Categories
All Countries Jordan

2020 RLLR 147

Citation: 2020 RLLR 147
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 2, 2020
Panel: Kari Schroeder
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Hachem Hassan Fawaz
Country: Jordan
RPD Number: VC0-02662
Associated RPD Number(s): VC0-02663
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000190-000203

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claim of [XXX] (the “principal claimant”) as a stateless Palestinian and her son [XXX] (the “minor claimant”) as a citizen of Jordan, who are claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act“).[1]

[2]       As the claimant’s allegations stem from gender-based violence and discrimination, I have applied the Chairperson’s Gender Guidelines in rendering a decision.[2]

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The following is a brief synopsis of the claimants’ allegations.

[4]       The principal claimant was born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents. The minor claimant was born in Saudi Arabia to the principal claimant and a Jordanian man. The principal claimant has been divorced from her Jordanian husband since 2011. In Saudi Arabia, the principal claimant suffered from various forms of discrimination due to her gender, her statelessness and her marital status.

[5]       The principal claimant obtained a [XXX] in [XXX] from [XXX] in Syria in 2004. She married her husband in 2007. She worked as a [XXX] in Saudi Arabia from 2005-2018. She was subjected to sexual harassment, employment discrimination and attempted sexual assault by her employer.

[6]       During the marriage, the claimants both suffered repeated physical and emotional abuse. The principal claimant was able to leave her husband and obtain a divorce. The ex-husband married another woman and provided little to no support for the claimants. He visited the minor claimant occasionally but was critical and abusive. He repeatedly threatened to take the minor claimant to Jordan to live with him. These threats intensified when the ex-husband learned that he might have to leave Saudi Arabia permanently. He informed the principal claimant that he would be leaving Saudi Arabia and returning to live in Jordan, and that he had decided to take his son with him. Fearing that she would lose her son, the principal claimant decided to leave Saudi Arabia and came to Canada in [XXX] 2018.

[7]       The principal claimant fears that if she returns to Saudi Arabia, she will continue to face discrimination and harassment as a woman. She also fears that her ex-husband will follow through on his plans to kidnap her son and force him to live in Jordan.

DETERMINATION

[8]       I find the principal claimant is a Convention Refugee pursuant to section 96 of the Act.

[9]       I find the minor claimant is not a Convention Refugee or person in need of protection pursuant to section 96 or section 97 of the Act.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[10]     I am satisfied that the claimants are not citizens of Saudi Arabia even though they were both born in that country. Birth in Saudi Arabia does not entitle a person to citizenship; it is granted only if a person’s parent is a Saudi citizen.[3]

[11]     The minor claimant’s identity as a national of Jordan has been established through a certified copy of his passport. He acquired this citizenship through his biological father. I am satisfied that the minor claimant is a citizen of Jordan and no other country.

[12]     The principal claimant is a stateless Palestinian. She has established her identity through a temporary passport from the Palestinian Authority as well as a travel document from Egypt. Both claimants also have Saudi Arabia resident cards.

Credibility

[13]     The principal claimant was a credible witness. She testified in a straightforward manner and offered spontaneous details without being prompted. At no point did I find she was evading answering my questions or embellishing her responses. I have several documents before me to support her allegations, including proof of her profession as a [XXX], proof of her divorce and copies of text message exchanges between her and her ex-husband. Based on the presumption of truthfulness, the corroborative evidence, and the claimants’ consistent testimony, I accept their allegations as credible. I accept that the claimants were both victims of family violence. I also accept that the claimant faced significant challenges living in Saudi Arabia as a woman and a foreigner, and that she ultimately left the country out of fear that she would lose her son.

Principal Claimant

Potential Exclusion under Article 1(f)(b)

[14]     I have considered whether the principal claimant is excluded under Article 1F(b) for child abduction, however, I find that the principal claimant is not excluded. The panel did not notify the Minister due to the finding, upon review of the evidence, that the principal claimant could likely rely on the defence of imminent harm. As explained in greater detail in my reasons, I find the claimants were victims of domestic violence in the past, that the principal claimant left Saudi Arabia out of imminent concern for her son’s well-being, and that these findings are clearly determinative of the exclusion issue.

[15]     In applying Article 1F(b) the focus is on whether the acts could be considered crimes under Canadian law.[4] In this case the relevant provision is the offence of child abduction under Section 283(1) of the Criminal Code, which states:

Abduction

283 (1) Every one who, being the parent, guardian or person having the lawful care or charge of a person under the age of fourteen years, takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person, whether or not there is a custody order in relation to that person made by a court anywhere in Canada, with intent to deprive a parent or guardian, or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of that person, of the possession of that person, is guilty of

  • an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
  • an offence punishable on summary conviction.[5]

[16]     Further, Section 285 provides for a defence of imminent harm to Section 283(1). Section 285 states:

No one shall be found guilty of an offence under sections 280 to 283 if the court is satisfied that the taking, enticing away, concealing, detaining, receiving or harbouring of any young person was necessary to protect the young person from danger of imminent harm or if the person charged with the offence was escaping from danger of imminent harm.

[17]     In Mendez, the Ontario Court of Appeal considered the purpose and intent of the 1993 amendments to the Criminal Code which set out the current version of the imminent harm defence.

Bill C-126 amends s. 285 so that the accused will also have a defence if that person took the child in the course of “escaping from danger of imminent harm.” This amendment is intended to create a defence where a person leaves a physically abusive marital relationship and takes along the children. A battered woman should not have to choose between staying with her abuser, leaving her children with him, or escaping the violence with the children but running the risk of a charge of parental child abduction. The amendment is not, however, intended to create a broad defence.[6]

[18]     In this case, the principal claimant could not take her son out of Saudi Arabia without her ex-husband’s permission. Even though the minor claimant resided fully with his mother, the minor claimant’s residency in Saudi Arabia depended entirely on his father’s sponsorship. Therefore, if the minor claimant wanted to leave the country, his father had to apply for an exit visa for him. The principal claimant testified that she had been trying to leave the country with the minor claimant, and that it took a lot of convincing before he finally agreed to allow her to take the minor claimant to the United States for a [XXX] conference. However, unbeknownst to the ex-husband, the principal claimant simultaneously applied for a Canadian visa, as her ultimate intention was to claim refugee protection in Canada. Therefore, although the father technically consented to his son leaving the country, he was unaware of what he was consenting to, and I find she did not obtain the father’s full consent to take her son out of Saudi Arabia.

[19]     However, the facts of this case give rise to the defence of imminent harm. The principal claimant testified to a long-standing pattern of abuse against the claimants through the duration of the marriage and beyond. During the father’s sporadic visits with his son, he was physically and emotionally abusive. As a follower of a strict interpretation of Islam, he became angry with his son when his hair was too long. On one occasion he hit the minor claimant for listening to music that was ‘forbidden.’

[20]     Moreover, the ex-husband consistently threatened to take the minor claimant away from her, and to take him out of Saudi Arabia to live with him in Jordan. The principal claimant, as a woman in Saudi Arabia with very few legal rights, even regarding her own child, would have no recourse to stop this from happening. She has no status in Jordan and would not be able to go to that country to protect her son from further abuse. Further, I find that if the father did follow through on his threat to remove the minor claimant from his mother’s care, the minor claimant would continue to experience physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his father. Even if the father did not follow through on his threats to remove the minor claimant from Saudi Arabia, the minor claimant would likely be forced to live with his father in Saudi in the absence of his mother. Therefore, the principal claimant was left with the choice to take her son out of the country, or leave him behind and risk not only permanent separation from him but leaving him with his abusive father. In my view this is precisely the type of scenario contemplated in Mendez.

[21]     As a result, I find that the defence of imminent harm does apply to the principal claimant’s actions. I have found the principal claimant to be credible in terms of the mistreatment she and the minor claimant suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. Saudi Arabian laws are inherently persecutory towards women and there are no laws protecting women and children from domestic violence. I am satisfied on the evidence that the imminent harm defence applies in the particular circumstances of the principal claimant. I therefore find that there are no serious reasons for considering the principal claimant excluded under Article 1F(b) for child abduction.

Countries of Former Habitual Residence (CFHR)

Egypt

[22]     I find that Egypt is not a CFHR in this case. Although the claimant is in possession of an Egyptian travel document, she has never resided in that country. Rather, she pursued an online [XXX] through an Egyptian university while residing in Saudi Arabia. Although she did visit Egypt frequently to write exams, she never had de facto residence in that country. The principal claimant testified that the longest period of time she ever remained in Egypt was for one month, and that she lived in a university dorm. She never had a fixed address. Other visits to the country were brief, lasting a matter of days. On many occasions she would leave Saudi Arabia in the morning, write her exam in Egypt, and then fly back to Saudi Arabia on the same night. During the entire period, she maintained a residence, employment and her son’s schooling in Saudi Arabia. On the evidence I am satisfied that Egypt is not a CFHR.

Syria

[23]     The principal claimant resided in Syria for a period of 8 years while she attended [XXX] school. She testified that she had a student residency permit and lived in that country as a [XXX] during the entirety of her education. I am satisfied that Syria is a CFHR in this case.

Saudi Arabia

[24]     The principal claimant also has de facto residence in Saudi Arabia. She was born in that country, and resided there for the majority of her life with the exception of her eight years in Syria. She attended school, worked as a [XXX] and raised her son in that country. I find that Saudi Arabia is a CFHR in this case.

Well-founded fear of persecution

[25]     In order to be found to be a Convention refugee, a stateless person must show that, on a balance of probabilities, he or she would suffer persecution in any country of former habitual residence, and that he or she cannot return to any and all of his or her other countries of former habitual residence.[7]

[26]     I find that the principal claimant meets this test. As explained in more detail below, the principal claimant has established a well-founded fear of persecution in Saudi Arabia. Further, she cannot return to her other CFHRs, which in this case is Syria. As the principal claimant’s student residency expired in Syria in 2004, and she no longer has any status in that country, I am satisfied that the principal claimant is unable to return to Syria.

[27]     In terms of her fear of returning to Saudi Arabia, the principal claimant testified to the enormous challenges she faced as a woman, a stateless person, and a single, divorced mother. As a female [XXX] she experienced repeated sexual harassment from her male clients. She was subjected to an attempted rape by her male supervisor. She was not able to drive due to her gender. Beginning in Grade 4, she was forced to wear a full length abaya to cover her body, hair and face, which she was adamantly opposed to but powerless to argue against. She testified that as a woman, she was unable to move freely about, as the law dictates that a male guardian must accompany her in any public setting. Further, even though the principal claimant was divorced from her husband, she experienced constant threats from him. She testified that now that he knows she has made a refugee claim in Canada, if she returns, the punishment against her “would be multiplied.”

[28]     I find that the principal claimant has established a nexus to the Convention Ground of membership in a particular social group, namely as a woman fearing gender-based persecution. The laws and customs of Saudi Arabia dictated everything from her manner of dress to her mode of transportation. As a non-citizen, the principal claimant also faced further problems that women with citizenship do not. For example, whereas women are now able to drive in Saudi Arabia, women without citizenship cannot. She experienced many years of domestic violence and did not have the right to prevent her ex-husband from taking her son away. As will be discussed, the law in Saudi Arabia regulates many aspects of women’s lives in the name of religion, including who they can marry and whether and where they can work, study or travel. The objective evidence before me also support’s the principal claimant’s allegations.

[29]     Saudi Arabia is a deeply patriarchal society that severely restricts the rights and freedoms of women. Women are not considered to be full, independent or autonomous persons with agency. They are effectively rendered legal minors.[8] For example, a woman’s testimony in court is weighed as half of that of a man.[9] A report by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy explains the situation for women in this way:

Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system is inextricably related to broader understandings of women’s places in Saudi society. The “ideal Saudi woman” is understood to be an “obedient wife and mother, educated as her family permits, segregated from gender mixing unless necessary, and entrusted with preserving the Islamic morality and traditional values promoted by the Saudi state.” In this way, the ideal Saudi woman is meant to be dependent on a man in the family rather than be the head of a family. This understanding of a woman’s role in the family and in society underpins the level of control men have over women, particularly over their wives and daughters. For example, this level of control allows a father to declare a run-away daughter to be “disobedient,” and to obtain the assistance of the police in returning his “disobedient” daughter to his care.[10]

[30]     Freedom House reports that women are subject to “extensive legal and societal discrimination, most notably through the guardianship system, in which every woman must rely on a close male relative to approve basic activities.”[11] According to Amnesty International, women are required to have permission from their male guardian — their father, husband, brother or son — to enrol in higher education, seek employment, travel or marry.[12] This source also states that women are inadequately protected against sexual and other forms of violence. Human Rights Watch adds that women may be required to seek guardian consent to access healthcare, obtain a passport or be discharged from prison.[13] In another report, Human Rights Watch maintains that recent gender-related reforms in Saudi Arabia are partial, incomplete and in some cases, nullified by the guardianship system, which remains largely intact.[14] This is echoed by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy who state that the Saudi Arabian government has not demonstrated the necessary political will to see reforms through and has failed to fully implement and enforce reform.

[31]     The Department of State (DOS) finds that widespread societal exclusion enforced by, but not limited to, state institutions restricts women from using many public facilities.[15] It states that the law requires women to sit in separate, specially-designated family sections. They often cannot consume food in restaurants that do not have such sections. According to the DOS, women risk arrest for riding in a private vehicle driven by a male who is not an employee (i.e. a hired chauffeur or taxi driver) or a close male relative. Furthermore, cultural norms enforced by state institutions require women to wear an abaya in public. The DOS reports that women have unequal marital, inheritance, divorce, child custody, citizenship, political and property rights.

[32]     Women in Saudi Arabia do not have rights equal to that of men. In this case, the principal claimant’s freedom to make decisions about her movement, education, employment, healthcare, travel, marriage, and clothing are restricted by custom and the guardianship system in Saudi Arabia.

[33]     Not only do the conditions in Saudi Arabia not afford women with basic rights, women’s ability to make their own decisions about issues central to their lives is seriously hampered. This represents serious, sustained and systematic limitations on fundamental issues in one’s life that amount to persecution. The principal claimant seeks to live free of gender norms in Saudi Arabia. Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that the principal claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution as a woman in Saudi Arabia.

State Protection

[34]     In terms of state protection, I do not find that it would be available to the principal claimant since the state enforces these violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Internal Flight Alternative

[35]     I also do not find that the principal claimant could live elsewhere in the country since the government enforces the persecutory laws throughout the country.

Minor Claimant

[36]     The minor claimant is a citizen of Jordan, and I have considered whether he has a well-founded fear of persecution in that country. I have already found that the minor claimant would face an imminent harm in Saudi Arabia from his father, however, he is not a citizen of that country and I have therefore not assessed whether he has a well-founded fear in that country. The principal claimant alleges that her son faces a risk in Jordan, as he may have to live in that country with his abusive father. She also argues that she would be permanently separated from her son, as she does not have status in Jordan and would not be able to accompany him to that country.

[37]     The current location of the minor claimant’s father is not clear from the evidence. The principal claimant testified that she has not spoken to her ex-husband in about a year. She believes he still lives in Saudi Arabia, as he remarried and has another family there, and he previously sent her messages from his Saudi Arabia phone number, however, the principal claimant did hear from a mutual friend that he had also set up a business in Jordan. He also repeatedly told the principal claimant that he would be relocating to Jordan. Ultimately the principal claimant does not know with certainty in which country her ex-husband resides full­ time.

[38]     In this case then, the minor claimant would be returning to Jordan, a country that he has never lived in. His family there consists of his father, who may or may not live in the country full-time, and his elderly grandmother. The principal claimant alleges that she believed that her ex-husband would remove her son from her care, simply as a way to torment her, however, that he ultimately has shown no interest in raising for or caring for the child.

[39]     I have considered the principal claimant’s arguments regarding family separation and am aware that the minor claimant is an [XXX]-year old boy who would be returning to a country he has never lived in, to face an uncertain and unknown situation. However, I find that the claimants have not established with sufficient evidence that the minor claimant meets the definition of a Convention Refugee or person in need of protection. There is insufficient evidence to show that he would be forced to live with his abusive father, as it is not clear that the father even lives in the country. Likewise, there is insufficient evidence to show what the minor claimant’s situation would be if his father was not in the country, for example, that there would be no long-term or foster care available to a minor without family to care for him. There is insufficient evidence to establish that he would be an ‘abandoned child’ in the context of the facts in Patel.[16] I have considered the objective evidence regarding child abuse in Jordan, and agree that there are serious gaps in the legal protection afforded to children who are abused by family members.[17] However, there is insufficient evidence to establish that this would be, on a balance of probabilities, the situation facing the minor claimant. Further, the objective evidence is silent on the treatment of unaccompanied children in Jordan. While I am extremely sympathetic to the claimants’ situation, and the humanitarian and compassionate factors that arise from this case, without clearer evidence to establish the risks the minor claimant would face, the principal claimant has not met her onus of establishing that the minor claimant would face a forward­ looking risk under section 96 or 97.

[40]     I am mindful in this case of the court’s comments in Chavez Carrillo:[18]

[15] It is established that if an applicant has the citizenship or nationality of a country where he or she has no well-founded fear of persecution, protected person status will be denied…. This Court has held on several occasions that there is no concept of family unity incorporated into the definition of Convention refugee.

            …

[17]     However, the human aspect of this case is clear, and it cannot be ignored. At first glance, the RPD’s decision seems to have as a direct consequence the separation of the applicant from his mother. In the event of a departure, the mother will have to choose between allowing her son to leave by himself for the United States and accompanying him to a country where she does not benefit from any legal status.

[18]     Fortunately, the solution to this problem can be found in subsection 176(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227 [IRP Regulations]. It provides that “[a]n applicant may include in their application to remain in Canada as a permanent resident any of their family members. Therefore, when the applicant’ s mother files an application for permanent residence (if she has not already done so), she will certainly include the applicant as a family member. The mother and her minor son will surely not be separated merely because he was not granted refugee status and she was.

[41]     Based on the evidence before me, I find that the minor claimant would not face a serious possibility of persecution in Jordan as a minor child, nor would he face, on a balance of probabilities, a forward looking risk of torture or personalized risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

CONCLUSION

[42]     I find that the principal claimant is a Convention Refugee pursuant to section 96 of the Act, and the Board therefore accepts her claim.

[43]     I find that the minor claimant is not a Convention Refugee or person in need of protection pursuant to the Act, and the Board therefore rejects his claim.


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

[2] IRB Chairperson’s Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution, Ottawa, Canada,March 1993, updated November 1996, and R. v. Lavallee, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 852.

[3] Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP), Saudi Arabia, March 31, 2020, Item 3.1 Response to Information Request (RIR) SAU105183.E.

[4] Vlad, Anghel v. M.C.I. (F.C., no. IMM-1800-06), Snider, February 15, 2007, 2007 FC 172 at para. 22; M.C.I. v. Diaz, Paola Andrea Pulido (F.C., no. IMM-4878-10), Phelan, June 21, 2011, 2011 FC 738 at para. 12; Radi, Spartak v. M.C.I. (F.C., no. IMM-2928-11), Near, January 5, 2012, 2012 FC 16 at para. 23.

[5] Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46).

[6] R v. Mendez, (1997) 32 O.R. (3d) 67.

[7] Thabet v. MCI, [1998] 4 FC 21, 1998 CanLll 9063 (FCA).

[8] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.2.

[9] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.1.

[10] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.5.

[11] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.4.

[12] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.2.

[13] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.5.

[14] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.2.

[15] Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.1.

[16] Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Patel, 2008 FC 747 (CanLII), [2009] 2 FCR 196

[17] Exhibit 3, NDP, Jordan, March 31, 2020, Item 2.1.

[18] Chavez Carrillo 2012 FC 1228.

Categories
All Countries Jordan

2020 RLLR 135

Citation: 2020 RLLR 135
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 24, 2020
Panel: L. Bonhomme
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Talia Joundi
Country: Jordan
RPD Number: TB9-13034
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-13090, TB9-13117, TB9-13128
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000118-000127

REASONS FOR DECISION

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

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

Determination

[3]       The panel finds the principal claimant to be a person in need of protection within the meaning of s.97(1) of the IRPA.

[4]       The panel does not find the associate claimant or minor claimants to be Convention refugees or persons in need of protection.

Allegations

[5]       The details of the claimants’ allegations are more fully set out in the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim Form (“BOC”) and amended BOC.[2] In short, the principal claimant’s cousin murdered a teenaged neighbour belonging to another tribe. As a result, the principal claimant and his family are being pursued for a revenge killing by the tribe.

[6]       The oldest minor claimant, [XXX], is a citizen of the United States of America. The claimants do not make any allegations against the United States of America.

Analysis

Identity

[7]       The principal, associate and youngest minor claimants’ personal identities as citizens of Jordan have been established by the principal claimant’s testimony and the certified true copies of their Jordanian passports and Canadian visas on file.[3]

[8]       The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the principal, associate and youngest minor claimants are who the say they are and that the country of reference for them is Jordan.

[9]       The personal identity of the oldest minor claimant, as a citizen of the United States of America, has been established by the principal claimant’s testimony and the certified true copy of his passport issued by the United States of America on file.[4]

[10]     The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the oldest minor claimant is who he says he is and that a country of reference for this claimant is the United States of America.

Credibility

[11]     The determinative issue in this claim is credibility. In making this assessment, the panel has considered all the evidence, including the oral testimony and documentary evidence entered as exhibits as well as post-hearing disclosure. The principal and associate claimants both testified and although there were some inconsistences between the principal claimant’s testimony, the BOCs, and the documentary evidence, the panel finds that there is sufficient documentary evidence and credible testimony going to the core of the claim to overcome the inconsistencies.

[12]     The claimants allege in the BOCs that in [XXX] 2016, the principal claimant’s cousin, [XXX] murdered a seventeen year old named [XXX] by shooting him with a gun resulting in his death eight days later. The cousin and the victim were neighbours in the [XXX] neighbourhood of Irbid. The claimants submitted two news articles closely corroborating the details of the murder, including the timing and location and naming the individuals involved.[5]

[13]     However, the panel does note that there are some inconsistencies between the news sources’ accounts of the aftermath and the claimants’ testimony and BOCs.  According to the news reports, the cousin’s [XXX] and the tribe’s hosting place were burned that day, after the victim’s death was announced.  According to the BOCs, the principal claimant began receiving weekly phone threats which increased over time and both he and the associate claimant received warnings from neighbours of threats against their lives. At some point, the principal claimant received face to face threats while working, as his job involved [XXX] in the [XXX] neighbourhood.  The BOCs allege that the threats turned into action around [XXX] 2016 when the cousin’s store, the clan’s reception home, and the cousin’s brothers’ homes were set on fire. The BOCs do not mention any fires before that time.

[14]     At the hearing, the principal claimant testified that he learned of the shooting that same day as tribe members started to burn things and fire shots. When asked for specifics of what was burned, the principal claimant listed the cousin’s house, two reception homes, and stores.  The fires went on for a week after the shooting and after the victim died. This was repeated in [XXX]. When asked to explain this, the principal claimant described how tribe members would set fire to the building, burn it, put out the fire and then burn it again.  The principal claimant was asked why he did not indicate in his BOCs that the fires happened the same day as the shooting and he responded that he did not know. When asked why the BOCs only mention fires in [XXX] 2016, the principal claimant responded that the fires increased then. Although the panel does not find that the principal claimant’s explanations are compelling, the panel accepts that there were some fires related to the murder.

[15]     Aside from the timing of the fires, both claimants’ testimony was consistent with the BOCs and with one another. The principal claimant was able to adequately describe in detail the threats he received, both on the phone and in person, and how they changed over time. Furthermore, the claimants have produced a number of documents corroborating various aspects of their claim.

[16]     The principal claimant alleges in his BOCs that he is being targeted because he was particularly close with his cousin and in his testimony, he added that he is a young man distinguishable in the town. The principal claimant is university educated and active in the humanitarian field, having been employed for several years with the [XXX], and later the [XXX]. The claimants submitted a certificate indicating the principal claimant was awarded a [XXX] of [XXX] in 2009 and letters confirming his employment with the [XXX] from [XXX] 2013 to [XXX] 2017 and with the [XXX] from [XXX] 2017 to [XXX] 2018.[6] The claimants submitted a letter from the principal claimant’ s father expressing his fear for his son’s life and that his son’s life is particularly being threatened due to his relationship with the perpetrator of the shooting.[7] The claimants also submitted a letter from the leader of the [XXX] tribe dated [XXX] 2019 confirming the risk of revenge killing to the family members of [XXX] generally, including the claimants.[8]

[17]     The claimants allege that the motivation for the agents of persecution to pursue them increased when another local tribe enacted a revenge murder against another tribe in a similar blood murder situation, a year (in [XXX] 2018) after a sulha (truce) had been reached. The claimants submitted newspaper articles from [XXX] 2017 describing a truce between the two tribes due to the killing of one of the tribe members after a parking dispute. The claimants also submitted a travel advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Jordan in 2017 recommending that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the [XXX] area in Irbid due to violent incidents, including arson and fatalities in [XXX] 2017.[9] At the hearing, the principal claimant explained how word had spread that another tribe had exacted revenge whereas the [XXX] tribe had not yet done so. He testified convincingly that his fear was heightened as a result.

[18]     The claimants resided in the [XXX] neighbourhood. According to the principal claimant’s testimony, it was about a one to two minute walk from where the murder occurred. The claimants moved on at least two occasions to try to ensure their safety; however, the threats followed them. The claimants submitted two tenancy contracts: one from [XXX] 2016 to [XXX] 2017 for an [XXX] address and the other from [XXX] 2018 for an address behind the [XXX] Hospital and close to [XXX] College.[10]

[19]     The claimants alleged that in [XXX] 2019, threatening messages to the principal claimant were received on Facebook and that the principal claimant’s brother continues to receive threats. The claimants submitted communications to the principal claimant from “[XXX]” and from the principal claimant’s brother corroborating this allegation.[11]

Objective Basis

[20]     Sources in the National Documentation Package for Jordan confirm that revenge is part of tribal practices, including revenge killing. According to an article entitled, “Tribal Customary Law in Jordan,” when a murder takes place in a village, the male members of the victim’s family have the right under Bedouin law to murder a male member of the perpetrator’s family. The victim’s family will often choose the most respected member of the perpetrator’s family so as to bring shame on the perpetrator within his own family.[12]

[21]     Counsel for the claimants submitted numerous news articles attesting to the current prevalence of revenge practices in Jordan, including killings and retaliatory fire-setting.[13]

[22]     In considering the mostly credible testimony from the principal and associate claimants, the ample corroborating documentary evidence, and the country conditions, the panel believes what the claimants have alleged in support of the claim in relation to the principal claimant and finds that a personal risk to the principal claimant’s life of a revenge killing by the [XXX] tribe in Jordan is established, on a balance of probabilities.

[23]     The panel finds that there is not sufficient credible and trustworthy evidence to establish on a balance of probabilities that there is a personal risk to the lives, or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, of the associate and youngest minor claimant. There is no evidence of any threats to the youngest minor claimant, a two year old girl. The principal claimant testified emphatically that the tribe would not pick a child to exact revenge upon. The only evidence in relation to the associate claimant are warnings from neighbours of hearing of threats against their lives which the panel finds to be too vague. The principal claimant’s own evidence was that he was specifically targeted due to his relationship with his cousin, his gender and profile in the community, clearly distinguishing him from his wife who is not alleged to have enjoyed a similar relationship with the cousin. There is no evidence in the country conditions of females being targeted for revenge killings for murder.

[24]     The panel does not find that there is any evidence of a nexus to a Convention ground in relation to the associate claimant and youngest minor claimant and therefore the panel finds that the associate claimant and youngest minor claimant are not Convention refugees.

State protection

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

[26]     The claimants’ evidence was that the principal claimant consulted with some friends who work in the police force and was told there was nothing that could be done because he could not be given a personal security guard. The claimants submitted a document from the police directorate in Irbid dated [XXX] 2016 indicating that the principal claimant had requested protection for himself and his family from the [XXX] tribe but that he could not be provided with private protection and that if the identities of the individuals making the threats was known, further steps could be taken.[14]

[27]     In this case, tribal dispute resolution was invoked; however, the process was ineffective to the principal claimant. The claimants submitted a document that was translated as “deed of tribal truce by admission” issued February 3, 2016 describing a ja’ha between the Al-Rawabdeh tribe and the Al-Irjoob tribe due to the shooting on January 23, 2106 of Ayhan Ali Salah Al-Rawabdeh by Ibrahim Saleh Abdelhafiz Al-Irjoob.[15]

[28]     Sources in the National Documentation Package indicate that although tribal law in Jordan was abolished in 1975, tribal dispute resolution has come to forma prevailing part of the Jordanian culture and customs, despite the fact that it no longer constitutes a part of the Jordanian legal system. This is especially so in relation to blood crimes, honour crimes and conflicts between families.[16] In practise, the legal system defers to tribal customs and practises. Although the tribal dispute resolution process operates outside of and alongside the legal system, the state is often complicit and even active in tribal dispute resolution processes (e.g. police often supervise jalwa, atweh may be supervised by state security forces, state-appointed officials may form part of a jaha, state or members of the royal family may act as waseet).[17]

[29]     Based on the evidence before the panel, the panel finds that in this case the state is unwilling or unable to protect the principal claimant effectively.

[30]     The country information is clear and convincing evidence that rebuts the presumption that adequate state protection is available to the principal claimant in Jordan. The panel therefore finds on a balance of probabilities that the principal claimant cannot access adequate state protection in Jordan.

Internal Flight Alternative

[31]     The panel has also considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for the principal claimant. Jordan is a small country. The tribe pursuing the claimants is a powerful and politically influential tribe, counting a former Jordanian Prime Minister as a member. Although the tribe is based in [XXX], members live outside the village. Given the profile of the tribe, the agents of persecution would likely have no difficulty being able to locate the principal claimant throughout the country.

[32]     The panel finds that, on a balance of probabilities, the principal claimant’s life would be at risk throughout Jordan and therefore finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative.

Conclusion

[33]     Based on the totality of the evidence, the panel finds the principal claimant to be a person in need of protection from Jordan and therefore his claim is accepted. The panel finds that the associate claimant and youngest minor claimant are not Convention refugees or persons in need of protection from Jordan and therefore their claims are denied.

[34]     The claimants did not make any allegations of persecution, risk of persecution or risk to life or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment in relation to the United States of America in the BOCs. When asked at the hearing what the principal claimant feared for his son in the United States of America, the principal claimant responded that when they lived there, two Muslim girls and a young man were murdered close to where they were living in North Carolina. The principal claimant alleged that it was a racist crime. Without any other evidence, the panel does not find that there is sufficient credible or trustworthy evidence to establish that the oldest minor claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution, nor on a balance of probabilities would he face a risk to life or qa risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment or a danger of torture, if he returned to the United States of America.

[35]     The panel finds that the oldest minor claimant is not a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection from the United States of America and therefore his claim is denied.


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

[2] Exhibit 2: Basis of Claim Form (BOC) TB9-13034 and Exhibit 11: Amended Basis of Claim Form (BOC) TB9-13034 dated January 10, 2020.

[3] Ibid.

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

[5] Exhibit 9: Claimant’s personal documents received January 5, 2020.

[6] Exhibit 8: Claimants’ disclosure package received January 3, 2020 (personal documents X2 and country conditions X1).

[7] Exhibit 12: Claimants’ late disclosure (personal document).

[8] Exhibit 8: Claimants’ disclosure package received January 3, 2020 (personal documents X2 and country conditions X1).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Exhibit 6: National Documentation Package for Jordan version August 2019, Item 9.1.

[13] Exhibit 10: Claimants’ disclosure package received January 10, 2020 (personal documents X1 and country conditions X1).

[14] Exhibit 8: Claimants’ disclosure package received January 3, 2020 (personal documents X2 and country conditions X1).

[15] Exhibit 10: Claimants’ disclosure package received January 10, 2020 (personal documents X1 and country conditions X1).

[16] Exhibit 6: National Documentation Package for Jordan version August 2019, Item 9.1.

[17] Ibid, Item 5.10.

Categories
All Countries Jordan

2020 RLLR 87

Citation: 2020 RLLR 87
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 16, 2020
Panel: Preeti Adhopia
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Anu Kumar
Country: Jordan
RPD Number: VB9-05302
Associated RPD Number(s): VB9-05311, VB9-05316
ATIP Number: A-2021-00800
ATIP Pages: 000175-000185

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claims of [XXX] (the “principal claimant”) and his daughter, [XXX] (the “minor claimant”), as citizens of Jordan, and his wife, [XXX] (the “associated claimant”) as a former habitual resident of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who are all claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act“).[1]

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The principal claimant is a [XXX]-year-old Palestinian who was born to Jordanian parents in Kuwait. Since there is no birthright citizenship in Kuwait, he does not have any status there. He and his family moved back to Jordan in 1990. After finishing university in 1999, the principal claimant took a job in the United Arab Emirates and has lived there ever since.

[3]       The associated claimant is a [XXX]-year-old stateless Palestinian who was born in a refugee camp in Syria. Her family moved to the UAE when she was two months old because her father was politically active and faced arrest by the Syrian government. She has lived in the UAE ever since then. In 2004, the associated claimant married the principal claimant.

[4]       In [XXX] 2011, the associated claimant travelled to Syria for a visit. During this visit, the war broke out and she was detained along with other family members because authorities were seeking her uncle. They beat her and questioned her about the political activities of her father

and uncle. After this event, the associated claimant returned home to the UAE.

[5]       In [XXX] 2017, the principal claimant visited Jordan. He had been having a dispute with his cousins concerning inheritance from their grandfather and wanted to resolve it. When it could not be resolved, his cousins resorted to threats to have the principal claimant jailed or killed. The principal claimant’s cousins contrived a plan to harm him by provoking an honour crime. During university, he had a relationship with a woman and proposed marriage to her. The proposal was refused by her family. The principal claimant ran into the woman on this trip to Jordan and so they decided to meet up again. His cousins photographed these encounters and provided the pictures to the woman’s husband. The cousins convinced the woman’s husband that the principal claimant was having an affair with her. The husband and his wife’s family vowed to kill the principal claimant to restore their honour. When the principal claimant complained to the police, they refused to take a report. That same day, he was attacked by three armed men who vowed to kill him. As a result, the principal claimant fled Jordan and returned home to the UAE.

[6]       When the principal claimant lost his job in 2019, it cancelled the claimants’ residency status in the UAE. Not wanting to return to Jordan or Syria, the claimants came to Canada. They fear that if they return to Jordan or Syria, they will face persecution and other risks.

DETERMINATION

[7]       I find that, pursuant to section 97(1) of the Act, the principal claimant is a person in need of protection as he faces a risk to his life or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment in Jordan, on a balance of probabilities.

[8]       I find that the minor claimant is not a Convention refugee as she does not have a well- founded fear of persecution related to a Convention ground in Jordan. I also find that the associated claimant is not a person in need of protection, in that her removal to Jordan would not subject her personally to a risk to life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. There are also no substantial grounds to believe that her removal to Jordan would subject her personally to a danger of torture.

[9]       I find that the associated claimant is not a Convention refugee as she does not have a well-founded fear of persecution related to a Convention ground in the UAE. I also find that the associated claimant is not a person in need of protection, in that her removal to the UAE would not subject her personally to a risk to life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. There are also no substantial grounds to believe that her removal to the UAE would subject her personally to a danger of torture.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[10]     The principal and minor claimants’ identities as nationals of Jordan are established by testimony and their passports in evidence.[2] The associated claimant’s identity is substantiated by her Syrian travel document for Palestinians in evidence.[3] I am satisfied of the claimants’ identities by these documents.

Country of Former Habitual Residence

[11]     I have considered the test for stateless claimants as set out by the Federal Court of Appeal in Thabet:

In order to be found to be a Convention refugee, a stateless person must show that, on a balance of probabilities he or she would suffer persecution in any country of former habitual residence, and that he or she cannot return to any of his or her other countries of former habitual residence.[4]

A country of former habitual residence refers to “a situation where a stateless person was admitted to a given country with a view to continuing residence of some duration, without necessitating a minimum period of residence,” and where there is a “sufficient period of de facto residence.”[5]

[12]     The associated claimant is stateless. She was born in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria to stateless parents. Palestinians in Syria, even if they were born there, are not granted Syrian citizenship “in order to preserve their original nationality.”[6] Her travel document is not a passport and does not entitle her to the rights of a citizen, residency, or even a right of entry to Syria.[7] Although the associated claimant only made allegations against Syria, and it was submitted that Syria is her only country of habitual residence, no explanation for why this is the case was provided. I disagree that Syria is the associated claimant’s country of former habitual residence. She only resided there for the first two months of her life. Her father was the first in the family to leave Syria before the rest of the family joined him shortly after she was born. This indicates that there was likely no view to continuing residence once the associated claimant was born because she and her other family members joined her father after her birth. Also, two months out of the associated claimant’s [XXX] years does not constitute a sufficient period of de facto residence in my view. Although she visited Syria since her birth, she never lived there again.

[13]     It was argued that the UAE is not a country of former habitual residence in the associated claimant’s case, but the only argument presented in support of this is that she has no status there. I note that she does not have status in Syria either, yet it was argued that Syria is a country of former habitual residence. In any case, the fact that a claimant has no status in a country is not relevant to the issue of whether or not it is a country of former habitual residence. The test for determining habitual residence has been stated above. Since the associated claimant resided in the UAE for a significant period of time – [XXX] years – with a view to continuing residency, including going to school and working, I find that the UAE is her only country of former habitual residence.

Credibility

[14]     At the hearing, both claimants gave testimony that was generally clear and direct. The principal claimant provided a number of details to flesh out information in his narrative, which gave weight to his allegations. He also clarified a few issues, including that he does not know if his former girlfriend has been killed; this was speculation on his cousin’s part. There were no material inconsistencies or contradictions within the claimants’ evidence that were not reasonably explained or that undermined their credibility in respect of their central allegations.

[15]     The claimants submitted evidence to corroborate some of their allegations. This includes 11 statements from his family, relatives, neighbors, a friend and a colleague.[8] Together, they substantiate the principal claimant’s past relationship in university, his cousins’ plan to make it look like he was having an affair, his assault, and that people continue to seek his whereabouts. The associated claimant also submitted seven statements from her family members, though they all relate to her risk in Syria, which I have found is not a country of reference. Based on the presumption of truthfulness, the claimants’ consistent testimony and the corroborative evidence, I accept the claimants’ allegations as credible.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution & Risk of Harm

Principal Claimant – Jordan

[16]     In this case, I do not find that the principal claimant’s allegations form a nexus to the Convention. That is to say, he does not fear his former girlfriend’s family on the basis of his race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Rather, he fears them because they mistakenly believe he had an affair that violated their honour. As such, this claim must be assessed under section 97(1) of the Act.

[17]     I find that the principal claimant faces a risk to his life or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment on a balance of probabilities. His cousins led his former girlfriend’s family to believe that he was having an affair with her by showing them pictures of the pair meeting up. In fact, the principal claimant had not seen her in about 20 years when he ran into her and they were simply catching up on each other’s lives. Nonetheless, the principal claimant received information from a cousin he is on good terms with that other cousins had concocted the plan and the woman’s family vowed to kill him. The principal claimant was so fearful of the threat, that he pre-emptively reported that he was a potential victim of an honour crime to police. He was then beaten by three armed men who vowed to kill him to restore their honour, until bystanders intervened. After he left the country, individuals have persistently sought his whereabouts from his family.

[18]     The country condition evidence on Jordan is replete with information about the serious problem of so called “honour” crimes. However, all of the same sources indicate that women are generally the victims of these crimes. Whether it is labelled an honour crime when committed against a man or not, the fact is, the woman’s husband and family are furious; they assaulted him and vowed to kill him. They are also still interested in locating him. Based on the death threats against the principal claimant, his assault, the ongoing interest of the perpetrators, and the fact that Jordan has a culture of honour crime, I find that the principal claimant faces a likely risk of section 97 harm.

Minor Claimant – Jordan

[19]     The principal claimant testified that he fears that if his daughter returns to Jordan, his agents of harm might kill her. I do not find sufficient evidence that this is so. There is no indication that the woman’s family has threatened to harm his family members in order to punish him. Were this the case, his family members who have been approached for the principal claimant’s whereabouts would have accordingly been harmed. But, there is no evidence that this was the case. In addition, there is no evidence to indicate that perpetrators of honour crimes harm family members of the person who dishonoured them. Thus, the evidence is insufficient to demonstrate that the minor claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution or risk of harm on this basis.

[20]     Although the adult claimants did not raise any gender-based fears for their daughter if she returns to Jordan, I have nonetheless considered it in accordance with the Chairperson’s gender guidelines. I find that women in Jordan experience discrimination in a number of areas such as inheritance, divorce, child custody, citizenship, pension, social security benefits, the workplace, and, in certain circumstances, the value of their testimony in Sharia court.[9] While there is discrimination against women in Jordan, even when taken together, I do not find sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it rises to the level of persecution or poses section 97 risks in the minor claimant’s particular case.

[21]     Overall, I find that there is insufficient evidence that the minor claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution or likely risk of harm if she returns to Jordan. As such, there is no need to assess state protection or an Internal Flight Alternative (IFA) in her case.

Associated Claimant – UAE

[22]     I find that the associated claimant does not have a well-founded fear of persecution or a risk of section 97 harm on a balance of probabilities in the UAE. She did not make any allegations against the UAE in her Basis of Claim form. At the hearing, she was asked whether she has any fear of returning to the UAE, notwithstanding the fact that she no longer holds valid residency there. She testified that she has no fear and would still be living there if her husband had not lost his job. His employment was tied to their residency because “work sponsorship is an essential pre-requisite for becoming a legal resident” and the loss of employment would result in a loss of status in the country.[10] She was also asked if she faced any kind of problems in the UAE. Again, she replied that she did not and that she was able to go to school, attend university, and work for 12 years. She had to stop working because employers give preference to citizens over foreign nationals. She was also asked about any obstacles she faced in her life. She only referred to delays in getting passports and residency permits. I do not find that any of this treatment rises to the level of persecution or section 97 risks. A requirement for non-citizens to have sponsored employment to maintain residency is unrelated to a Convention ground.[11] A state is entitled to enact and enforce its own citizenship and residency laws. While I acknowledge that the associated claimant no longer has valid residency in the UAE and would likely be denied entry, the Convention is only applicable to her circumstances if the refusal of entry is based on a Convention ground, and not related to immigration laws of general application,[12] as in the case here.

[23]     Despite the fact that the associated claimant did not make allegations against the UAE on the basis of her gender, I nonetheless considered this in accordance with the Chairperson’s guideline on gender. The evidence reveals that the penal code allows men to use physical violence against female family members; that domestic violence is a serious problem; and that domestic violence laws are not enforced.[13] But, there is no evidence of violence by anyone with whom the associated claimant has had a domestic relationship. The evidence also indicates that there is gender discrimination in the law and practice with, for example, family law.[14] While there is discrimination against women in the UAE, even when taken together, I do not find sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it rises to the level of persecution or poses section 97 risks in the associated claimant’s particular case.

[24]     Overall, the associated claimant has not adequately established that she would face a serious possibility of treatment amounting to persecution based on a Convention ground. Similarly, the evidence is not indicative of a likely risk to life, cruel and unusually treatment or punishment or torture. There is no need to assess state protection or IFA in her case either.

State Protection

Principal Claimant

[25]     In this case, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that the principal claimant is likely to obtain adequate state protection. He attempted to report the threat against him to the police, but they rejected it arguing that as an honour issue, it was a private matter. The officer also questioned the claimant about trying to complain against such a venerable tribe. When asked why he did not report his assault, the principal claimant testified that given the response he

received earlier, he did not believe police would assist him. He also testified that the Bani Hassan tribe is an extremely large tribe – often known as the tribe of a million people – widely known to hold positions in security and government and to be well-connected with each other. As such, he believes the police would not assist him, particularly since he is Palestinian and because the issue relates to honour.

[26]     The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) notes that Palestinians face some discrimination in Jordan, and relatively few are in the public sector.[15] It states that individuals and groups have disproportionate access to power and influence, which in Jordan and the broader Arab world, is referred to as ‘wasta.’  Wasta can affect business, bureaucratic, political and social dealings. According to DFAT, most Palestinians in Jordan have little wasta when dealing with government bureaucracy. The public service is largely made up of tribes with a great deal of wasta. In DFAT’s assessment, wasta is not evidence in and of itself of official or societal discrimination against Palestinians, but a central component to understanding how Jordanian society operates. It goes on to state that:

Despite being a numerical minority, the majority of the security forces, including the police, are East Bankers. DFAT assesses that there is no official policy for security forces to make life more difficult for Palestinians. However, personality­-driven discrimination by individual officers against Palestinians and others can and does occur. It is unlikely that any complaints made by Palestinians of abuse by law enforcement agencies would result in legal redress. As is the case in much of Jordan, the individual’s wasta would likely determine the quality of redress.

[27]     This evidence confirms the principal claimant’s testimony indicating that because he is Palestinian, he is unlikely to obtain adequate state protection, particularly against a large and powerful tribe that occupies positions in government and police. It should be noted that according to the Department of State, although citizens may complain against police abuse and corruption, it is “rarely investigated” in Jordan.[16] It states that officials engage in corrupt practices with impunity and the use of family, business, and other personal connections to advance personal interests is widespread. Based on the principal claimant’s failed attempt to obtain protection, the profile of the agents of persecution, the low wasta of Palestinians, and widespread corruption with impunity, I find that there is no state protection

Internal Flight Alternative

[28]     I also do not find that the principal claimant could live safely elsewhere in the country. Jordan is an exceptionally small country in size and population. Given the corruption in Jordan and that the claimants’ agents of harm belong to a tribe that is heavily represented in public service, they are likely to have access to government information that would reveal the principal claimant’s whereabouts. For example, they have been able to locate a number of the principal claimant’s family members to demand his whereabouts. Based on these factors, I find that there is no IFA in this case.

CONCLUSION

[29]     Having considered all of the evidence, I find that the principal claimant is a person in need of protection as set out in section 97(1) of the Act. His claim is therefore accepted.

[30]     I find that the minor and associated claimants are neither Convention refugees as set out in section 96, nor persons in need of protection within the meaning of subsection 97(1) of the Act. Their claims are therefore denied.


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

[2] Exhibit 1.

[3] Exhibit 1.

[4] Thabet v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1998] 4 F.C. 21 (C.A); 48 Imm. L.R. (2d) 195 (F.C.A.).

[5] Maarouf v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration). [1994] 1 F.C. 723 (T.D.), (1993), 23 Imm. L.R. (2d) 163 (F.C.T.D.)

[6] Exhibit 3.2, National Documentation Package (NDP), Syria, September 30, 2019, Item 3.6 Response to Information Request (RIR) SYR104658.E.

[7] Exhibit 3.2, NDP, Item 3.6.

[8] Exhibit 4.

[9] Exhibit 3.1, NDP, Jordan, August 30, 2019, Items 2.1, 2.4 and 5.5.

[10] Exhibit 3.3, NDP, United Arab Emirates, February 28, 2020, Item 14.2 RIR ZZZ106014.E.

[11] Alusta, Khahil v. ME.I. (F.C.T.D., no. A-779-92), Denault, May 16, 1995.

[12] Arafa, Mohammed v. ME.I. (F.C.T.D., no. A-663-92), Gibson, November 3, 1993.

[13] Exhibit 3.3, NDP, Item 2.1.

[14] Exhibit 3.3, NDP Items 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4.

[15] Exhibit 3.1, NDP, Item 13.1.

[16] Exhibit 3.1, NDO, Item 2.1.

Categories
All Countries Jordan

2019 RLLR 98

Citation: 2019 RLLR 98
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 19, 2019
Panel: F. Mortazavi
Counsel for the claimant(s): Sherif Ashamalla
Country: Jordan
RPD Number: TB8-06771
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000107-000113


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       [XXX], the claimant, a male Muslim, is a citizen of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Jornan). He is claiming refugee protection under sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).1

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The claimant’s allegations are detailed in his narrative of his Basis of Claim Form (BOC), signed on March 14, 2018.2

[3]       In summary, his evidence indicates that he had an out-of-wedlock relationship with a Christian woman named [XXX], whom he met her in 2016. In support of [XXX] existence, he submitted two photographs,3 and testified under oath that the woman depicted in the two photographs is [XXX].

[4]       In January 2017, the claimant told his parents that he intended to marry a Christian woman, with whom he had a sexual relationship with. His parents disapproved. The claimant alleged that in early February 2017, he was threatened and humiliated by one of [XXX] male relatives while he was walking on the street and holding hands with [XXX]. She left him, and walked away. He alleged that he has not seen her since, and he was later blocked from her Facebook account.

[5]       He alleged that while he was walking home on February 13, 2017, he was hit by a car. He lost consciousness, and was taken to the hospital by a bystander. He was hospitalized for three days. In support of this allegation, the claimant submitted a copy of the complaint form he had filed with the police, dated February 13, 2017, against an unknown driver.4 He also submitted a copy of a medical report, dated February 16, 2017.5

[6]       The claimant alleged that during the incident he lost his phone and belongings. The claimant speculated and alleged that this incident was orchestrated by [XXX] family, in attempt to kill him. He further states that neither [XXX] nor any of his family members visited him while he was in the hospital.

[7]       The claimant alleged that he has not heard from [XXX] since he was blocked from her Facebook. However, the claimant’s friend, [XXX], in the United States (US), did speak to her once via Facebook Messenger, in order to encourage [XXX] to go to the US with the claimant. Subsequently, [XXX] Facebook account was closed, and [XXX] was blocked. Thus, [XXX] and the claimant have not been able to contact her via social media since April 2017.6

[8]       The claimant alleged that his four brothers and uncles have disowned him officially because of the hateful relationship between the claimant’s tribe and [XXX] tribe.7

[9]       The claimant testified that he fears [XXX] family, that they would try to kill him because he has dishonored them. He explained that he no longer has protection of his own family and tribe, and that the police will not protect him because it is a family honor issue. He fears being a victim of honor killing if he were to return to Jordan.

DETERMINATION

[10]     The panel finds that the claimant is a person in need of protection pursuant to section 97(1) of the IRPA for the following reasons.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[11]     The panel finds that the claimant, on a balance of probabilities, is a citizen of Jordan, and has established his personal identity based on the copy of his original passports.8

Credibility

[12]     Notwithstanding the issue of delay in claiming asylum in Canada, and the credibility assessment of the car incident, given that the culprits were unknown and the claimant merely speculates that [XXX] family had planned it, the panel gives the benefit of the doubt to the claimant’s evidence with respect to having a relationship with [XXX], and accepts that, on a balance of probabilities, the basis of his subjective fear is true.

Objective evidence

[13]     Having considered the totality of the evidence and counsel’s submissions, the panel finds that there is sufficient credible or trustworthy objective evidence before it to support the claimant’s subjective fear.

[14]     The documentary evidence indicates that honor killing persist in Jordan. However, while it refers to women being target of honor killing, it makes no such reference to men. In fact, “[a]ccording to estimates, there are an average of 20-25 so-called honour killings reported every year in Jordan.”9

[15]     According to US Department of State report:

There were no reported instances of forced marriage as an alternative to a potential honor killing during the year, although NGOs noted that many cases of forced marriage occurred shortly after an accusation of rape due to family and societal pressure before any formal trial began. Observers noted that if a woman marries her rapist, according to customary belief, her family members do not need to kill her to “preserve the family’s honor,” a belief that persisted despite the 2017 amendment to the legal code.10

[16]     The review of the documentary evidence indicates that the main victims of honor killings are women, and their family members are also at risk of honor killings. Regarding family members, and disputes between tribes, the claimant submitted a news article, dated May 21, 2018. It notes that, “a group of members of the Shawabkeh tribe, led by a former Royal Guard officer, and seven others, including retired members of the security services, brutally assault[ed] a young Al-Fayez family.”11

[17]     The documentary evidence indicates:

In the past, Article 98 of the Penal Code was applied to reduce penalties for men who perpetrated violent crimes against women, such as murder or assault, after the woman had committed a dishonourable act. Article 98 was amended in 2017 to prevent it from being used to reduce penalties for so-called ‘honour’ crimes against women.12

[18]     A recent Human Rights Watch report indicates that, “[a]ccording to press reports, about 20 women are killed in Jordan each year by male family members in so-called “family honor” crimes.”13

[19]     The panel finds that in the circumstances of this case, on the balance of probabilities, the claimant could be a target of honor killing if he were to return to Jordan.

Protection

[20]     Refugee protection is meant to be a form of surrogate protection to be invoked only in those situations where the refugee claimant has unsuccessfully sought the protection of their home state. The onus is on the refugee claimant to approach the state for protection, in situations where state protection might be reasonably forthcoming.14 In the absence of a compelling explanation, a failure to pursue state protection opportunities within the home state will usually be fatal to a refugee claim, at least, where the state is a functioning democracy with a willingness and the apparatus necessary to provide a measure of protection to its citizens.

[21]     In the case at hand, the state is not the agent of persecution. The claimant fears [XXX] tribe. However, the panel needs to determine whether the state would be willing to offer the claimant protection, if he were to seek state protection.

[22]     The panel notes that the US Department of State report indicates that:

… Jordan is a constitutional monarchy … The constitution concentrates executive and legislative authority in the king…  Elections for the Chamber of Deputies occur approximately every four years and last took place in 2016. International observers deemed the elections organized, inclusive, credible, and technically well run.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.15

[23]     The documentary evidence filed establishes that the police rarely investigate honour killings on their own initiative:

… it is clear that there is a strong connection between tribalism and the protection of women’s rights once cases reach court. One focus group member described this relationship, saying “even at court there are tribal dynamics at play, so it’s not as if it’s two separate systems … they are totally intertwined.”

The state law in Jordan reflects what many believe to be tribal principles in how it deals with men who kill their female relatives they suspect of not being chaste. The bias towards the perpetrators of this crime is evident early in the process. [Human Rights Watch] claims that in Jordan the police rarely investigate so-called honour killings and “typically treat the killers as vindicated men.” Or when the police do conduct an investigation, they routinely conduct faulty investigations that fail to produce enough evidence for conviction.

Tribal processes seem to be primarily used today in Jordan for violations against life, limb and honour. The first of these are referred to as ‘blood crimes’ and criminal responses to violations of the first are known as ‘honour crimes’. A mentioned, tribal principles and processes of dispute resolution are used in Jordan not just by those living nomadically but also by many people of all socioeconomic backgrounds with tribal affiliations living in villages or cities like Amman.16

[24]     The claimant must establish, through clear and convincing evidence, that the state would be unwilling or unable to provide adequate protection if he were to return to his home country, Jordan. In view of the objective evidence noted above, in the circumstances of this case, the panel finds the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection.

Internal flight alternative

[25]     Jordan is a small tribal country. Moreover, the documentary evidence indicates that attitudes towards honour are the same throughout the country.

[26]     In the circumstances of this case, there is no viable internal flight alternative available to the claimant in Jordan.

CONCLUSION

[27]     The panel finds, [XXX], is a person in need of protection pursuant to section 97(1) of the IRPA, as he faces a particularized risk of harm. On a balance of probabilities, his removal to Jorden may subject him to a risk to life, to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, or to a danger of torture.

[28]     The panel therefore accepts his claim.

(signed)           F. Mortazavi

September 19, 2019

1 The 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).
3 Exhibit 6, Photographs.
4 Exhibit 4, Personal Disclosure received August 30, 2019, at pp. 4-5.
5 Ibid., at pp. 6-7.
6 Ibid., at p. 10.
7 Ibid., at p. 8.
8 Exhibit 1, Package of Information from the Referring CBSA/CIC, Certified True Copy of Passport.
9 Ibid item 5.10.
10 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Jordan (August 30, 2019), item 2.1.
11 Exhibit 5, Country Disclosure, at p. 2.
12 Exhibit 3, NDP for Jordan (August 30, 2019), item 5.6.
13 Ibid., item 5.2.
14 Canada (Attorney General) v. Ward, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 689, 103 D.L.R. (4th) 1, 20 Imm. L.R. (2d) 85.
15 Exhibit 3, NDP for Jordan (August 30, 2019), item 2.1.
16 Ibid., item 5.10.

Categories
All Countries Jordan

2019 RLLR 88

Citation: 2019 RLLR 88
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 9, 2019
Panel: Khamissa Khamsi
Counsel for the claimant(s): Tiffani Frederick
Country: Jordan
RPD Number: TB7-23982
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000040-000042


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So [XXX] you claim to be a citizen of Jordan and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). So, I find that you are a Convention refugee and I accept your claim. I’m now going to explain to you the reason why I am accepting your claim. Congratulations first.

[2]       CLAIMANT: Thank you.

[3]       MEMBER: Given the issues that you have presented in your claim, I have considered the Chairperson’s Guidelines on the women refugee claimants fearing gender related persecution. The details of your claim, sorry are to be found in your Basis of Claim form but in short, you fear abuse at the hands of your ex­ husband’s relatives. And all also, at the hands of your relatives. To be more specific you divorced your first husband because of physical abuse and you forfeited the right of custody of your children. And after your husband, your first husband passed away, you refused to marry his younger brother. You married a second time and it also ended in a divorce here in Canada after you were physically abused. Therefore, you are also afraid that your parents would pressure you to go back to your first husband.

[4]       Now with regard to the identified issue.

IDENTITY

[5]       I find that your identity as a national of Jordan has been established by your testimony and by the supporting documents filed, including a Jordanian passport bearing a Canadian visa.

[6]       With regards to credibility, I find you to be a very credible witness and I believe what you have alleged in your claim. You have explained your personal situation as well as the cultural norms in Jordan which have affected your situation. You have testified in a straight forward manner and I didn’t see any inconsistencies between your oral and written testimony. You have provided some supporting documents to corroborate your allegations in particular, your first husbands death certificate and your divorce certificate, as well as court and police documents, with regards to the abuse that happened here in Canada.

[7]       I find that you have a nexus to the convention definition as a woman fearing gender related persecution. In so far as you sustained physical and mental abuse at the hands of your first husband and your family member, due to membership in a particular social group as a victim of family violence. I find that your fear of persecution is both subjectively and objectively well-founded. I have looked at the information contained in the documentation package on the situation faced by women, such as yourself, in Jordan. As well as in the country conditions document package provided by your council.

[8]       I note that problems of domestic and family violence are the most outgoing human rights problems in Jordan. And all the reports, injury report, the most recent ones continue to note that violence against women and honour crimes continue to occur despite the government’s efforts to put an end to such acts. As I indicated previously, I believe that you have testified. I believe what you have about your experiences in Jordan and I believe that your first husband’s relatives may still harm you.

[9]       I also looked at state protection and I asked you questions in this regard. And the information that I have on the availability of protection for women such as yourself and the evidence is quite clear that adequate state protection at an operational level does not exist for you in Jordan from the harm that you fear.

[10]     The reports are consistent with your experience as you described it. And you testified that the state would not be able to protect you because your husband is from a very important tribe in Jordan. I also note that even in the most recent report, for example, for Amnesty International, they report that women remain subject to discrimination in law and in practice. And they are inadequately protected from sexual and other violence, including so called honour crimes.

[11]     I also looked at internal flight alternatives and I find that internal flight alternative does not, not exist for you in Jordan. And the evidence before me states that there is no area where a single woman can attempt to live outside the family home.

[12]     In conclusion, I find that you’re a Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

[13]     Congratulations.

[14]     COUNSEL: Great. Thank you, Madame Member. Thank you so much.

[15]     MEMBER: Your welcome. Madame Interpreter, thank you for a great interpretation as usual.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-