Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2020 RLLR 47

Citation: 2020 RLLR 47
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 10, 2020
Panel: M. Dookun
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amro Hayek
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: TB9-25948
Associated RPD Numbers: TB9-25981, TB9-26023
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000115-000118


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: Based on the information that I have in front of me folks, you Sir, are a [XXX] male. You’re a Stateless Palestinian with a Lebanese travel document. Your wife is a [XXX] female. She’s also a Stateless Palestinian with this-, but she has an Egyptian travel document and the minor claimant is a [XXX]-male and he is also a Stateless Palestinian and he also, like you Sir, has a Lebanese travel document. You are all seeking refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. You Ma’am, served as the designated representative for the minor claimant. I’ll go slower Mr. Interpreter, it looks like you’re having trouble hearing me. I can’t hear you but it looks like you’re having trouble so I’ll go slower.

[2]       Now, the specific details of your claims are set out in your Basis of Claim form, Sir. If I were to simplify what is already in your Basis of Claim form, I would say Sir, that you and the minor claimant fear persecution in Lebanon based on your nationality as Palestinians. You Sir, also fear harm at the hands of Hizballah and I’m going to spell that for the record because this is going to be transcribed. H-I-Z-B-A-L­ L-A-H, because they threatened you in Lebanon in 2011. You feared that they would harm you and harm the minor child out of revenge in-, in order to hurt you. Your wife fears that she-, number one, she would not be allowed to enter Egypt and if she did, then she would face difficulties in Egypt due to her ethnicity as Palestinian as well as other reasons. So, the Panel determines folks, that you are all Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       Now, with regard to your identities, you established all of your identities by way of these certified true copies of your travel documents that I have in Exhibit 1 and you also provided birth certificates for me in Exhibit 5, so I have no concerns with regard to your personal identities.

[4]       Now, with regard to credibility, Ma’am, you-, you didn’t always testify in a straightforward manner. The Panel finds that you did exaggerate your testimony a little bit, especially when, regarding the difficulties in renewing your Egyptian travel document, you described an example of your father getting a number for the que at-, at 3am and that by the time you arrived at 9 am, you weren’t seen because that number had passed. That’s not-, the Panel does not see that as mistreatment per say. If a system is in place where one takes a number and waits for that number to be called and one is not there when the number is called, it’ s not unreasonable that an organization would not take you after that point. It happens even here in Canada at the passport office so, I didn’t-, I-, I felt that you did exaggerate a little bit.

[5]       So, I switched with you and I had your husband testify instead and I find Sir, that you did testify in a very straightforward manner. For example, when you were asked if you had any problems in Lebanon before 2011, you very directly, well, initially, you very directly answered no, you did not have any problems. You did not try to embellish or exaggerate your testimony at that point, which the Panel very much appreciated. Now, e-, even though it seemed later that you changed your testimony to indicate that you did experience problems in Lebanon, the Panel does not draw a negative inference and I’ll tell you why. The first time I asked you, it was suggested that you were being asked whether you had problems with Hizballah before 2011 and you said directly, no. The que-, the second time I asked you, the question was very specific and I said, did you have problems in Lebanon because of your Palestinian nationality. Y-, that’s when you said yes, you did have problems but then you explained that the problems that you experienced as a Palestinian in Lebanon, those problems were so common that you-, you got used to it. You tolerated it, so you didn’t really consider it to be a problem. It was life for you as a Palestinian in Lebanon so I don’t draw a negative inference with regard to the-, the slight change in what might appear to be the slight change in testimony.

[6]       When I asked you whether you-, what the fear was that you had for the minor claimant, you said that you only fear Hizballah and you didn’t mention a fear of persecution by society because of the-, the child’s Palestinian identity. Again, the Panel appreciates that you did not embellish or exaggerate your fear for the minor claimant. So, taking both testimonies into account, the Panel finds that there were no serious contradictions or inconsistencies contained within your testimonies and so the Panel has no serious reason to doubt that your affirmed testimony this afternoon, even though at times exaggerated, for the most part was truthful.

[7]       Now, with regard to the-, the country conditions, I’ll start with Lebanon because that’s the most straightforward for the Panel. The documentary evidence that I have in Exhibit 3 and counsel’s package in Exhibit 5, regarding the situation for Stateless Palestinians in Lebanon. It’ s very clear, it’ s very-, the-, the documentary evidence is very voluminous that Stateless Palestinians face widespread violence, harassment and discrimination that amounts to persecution in Lebanon. Aside from the problems that you’re facing with the Hizballah supporters, even if I don’t take that-, those problems into account, just being a Palestinian in Lebanon is enough Sir, that you and the child would face serious problems. When we combine that with the problems that-, and the threats that you have received from Hizballah supporters, it only increases your risk in Lebanon.

[8]       Now, with regard to Egypt, with counsel-, counsel’s-, with counsel’s guidance, we focused on Exhibit 3, Item 3.4 and that talks about the fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of cases in which Palestinian­ Palestinians with Egyptian travel documents are denied re-entry for various reasons. Palestinians may face detention at the border in Egypt, imprisonment upon arrival or deportation. So that affirms or confirms the female claimant’s fear that she would not even be able to enter Egypt. Now, if she were able to enter Egypt, this same document goes onto say that Palestinians in Egypt are denied rights to secure residency, employment, property and they are considered foreigners in Egypt no matter how long they have lived there. Egyptian laws do not allow foreigners which Palestinians are considered, to exceed 10% of employees in the labour force, so this limits the employment opportunities for Palestinians and then to add to this, as the female claimant indicated, she’s never been to Egypt. She has no friends, she has no family, she has no support in that country and tho-, therefore she would-, she would be and feel even more out of place than Palestinians who have been residing in Egypt.

[9]       So, to conclude, the Panel finds on a balance of probabilities, based on the documentary evidence that the principal claimant and the minor claimant have a well-founded fear of persecution in Lebanon based on their ethnicities. And the female claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Egypt, based on her ethnicity. I should just mention for the record, although it’ s-, it’ s-, it’s implied or it’s well known, I should mention that even though they were born, they were all born in Saudi Arabia, they clearly have no rights to remain or return to Saudi Arabia. So, the Panel finds that the claimants are all Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Refugee Protection Division accepts these claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2020 RLLR 38

Citation: 2020 RLLR 38
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 21, 2020
Panel: T. Nicholson
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Mary Jane Campigotto
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: TB8-25424
Associated RPD Number: TB8-25462
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000058-000065


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       The claimants [XXX] and [XXX] purport to be stateless Palestinian refugees. They have claimed refugee status pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the Act).1

DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

[2]       The claimant [XXX] acted as the designated representative for the minor claimant, [XXX]. He confirmed his knowledge of his responsibilities in this regard prior to the hearing.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimants’ allegations are set out in their Basis of Claim forms (BOCs).2 They allege they are at risk of persecution in Lebanon due to their Palestinian ethnicity.

[4]       The male claimant testified being born in Lebanon, but moving to the United Arab Emirates as an adult, where he created a business [XXX]. The claimant testified to mistakenly arrested in [XXX] on suspicion of being a [XXX] due to confusion of his name with that of a [XXX], which resulted in his name being flagged and him being routinely harassed and threatened in Lebanon on his visits if he did not pay a bribe.

[5]       In [XXX] 2017, the claimant was questioned by UAE intelligence regarding his connections to refugee camps in Lebanon. After refusing to work with them, the claimant attempted to move to Lebanon, but testified to being frightened by an attack by militants.

[6]       The claimants arrived in Canada on valid visas on [XXX] 2018.

DETERMINATION

[7]       The panel concludes that the claimants are Convention refugees.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[8]       The panel was provided with true copies of their Lebanon issued Travel Documents for Palestinian Refugees,3 as well as documents relating to their residency in the UAE.

[9]       The panel finds that the documents, and the testimony of the claimants, are sufficient to establish their identities on a balance of probabilities.

Countries of Habitual Residence

[10]     The claimants are stateless Palestinians. Statelessness per se does not give rise to a claim to refugee status: the claimant must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on a convention ground or that they possess a s.97(1) risk in a country of former habitual residence.

[11]     The concept of “former habitual residence” implies a situation where a stateless person was admitted to a country with a view to enjoying a period of continuing residence for some duration. The claimant does not have to be legally able to return to a country of former habitual residence. The claimant must have established a significant period of de facto residence in the country in question. The claimants must establish that they are persecuted in one country of former habitual residence, and are unable to safely return to any other.4

[12]     The Federal Court of Appeal established that a broad and liberal approach must be taken when assessing a proposed country of former habitual residence: there is no minimum period of residence required in that country, the analysis should not be unduly restrictive, the claimant does not need to be able to legally return; and the claimant must have established some significant period of de facto residence there.5

[13]     The male claimant and minor claimant lived for most of their lives in the UAE. The panel finds that the UAE is a country of habitual residence for them.

[14]     The claimants were able to legally enter and return to Lebanon, and if they had not gone to the United States and then Canada, they likely would have been required to return to Lebanon. The male claimant was born in Lebanon, the claimants presented documents that were provided to the claimants by the government of Lebanon, and the male claimant testified to having extensive family in Lebanon, and testified to intending to live in Lebanon with the minor claimant permanently.

[15]     The panel finds these circumstances are significant and substantially connect the claimants to Lebanon, and that Lebanon is a country of habitual residence for the claimants.

Nexus

[16]     The panel finds that the claimants have established a nexus to the convention, namely through their ethnicity as stateless Palestinians in Lebanon.

Credibility

[17]     The panel had serious issues with regard to the male claimant’s credibility.

[18]     The male claimant was, at times, flippant and dismissive of repeated questions from the panel. The claimant caused a considerable procedural difficulty at the first hearing date, when he admitted that he did not understand English to the extent required to understand his BOC without interpretation.

Incident in Lebanon

[19]     The claimant indicated that he was attacked by militants on his return to Lebanon in 2018. He testified that two men on motorcycles stopped the car he was travelling in on [XXX] 2018, seized him, beat him, stated they were from Hezbollah and would follow him wherever he went.

[20]     It was pointed out to the claimant that his BOC did not mention that the attackers threatened the claimant, did not mention the claimant was driving a car, did not mention that the attackers were on motorcycles, and did not mention the attackers had mentioned they were members of Hezbollah.

[21]     The claimant responded that he did not remember the situation very well.

[22]     The panel finds it unlikely that the claimant, given the claimant testified it was his only physical interaction with persecutors, would make so many mistakes in his description.

[23]     The panel rejects the claimant’s explanation for the omissions, and draws a negative inference with regard to his credibility.

[24]     Given the vast difference between the male claimant’s description of the incident in his BOC and in his testimony, the panel finds that the incident did not happen and that the claimant is not pursued by Hezbollah.

Other Incidents in Lebanon

[25]     However, the panel finds that the claimant has, through his testimony, established that he is a stateless Palestinian.

[26]     The claimant testified to having to pay a bribe every time he went through the airport, and to having family members who died in the camps from intrareligious warfare, and to having had difficulties as a businessman working in Lebanon due to his statelessness. It was also made clear that the minor claimant would have difficulty obtaining schooling and social services due to her status as a stateless Palestinian.

[27]     The panel accepts that the claimants are stateless Palestinians and the claimant’s description of the incident of 1983 and the resulting issues, which were presented in detail and made clear by the claimant’s testimony. The panel finds that the claimants have been subject to discrimination that, in its severity, amounted to persecution due their status as stateless Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates

[28]     The claimant credibly testified that, due to his last name, he was questioned by UAE security forces, and that he was asked to offer intelligence to UAE security. The claimant refused, which he testified put a mark on his security record.

[29]     Through documentary evidence,6 the panel finds that the claimant has established his status has been revoked in the UAE and finds that, on a balance of probabilities, he would be unable to return given his security issues.

SUBJECTIVE BASIS

[30]     The male claimant indicated he was afraid of returning to Lebanon due to the profile given to him by his last name and the treatment he suffered. The panel finds that the claimants have established a subjective fear of persecution.

OBJECTIVE BASIS

[31]     Objective evidence indicates that the claimants’ options as stateless Palestinians would be limited to either living in one of the refugee camps near Beirut, the conditions of which are described by the United Nations as “deplorable,”7 or to attempt to live in general Lebanese society without familial connections, which objective evidence indicates is bereft of all but menial employment and features extremely limited housing opportunities, as well as reduced access to social services and healthcare.8

[32]     Militant groups are common in Palestinian refugee camps and frequently engage in violent conduct against fellow Palestinians within the camps, including arrest and kidnapping of outsiders in camps without judicial oversight and without protection by Lebanese authorities.9 Objective evidence indicates that this is a risk regularly faced by stateless Palestinians in Lebanon.10

[33]     The panel finds that the claimants have an objective basis for their claim of persecution in Lebanon as stateless Palestinians, and that they would face a well-founded fear if they were to return there, given their lack of connections, the primary claimant’s age, and their status as stateless Palestinians.

STATE PROTECTION

[34]     The state is presumed able to provide adequate protection to its citizens. Therefore, claimants have the duty to seek state protection before seeking protection in Canada. However, in certain circumstances, it would be objectively unreasonable to expect a claimant to do so. Furthermore, the protection available to a claimant may not be adequate given their specific circumstances.

[35]     Lebanon does not provide state protection in Palestinian camps.11 Objective evidence notes that the security situation is generally poor throughout Lebanon for Palestinian refugees,12 and there is a “crisis of governance” in Palestinian camps that means Peoples Committees are generally seen as being unable to protect their constituents from harassment from Lebanese forces harassing their residents.13

[36]     The panel finds that the claimants have rebutted the presumption that adequate state protection exists for them in Lebanon with clear and convincing evidence.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE (IFA)

[37]     The claimants were asked if they would be able to live elsewhere in Lebanon, and were given the example of Beirut. The panel finds that the claimants would face persecution as stateless Palestinians throughout Lebanon.14

[38]     The panel finds that the claimants would not have an IFA in all of Lebanon.

CONCLUSION

[39]     The panel finds that the claimants face a serious possibility of persecution in Lebanon and can not return to the United Arab Emirates.

[40]     The panel accepts their claims.

(signed)           T. Nicholson

January 21, 2020

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4.
3 Exhibit 1.
4 Thabet v. MC.I., [1998] 4 FC 21 (F.C.A.).
5 Maarouf v. Canada, [1994] 1 F.C.R. 723 (F.C.A).
6 Exhibit 5, pages 32-37.
7 Ibid., item 13.1.
8 Ibid., item 13.1.
9 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Lebanon (29 March 2019), item 13.1.
10 Ibid., item 13.2.
11 Ibid., item 13.1.
12 Ibid., item 13.5.
13 Ibid., item 13.1.
14 Ibid., item 13.1.

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2019 RLLR 77

Citation: 2019 RLLR 77
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 20, 2019
Panel: Preeti Adhopia
Counsel for the claimant(s): Raj Sharma
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: VB8-04396
RPD Associated Number(s): VB8-04395
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000243-000249


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claims of [XXX] (principal claimant) and her youngest son, [XXX] (minor claimant), as citizens of Lebanon who are 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 48-year-old woman who was born in [XXX], but moved with her family to [XXX] in the Bekka Valley when the war broke out. In 1993, her marriage to a second cousin was arranged by her family. After a couple of months, her husband, [XXX], became abusive. He would regularly humiliate push, punch, kick, pinch and beat her. He also routinely raped her. The violence would continue even while she was pregnant. When her first child was born, the principal claimant’s husband was angered because it was a girl. This was repeated for her second and third daughters. Her husband was also controlling and demanded that the principal claimant cover her hair. When she did not do so, he taunted her about being a bad Muslim in front of guests until she finally relented.

[3]       Although the principal claimant’s fourth child was a son, [XXX] was abusive towards him too, not to mention the other children. The principal claimant gave birth to the minor claimant nine years after her last child and when he was just one week old, she was bathing him when her husband demanded lunch. When she asked him to wait a moment, he grabbed the minor claimant by the arm and threw him on the bed and beat the principal claimant. When the minor claimant did not appear able to move his arm, [XXX] begrudgingly agreed to let the principal claimant take him to a doctor. It was determined that the baby had nerve damage. The minor claimant still has difficulty moving his arm today.

[4]       [XXX] forced the principal claimant’s eldest daughter to marry a much older man when she was 20. He also started demanding that her eldest son join Hezbullah. The principal claimant and this son agreed that he would run away if his father forced him to join. The principal claimant was treated even more violently by [XXX] who insisted that she had made their son weak. She began to believe he would kill her. As a result, the principal claimant left her husband and made a complaint at the prosecutor’s office in a nearby town. There, she was advised to submit a document to a police station. She decided against doing so because her husband’s cousins work at that station.

[5]       The principal claimant decided her only option was to leave the country so she sought the help of her brother who lives in Canada. But, her Canadian visa application was denied. She decided to leave her husband anyway and asked for the help of a close friend who lives in a Beirut suburb. She travelled to her house and stayed there for two days without letting anyone else know about her whereabouts. The principal claimant rented a place near her friend’s home which she paid for with her brother’s help. She did not leave the apartment for two weeks out of fear. She then began going out a little for a month before her husband, armed with a gun, came to her door and forced her to return home where she was brutally beaten. He threatened to kill her if she tried to leave again. He even refused to allow her to see her dying grandmother and threw a knife at her to make his point.

[6]       With her brother’s assistance, the principal claimant applied for another Canadian visa and included the minor claimant in the application which was accepted. With the help of her eldest daughter and son-in-law, the claimants secretly left the country. When [XXX] discovered this, he disowned his daughter and harassed the principal claimant’s father. The claimants fear that if they return to Lebanon, they will face persecution and other risks from [XXX].

DETERMINATION

[7]       I find that, pursuant to section 96 of the Act, the claimants are Convention refugees as they have a well-founded fear of persecution related to a Convention ground in Lebanon.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[8]       The claimants’ identities as nationals of Lebanon are established by their passports in evidence. I am satisfied of their identities by these documents.

Credibility

[9]       At the hearing, the principal claimant gave clear, direct and succinct testimony that was natural and clearly unrehearsed. Her voice would often soften to a whisper when describing specifics of the violence, particularly in relation to the minor claimant. 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. The claimants submitted evidence to corroborate some of their allegations. This includes statements from the principal claimant’s brother, four eldest children, son-in-law and friend who all confirm [XXX] abuse and the principal claimant’s efforts to leave him. Also in evidence are some doctor’s notes pertaining to the claimants’ injuries and the complaint to the prosecutor. These documents substantiate the abuse suffered by the claimants. The objective country condition evidence in the National Documentation Package (NDP) also verifies the prevalence of domestic violence in Lebanon and the inadequate measures to address the problem. Based on the presumption of truthfulness, the principal claimant’s consistent testimony and the corroborative evidence, I accept her allegations as credible.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[10]     I find that the principal claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution based on her status as a woman in Lebanon. Gender-based violence in Lebanon is tolerated, ignored and perpetuated by patriarchal structures in Lebanese society. The principal claimant endured 25 years of routine verbal, physical and sexual abuse by her husband who controlled her life. When she tried to leave him, she was discovered and further brutalized. Her husband threatened to kill her in the past and reiterated his intention when he learned she had fled to Canada. The minor claimant also suffered abuse at the hands of his father starting from infancy. This past abuse demonstrates a prospect of continued violence that can be characterized as serious, sustained and systematic human rights violations amounting to persecution. As the principal claimant’s fear of persecution is based on her membership in a particular social group, her allegations form a nexus to the Convention. Since the principal claimant’s allegations are grounded in the Convention, the minor claimant derives a nexus from her claim as a family member. The objective evidence corroborates the fact that gender-based violence in Lebanon is a very serious problem.

[11]     Act for Human Rights Lebanon (ALEF) reveals a grim fact about the situation for women; Lebanon ranked 137 out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality which is evident in every-day life.2 A Response to Information Request (RIR) cites an estimate that one woman a month is killed by a family member in Lebanon, usually her husband.3 It goes on to state that gender-based violence is serious and widespread and women are also victims of discrimination both in law and practice. Furthermore, women cannot depend on family to prevent violence as they rarely receive their family’s support. Finally, the RIR finds that customs and beliefs have ‘normalized’ violence against women in Lebanon.

[12]     The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) maintains that under-reporting of domestic abuse remains high, as many women are afraid to speak out about violence they experience at home for fear of being blamed for the abuse, or of bringing shame on the family.4 In addition, social and family pressure, as well as lack of financial independence, compels many women to remain in abusive relationships and they are sometimes instructed to return to abusive husbands by religious courts.

[13]     The Department of State (DOS) finds that while the law in Lebanon criminalizes domestic violence, “it does not specifically provide protection for women.”5 Despite maximum sentencing law of 10 years in prison for battery, some religious courts may legally require a battered wife to return to her home despite physical abuse. The DOS goes on to confirm that women suffer discrimination under the law and in practice. It reports that in matters of child custody, inheritance and divorce, personal status laws provide unequal treatment across the various confessional court systems but generally discriminate against women.

[14]     The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) concludes that women in Lebanon face a “high risk of societal and official discrimination, and a high risk of societal violence.”6

[15]     The evidence reveals that domestic violence in Lebanon is prevalent. Based on the past violence suffered by the claimants, the ongoing threats to harm them further and the treatment of women in Lebanon generally, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution if the claimants return.

State Protection

[16]     In this case, I do not find that the claimants are likely to obtain adequate state protection. The principal claimant attempted to make a complaint against her husband, but could not see it through in view of her husband’s relatives who are employed by the police. I accept that this posed a reasonable barrier for her. However, the authorities will and capacity to protect women from violence is inadequate.

[17]     DFAT finds that generally, Lebanese authorities do not provide effective protection though this depends on the area concerned. Several areas in Lebanon are not under effective state control due to the presence of Hezbullah, so the authorities are largely absent there. According to the RIR in evidence, “it is not mandatory for police officers, lawyers, physicians, social counsellors, colleagues in the workplace, neighbours, friends, clergymen, or any other potential witness of women subjected to family violence to report such abuse.” Furthermore, the RIR states that the police often do not take the complaints from women seriously and by going to a police station, women risk being ridiculed and subjected to other forms of harassment. The OECD confirms that police are reluctant to intervene in domestic violence which is considered a taboo issue. It notes that “honour crimes” are rarely prosecuted and are often reported as suicides.

Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)

[18]     I also do not find that relocation in the claimants’ circumstances is reasonable. Internal relocation is “highly dependent” on an individual’s financial constraints and connections; those with financial limitations and without connections find it difficult to relocate in Lebanon.7 I considered that the principal claimant is a middle-aged, high school graduate who has never held a job in Lebanon. Her ability to support herself and her son in another city is therefore quite limited, particularly given income inequality and other disadvantages women experience. As discussed earlier, there are areas that are not under state control which also hampers relocation. An IFA is not, therefore, viable.

CONCLUSION

[19]     Having considered all of the evidence, I find that the claimants are Convention refugees as set out in section 96 of the Act. Their claims are therefore accepted.

(signed)           Preeti Adhopia

September 20, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27.
2 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP), Lebanon, March 29, 2019, Item 2.8.
3 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.2 Response to Information Request (RIR) LBN104656.FE.
4 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.3.
5 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.1.
6 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.5.
7 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.5.

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2019 RLLR 57

Citation: 2019 RLLR 57
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 18, 2019
Panel: Marie-Andrée Lalonde
Counsel for the claimant(s): Chelsea Peterdy
Country: Lebanon 
RPD Number: TB8-07412
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000122-000128


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       The claimant, [XXX], a citizen of Lebanon, claims refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

[2]       The claimant bases her claim on membership in a particular social group: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution. The case is, thus, assessed according to section 96 of the IRPA.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimant listed in response to question (2a) of her Basis of Claim (BOC) numerous incidents, where she has been severely beaten by her husband between 1998 and 2017.

[4]       The claimant was forced to marry, [XXX], a man chosen by her aunt when the claimant turned 16 years old. The claimant made objection to this marriage to no avail. She was officially married 5 years later.

[5]       She described in response to question 2(a) of her BOC how she was verbally, emotionally and sexually abused over a period of 20 years of married life with [XXX].

[6]       She was living at her in-law’s house during the first years of her marriage. Members of her in-law’s family were also rude and abusive towards the claimant. She was hit and attacked physically by her sister-in-law and [XXX]’s parents.

[7]       The claimant indicated that she had problems getting pregnant. She was often insulted for this health difficulty. She was beaten and had to be taken to the hospital several times. She was treated at a clinic which was run by [XXX]’ s cousins. She could not make any report to the authorities. All aspects of her life were under the control of the [XXX] family. The worse incidents occurred in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and are fully described in the narrative and its addendum.

[8]       In 2014, the claimant’s sister called for assistance. She had breast cancer. The claimant was given permission to come to Canada to help her sister with her treatment and with her nephew, which needed much attention. During her first visit she overstayed her visa. She was asked to leave Canada.

[9]       During her absence her family had indicated that her husband was told by elders to change his conduct. She returned to Lebanon with her nephew.

[10]     However, soon after the claimant’s return to Algeria, her husband started to beat her up again. The claimant sent her nephew at her parent’s home. After two weeks she went to stay at her parents’ place. Her sister asked her again to return to Canada. The claimant’s brother intervened to obtain permission to leave Algeria from her husband. The claimant obtained permission to leave.

[11]     During that sojourn in Canada, the claimant learned about the possibility of making a refugee protection claim.

[12]     The claimant indicated that she learned from her mother that her husband agreed to divorce her. He would have gone twice to see an imam for the procedure. It is only after the third time that a certificate can be issued. She did not yet receive the divorce certificate. However, she understands that she can make an application for divorce from Canada. She was pleased to hear of this possibility to ensure that she would be fully free from her aggressor who has been abusing her for more than 20 years.

Credibility

[13]     I find that the claimant was credible on all the aspects of her claim. She described the ordeal that she had suffered. The claimant provided, at Exhibit 6, the mental assessment done by Dr. [XXX]. Moreover, personal documents adduced at exhibit 5 also corroborate the situation of women who are living similar domestic situations. Counsel adduced extra documents on the topic, which corroborates the lack of protection for women fearing gender-related persecution in Algeria.

[14]     Considering the quality of her testimony, which was devoid of exaggerations, incoherence or embellishments, the panel finds the claimant credible.

State Protection

[15]     The panel, following the Chairperson’s Guidelines for Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution, stipulate in that a woman cannot ask protection from a state who is not respecting women’s rights and offering adequate protection to women. Such is the case in Algeria. According to Response to Information Request: Number: LBN104656.FE, Exhibit 3, item 5.2.: Sources report that Lebanese women are victims of discrimination in their country both in law and practice (AI 23 May 2013; U.S. 19 Apr. 2013, 28; Human Rights Watch Jan. 2013, 4). Some sources specifically note that certain provisions of the legislation relating to the status of the person discriminate against women (ibid.; Freedom House 2013; UN 2011, 14-15). These sources also state that such legislation is linked to the religion to which the person belongs (Human Rights Watch Jan. 2013, 4; Freedom House 2013; UN 2011, 14-15). The treatment of women thus varies based on their religious affiliation (ibid.; U.S. 19 Apr. 2013, 28; Freedom House 2013). These sources state that, in general terms, the legislation is such that women are disadvantaged with regard to divorce, child custody and succession (U.S. 19 Apr. 2013, 28; Human Rights Watch Jan. 2013, 4; Freedom House 2013).

[16]     Moreover: Sources note that there are no official statistics on domestic violence in Lebanon (consultant 8 Nov. 2013; independent researcher 29 Oct. 2013; U.S. 19 Apr. 2013, 27). However, according to a report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), “gender-based violence is prevalent in Lebanon in different forms, including domestic/marital physical, sexual and psychological violence” (UN 2012, 8). According to the Country Reports for 2012, “there was a broad consensus that domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a serious and widespread problem in the country” (U.S. 19 Apr. 2013, 27). An article published on the website of the international television network TV5 Monde states that [translation] “the project director for KAFA, a Lebanese organization combating violence against women, is of the opinion that domestic violence against women ‘is the most common form of abuse and is not subject to economic or community barriers”‘ (TVS Monde 19 Nov. 2011). In written correspondence sent to the Research Directorate, a gender consultant who conducts research and writes on violence against women in Lebanon, and who taught at Lebanese University (Universite libanaise) until 2008, states that it is [translation] “well known that domestic violence (…) is underreported” in the country (gender consultant 8 Nov. 2013). The author of the TV5 Monde article also notes that [translation] “the phenomenon is more widespread than generally presumed” (19 Nov. 2011).

[17]     Sources report that it is estimated that one woman a month is killed by a family member in Lebanon (gender consultant 8 Nov. 2013; UN 8 Mar. 2012; Nasawiya 27 Feb. 2012).

[18]     Therefore, based on the documentary evidence there is clear and convincing evidence that adequate state protection is not available to the claimant.

[19]     The United States. Department of State. Lebanon. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, (Exhibit 3, item 2.1) states the following in its most recent report:

[20]     The law criminalizes domestic violence, but it does not specifically provide protection for women. Despite a law that sets a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for battery, some religious courts may legally require a battered wife to return to her home despite physical abuse. Foreign domestic workers, usually women, often suffered from mistreatment, abuse, and in some cases rape or conditions akin to slavery. Some police, especially in rural areas, treated domestic violence as a social, rather than criminal, matter.

[21]     NGOs and activists criticized the domestic violence law, claiming that it does not sufficiently protect victims or punish abusers, whom they alleged often received disproportionately light sentences. On January 29, activists gathered in downtown Beirut to protest perceived inaction by the judiciary and security forces to respond to such cases after at least eight women died in domestic violence incidents through January. Examples included a woman whose husband shot her outside their home in front of neighbors following a dispute. On April 25, a judge issued an indictment and called for the death penalty for the husband who had fled to Syria but subsequently returned and surrendered to investigators.

[22]     Women continue to face discrimination under the 15 distinct religion-based personal status laws. Discrimination includes inequality in access to divorce, residence of children after divorce, and property rights. Unlike Lebanese men, Lebanese women cannot pass on their nationality to foreign husbands and children and are subject to discriminatory inheritance laws. Human Rights Watch, January 2018, (item 2.3, P.4)

[23]     The claimant over the years had asked for divorces several times. Each request was ignored. She had no possibility of complaining to the authorities. The claimant felt that it would make things worse.

[24]     In such a country context for women, the claimant has met the burden of proof that the state turns a blind eye on women victim of domestic violence.

IFA

[25]     Documentary evidence regarding the lack of state protection shows that it applies to the whole country, thus, confirms a lack of adequate state protection throughout Lebanon. Under such circumstances, as the State is turning a blind eye on the problems of domestic violence done to women, it is reasonable to find that state protection would not be forthcoming in her case. Therefore, there is no viable internal flight alternative (IFA) for the claimant under these conditions.

Conclusion

[26]     Therefore, after finding that the claimant is credible, the objective country condition reports in evidence and the claimant’s supporting documents (exhibit 4 and 6), the claimant demonstrated objectively that she has more than a mere possibility of being persecuted upon return to Lebanon.

DECISION

[27]     The claim is accepted

(signed)           Marie-Andrée Lalonde

November 18, 2019

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2019 RLLR 52

Citation: 2019 RLLR 52
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 8, 2019
Panel: D. Morris, L. Hartslief, J. Kushner
Counsel for the claimant(s): Jasmina Mrkalj-Skelly
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: TB7-24110
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000080-000088


REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       The claimant, a 74-year-old stateless Palestinian, is seeking refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).1

DETERMINATION

[2]       The panel determines that the claimant is a Convention refugee because she faces a serious possibility of persecution in her country of former habitual residence, Lebanon, due to her membership in a particular social group, namely as the family member of a political opponent of Hezbollah.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The allegations respecting the basis of the claimant’s fear in Lebanon are set out in her Basis of Claim (BOC) form.2

[4]       The claimant and several members of her family have been targeted for violence and extortion by armed groups in Lebanon. Most recently, the claimant herself was targeted after her son was kidnapped by Hezbollah after coming into conflict with his wife’s brother, who is a member of Hezbollah. After the claimant attempted to relocate to another part of Lebanon, she was located, threatened and assaulted by members of Hezbollah, who view her and her family as being in opposition to them. Hezbollah view the family as opponents because male members of the family, including her son [XXX], have consistently refused to associate themselves with or otherwise support the group.

[5]       The claimant fears that she will be harmed or killed by Hezbollah if she returns to Lebanon.

ANALYSIS

Identity and Statelessness

[6]       The claimant was born in Palestine in 1945, fled Palestine during the war in 1948 and lived in [XXX] in Lebanon until she fled to Canada in 2017. Though born in Palestine and living for many years in Lebanon, the claimant has no citizenship in any country.

[7]       On a balance of probabilities, the panel finds that the claimant has established that she is a stateless Palestinian whose country of former habitual residence is Lebanon. This is based on her testimony, the testimony of her son [XXX], who appeared as a witness, as well as the claimant’s Lebanon ID Card, Lebanon Travel Document for Palestinian Refugees, Lebanon General Security Travel Document, and her various Canadian Temporary Residence Visas.3

[8]       Based on this evidence, the panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant is not a citizen of any country. Her significant period of de facto residence in Lebanon for more than 70 years leads the panel to the conclusion that her only country of former habitual residence is Lebanon. The panel finds that she does not have a right to return to or obtain citizenship in any other country. The country of reference for this claim is therefore determined to be Lebanon.

Credibility

[9]       The panel had some credibility concerns with respect to certain aspects of the claimant’s testimony. However, in assessing this case the panel was cognizant of the claimant’s advanced age and her limited formal education.4

[10]     The panel’s concerns arose mainly from the claimant’s difficulty in recounting details of incidents set out in her BOC. In testimony, she admitted that her daughter, [XXX] and her son, [XXX] had both been with her while she was completing her BOC and helped her write her narrative.

[11]     A thorough review of the BOC shows that, for the most part, the only incidents in which the claimant was directly involved occurred after her son [XXX] had fled the country. The panel is of the view that, more likely than not, the claimant was assisted to recount stories in her BOC that had occurred to other members of her family (as is clear from the narrative) but of which she had little firsthand knowledge. The panel’s concerns were largely addressed by the testimony of her son [XXX] who was able to recount in greater detail the reasons for his flight from Lebanon and how this situation affected his mother:

The claimant’s son [XXX], who is also a stateless Palestinian, fled Lebanon in 2015 and was recognised as a Convention refugee by the Refugee Protection Division in [XXX] 2017.5 [XXX] testimony and the reasons for his recognition as a Convention refugee in Canada, corroborate the claimant’s story as follows: that [XXX] had come into conflict with Hezbollah and with his ex-wife’s brother, [XXX], who was also a member of Hezbollah;

[XXX] had been kidnapped by Hezbollah outside of Beirut in July of 2015 and suffered fairly severe injuries during his captivity;

After [XXX] departed Lebanon the claimant started to receive threats from the same persons who had kidnapped and threatened him, and;

[XXX] had tried to have a committee from [XXX] intervene on his behalf with Hezbollah but that these efforts were rebuffed by [XXX].

[12]     As stated above, the panel also considered the claimant’s age and educational background in coming to its decision. The panel finds that the claimant tried to be as forthcoming as possible and to recount events to the best of her ability. As it relates to the events that she experienced following her son’s departure from Lebanon, the panel found the claimant to be credible.

[13]     The panel therefore finds that the claimant does have a credible fear of the persons who had attacked her son and that she did start to receive threats after he had finally departed Lebanon.

Re-availment and Delay in Claiming in Canada

[14]     While re-availment or delay may not necessarily be determinative of a particular claim, they might be evidence of a lack of subjective fear on behalf of the claimant.

[15]     The claimant travelled to Canada on three previous occasions prior to her arrival in [XXX] 2017, returning to Lebanon each time. There are copies of Canadian Temporary Resident Visas on record for each of these trips.6 The last of these was between [XXX] 2014 and [XXX] of 2015 with the claimant returning to Lebanon on [XXX] 2015.

[16]     With regard to her previous trips to Canada and return to Lebanon, the claimant testified that it was never her intention to claim refugee status on those trips. The panel finds this consistent with her statements that it was only after [XXX] had finally left Lebanon for good, after being assaulted and tortured by Hezbollah in [XXX] 2015, that the claimant herself came into conflict with a member of Hezbollah and she began to fear for her own safety.

[17]     With regard to her most recent trip to Canada, the claimant delayed in making her claim for approximately [XXX] weeks (she arrived in Canada on [XXX] 2017 and submitted her claim on 3 December 2017). In testimony, the claimant stated that her intention was to return to Lebanon once the situation there had settled. However, while in Canada the claimant was informed by her daughter, [XXX], that the claimant’s home in [XXX] had been taken over by Hezbollah and that Hezbollah continued to seek the claimant out. It was then that the claimant realized it would not be possible for her to return to Lebanon.

[18]     The panel finds that this explanation is reasonable under the circumstances and is consistent with the explanation provided in her BOC.

[19]     The panel therefore finds the claimant’s subjective fear is not impugned by this delay or the fact that she had returned to Lebanon after her previous trips to Canada.

Objective Basis – Country Conditions

[20]     The country conditions outlined in the National Documentation Package (NDP) include reports which speak to the systemic discrimination facing Palestinians who reside in Lebanon, as well as the general security conditions in the country, particularly within the Palestinian camps.7 It shows that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon suffer from severe discrimination and are denied basic civil and political rights, regardless of their long term residence in the country.

[21]     Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention or the 1967 protocol and does not recognize the basic rights of people with refugee status.8

[22]     Palestinian refugees who live in Lebanon are denied citizenship rights and are subjected to racism, arbitrary arrest, kidnapping and torture.9

[23]     Human rights abuses persist within the Palestinian camps and in Lebanon in general. These include the arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians by autonomous Palestinian security groups.10 The documentation confirms the claimant’s allegation that Hezbollah and other factions extra-judicially arrest and abuse refugees.

Authorities failed to observe many provisions of the law, and government security forces, as well as extralegal armed groups such as Hizballah, continued the practice of extrajudicial arrest and detention, including incommunicado detention.

NGOs reported that most cases involved vulnerable groups such as refugees … 11

[24]     These armed groups operate without the supervision of any official judicial systems.12

[25]     The documentation also supports the claimant’s assertion that her family had tried to resolve their issue with Hezbollah through a committee in [XXX]. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] has reported that:

Palestinian groups in refugee camps operated an autonomous and arbitrary system of justice outside the control of the state. For example, local popular committees in the camps attempted to resolve disputes using tribal methods of reconciliation.13

[26]     The objective evidence therefore corroborates the general elements of the claimant’s allegations, including the impunity with which Hezbollah and other armed groups operate in Lebanon.

[27]     Having considered all of this evidence, the panel finds that the claimant faces more than a mere possibility of persecution based on her membership in a particular social group, namely as the family member of a political opponent of Hezbollah.

State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative

[28]     A state is presumed to be able to provide adequate state protection. To rebut the presumption of state protection, a claimant must provide “clear and convincing evidence.”14   The claimant must establish that state protection in inadequate. If the claimant is able to show the absence of protection anywhere in the country, there will be no internal flight alternative (IFA).

[29]     The claimant’s testimony and the documentary evidence referenced above make it clear that state protection or relocation within Lebanon are not options for the claimant. Severe discrimination against Palestinians is widespread and systematic throughout all the country, particularly outside of the refugee camps.15 The US Department of State notes that, ” … Hizballah, and other extremist elements operated outside the direction or control of government officials.”16

[30]     Within the camps, UNHCR reports that:

Palestinian individuals may reportedly be at risk of being subjected to harassment, threats or abuse at the hands of militant factions in the camps. As the Lebanese authorities have no access to the camps (with the exception of Nahr El-Bared Camp), those at risk can reportedly not seek protection from the Lebanese authorities.17

[31]     This is consistent with the claimant’s statement that she did not seek protection from the authorities because Lebanese authorities are not present in the camps and do not protect the refugees there. The panel therefore concludes that the claimant would not be able to access state protection anywhere in Lebanon.

[32]     With regard to an internal flight alternative, the panel further notes that the claimant did try to relocate from [XXX] to [XXX] and that Hezbollah was able to locate her there.

[33]     The panel therefore finds, on a balance of probabilities, that neither adequate state protection nor an internal flight alternative is available to the claimant.

CONCLUSION

[34]     Having considered the totality of the evidence, based on the foregoing analysis, the panel finds the claimant’s fear of persecution in Lebanon to be well-founded. The panel finds the claimant is a Convention refugee and therefore accepts her claim.

(signed)           D. Morris

Concurred in by:         (signed)           L. Hartslief

                                    (signed)           J. Kushner

May 8, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Exhibit 2
3 Exhibit 1 (Originals are all in the possession of Canadian Immigration authorities).
4 Exhibit 1, Schedule A, question 7.
5 Exhibit 11.
6 Exhibit 1
7 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Lebanon (29 March 2019), item 2.1.
8 Ibid., item 13.5.
9 Ibid., item 13.1.
10 Ibid., item 2.1.
11 Ibid., at p. 9.
12 Ibid., item 13.1.
13 Ibid., item 13.2.
14 Canada (Attorney General) v. Ward, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 689, 103 D.L.R. (4th) I, 20 Imm. L.R. (2d) 85, at pp. 724-726.
15 Exhibit 3, NDP for Lebanon (29 March 2019).
16 Ibid., item 2.1, at p. 1.
17 Ibid., item 13.2, at p. 19.

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2019 RLLR 43

Citation: 2019 RLLR 43
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: August 30, 2019
Panel: Darin Jacques
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: MB7-22271
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274 
ATIP Pages: 000017-000021


[1]        The claimant, [XXX] (file number MB7-22271) is a citizen of Lebanon. He has claimed refugee protection under Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]        I find that you have established a well-founded fear of persecution and I conclude that you are a “Convention refugee” as per Section 96 of the Act.

[3]       In your allegations you provided me with detailed information about your discovery that you were different than other people and that you were attracted to men. You mentioned that you went to Dubai to work.  You eventually lost your job because your sexual orientation was discovered by a manager because you had to maintain employment to remain in the UAE. You had to return to your country of citizenship, Lebanon.

[4]       You mentioned you weren’t long in Lebanon before you were socializing with other gay men. The police what seems to be harassment techniques were staying outside of these areas and you mentioned this morning that how raids are performed, but in your case they seemed to have picked you up and targeted you. They took you to the police station.  They forced you to pay a bribe, but you indicated the implications could have been a lot more serious. They could have held you indefinitely. And there are also laws against that they could have used to charge you.

[5]       So you did pay to secure your release. You just stayed inside. You mentioned this morning that you even ordered food out and that you remained in your apartment. And you decided that you had to leave the country and you came to Canada and claimed refugee protection.

[6]       Now when I’m assessing a claim for refugee status, there are several things I need to take into consideration. Some of those things we discussed this morning directly and for other things I was just able to look at the information in your file.

[7]       Now the first is your identity. The Act, the law requires me to take into account whether claimants have acceptable documentation establishing their identity. In your case, that was easy. You had a passport from Lebanon which contained a visa to Canada. And these documents are sufficient to establish your identity for our purposes this morning.

[8]       The second issue is credibility. When you were testifying this morning, you benefitted from a presumption that your allegations were true. And in speaking with you this morning, I found no reason to doubt your credibility. During the hearing, I asked you numerous questions about your sexual orientation. As an example, you specifically explained the difficulties of living in Lebanese society as a gay man. You also spoke about the… with particularly poignancy about the emotional impact not being able to tell your family had on you.

[9]       Furthermore, you provided some specific evidence to corroborate your allegations. In particular, you provided photos participating in Pride events and you have provided letters and other communications from individuals who are aware of your sexual orientation. In my view, you have provided sufficient evidence to establish your allegations on a balance of probabilities and I conclude that you fear persecution because you are a gay man from Lebanon.

[10]     Now the law requires that a person have a well-founded fear of persecution that is based on a Convention ground. In your case, I find that you face a serious possibility of persecution because of your membership in a particular social group. Now I’ll explain.

[11]     According to the law in Canada, a particular social group includes persons belonging to sexual minorities. And as I just mentioned, you credibly established that you are a gay man from Lebanon. Furthermore, you demonstrated that you face a violation of your basic human rights and I return most specifically to the incident of arrest and your mistreatment by the police. I’ll also mention that is in a context where you are forced to live your sexual identity clandestinely in Lebanon which in itself has a negative cumulative effect on your ability, your well-being.

[12]     The documentary evidence establishes an objective basis for your fear of persecution beyond what you have told me. In Lebanon, sexual minorities are persecuted perhaps less than elsewhere in the Middle East. However, sexual minority groups remain ostracized by Lebanese society. There are sexual assaults, blackmail and threats are common.

[13]     And for all of these reasons, I find that you face severe mistreatments in Lebanon because of your sexual orientation. And pursuant to my findings on State protection, I conclude that your fear of persecution is well-founded.

[14]     Now I just mentioned State protection. The case law on refugee claims establishes a presumption that a State is capable of protecting its citizens. In your case, however, I find that adequate State protection is unavailable to you in Lebanon.

[15]     As you mentioned in your narrative and you mentioned it again this morning, article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits sexual acts which are contrary to nature. And sources report that this provision has been interpreted as banning same-sex relations. Despite other interpretations by the Courts, these provisions are still used by law enforcement to discriminate against sexual minorities and you provided an example of your own experiences this morning and in your narrative.

[16]     The U.S. Department of State reports incidents of violence or discrimination against sexual minorities that are rarely reported. LGBT persons don’t speak to the police or seek legal protection because the authorities consider their relations to be illegal. Sexual minorities fear their exposure of their sexual orientation which represents an obstacle for seeking redress. So in effect, the available documentation indicates that Lebanese authorities are unwilling to provide adequate protection to sexual minorities. And given your particular circumstances, I find that there is clear and convincing evidence sufficient to refute the presumption of State protection.

[17]     Now the final thing I needed to consider was what we call an internal flight alternative, whether you could have moved elsewhere in Lebanon and live safely. This is because the Act requires claimants to demonstrate that they face persecution or risk throughout their countries of nationality. Now in your case, I find that an internal flight alternative does not exist for you in Lebanon.

[18]     According to the documentary evidence … I’m just hanging on to my voice here… in the City of Beirut, there is a growing acceptance of the gay community but it is not reflected in the rest of Lebanon. There are bars and there are clubs that specifically cater to the LGBT community which you mentioned. However, as you also mentioned, homosexuality remains strongly condemned. LGBT persons are verbally abused and sometimes attacked in the street. Conditions require members of sexual minority in Beirut to exercise considerable “discretion”.

[19]     In the present case, I find that you could not relocate within Lebanon and avoid a serious possibility of persecution. You could not live openly as a gay man, as is your right. In effect, I conclude that a viable IFA is not open to you in your country of nationality.

[20]     So in conclusion, I find that you face a serious possibility of persecution based on your membership in a particular social group.

[21]     I conclude that you are a “Convention refugee” as described under Section 96 of the Act. Your claim for refugee protection is therefore granted.

BY CLAIMANT

[22]     Thank you.