building that you had been relocated to and at that time you father, having an interest in fishing, lived in a tent with your elder brother beside the lake. You moved in for a period of time with a friend of yours you described as your best friend. You stated spontaneously that this friend was non-Roma.

[19]     You testified that Roma experience mistreatment in the health care system and while your own experience in the health care system appears to have been more positive most times, at least based on your own testimony, you did concede that that would be one of the reasons for you to fear returning to Hungary. If you were able to pay large amounts of money to physicians you would receive medical care but you stated and fear that if you were to return to Hungary based on your age and other circumstances you would not qualify for health and other social benefits.

[20]     You testified about your recreational life, street life, life on the street cars and stated that you had been mistreated by groups of racist men and that among incidents of mistreatment, that you and closely situated persons including family members experienced. Your elder brother was thrown off public transit and suffered a concussion but received no police help.

[21]     You testified that you fear the police themselves, the very agents one could rely on for protection. When asked why you had this fear you stated that they did not provide any material assistance to you or those you knew. On one occasion although a family member of your experienced mistreatment and made a police report, promises to keep you informed were not met by the police.

[22]     Years earlier a close relative experienced serious harm at the hands of her male partner. Despite repeated incidents by him against her, he was given merely a fine for all of that ordeal.

Credibility

[23]     I find that you have been a credible witness in the proceeding. You provided testimony spontaneously, directly and with the ring of truth. At times it contained extensive detail. Your testimony conformed with the written declarations in all material areas of the claim. I find that you did not embellish or exaggerate. These are the hallmarks of reliable testimony in my view.

[24]     You also maintained eye contact consistently and had a somber disposition in the hearing.

Objective basis

[25]     In my view there is a credible objective basis to your allegations. The country conditions documents from wide variety of sources, having no interest in the outcome of your proceeding, indicate that each of the forms of mistreatment you have referred to continues to impact Roma communities in Hungary and that Roma continue to experience serious forms of mistreatment, including discrimination, harassment, humiliation, marginalisation and exclusion in every sector of their civic lives: education, employment, housing, recreation, heath care.

[26]     Sources agree and you also stated in various ways, repeatedly throughout the hearing and in your written claim, that Roma experience serious personal insecurity. This is despite periods of serious efforts by the state to improve conditions for Roma and other national minorities in Hungary and to orient front line police officials and other state authorities on providing improved response and assistance to Roma communities and communities of national minorities in Hungary.

[27]     In view, although you fear serious physical harm were you to return to Hungary, such as from interactions with street groups, it is sufficient that you fear serious discrimination across the sectors of your civic life and there is a reliable objective basis to those fears. These social and economic risks are such that frontline police cannot be expected to provide protection against, and indeed, no state authority can provide immediate response for such conditions. Extensive social and political change would be required for greater security, in your case in particular.

[28]     In my view, were you to return to Hungary, there is more than a mere possibility that you would experience the serious harm of persecution cumulatively. There’s clear and convincing confirmation of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect you. Accordingly I determine you to be a Convention refugee. The Division therefore accepts your claim.

[29]     That’s it for this hearing. Thank you, Mr. Interpreter.

[30]     INTERPRETER: Thank you.

[31]     MEMBER: Counsel. All the best to you, Ms. XXXX.

[32]     CLAIMANT: Thank you very much.

[33]     MEMBER: Off the record.

– – – DECISION CONCLUDED – – –