Citation: 2020 RLLR 50
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 20, 2020
Panel: Kerry Cundal
Counsel for the Claimant(s): N/A
RPD Number: VB9-04099
Associated RPD Number(s): VB9-04100, VB9-04101, VB9-04102, VB9-04103, VB9-04104, VB9-04105
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000132-000138
— DECISION AND REASONS BY THE MEMBER
Reasons for the decision
 This is the decision of the Refugee protection Division in the claims of the principal claimant, [XXX] and the joint claimants, his [XXX] and their children [XXX] and the two American-born twin boys, [XXX].
 The claimants are seeking refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 Your identities have been established by copies of your passports for each of the claimants.
 As I’ve indicated, the two twin boys [XXX] are citizens of the United States and the other five claimants are from the Palestinian Occupied Territories, Specifically Gaza and your former habitual residences for the principal claimant are Libya, Oman and Gaza. The former habitual residences for the other claimants is Oman as well as Gaza..
 You fear return to Gaza because you fear political persecution at the hands of Hamas. You’ve been involved with the [XXX] in the past when you lived in Gaza and you were subjected to a militia attack against the radio station in which you were physically harmed, including on your right leg and right arm.
 You were also detained twice by Hamas forces and during which time you were physically and psychologically abused during both of those detentions.
 You’ve also given testimony regarding your status in Libya and Oman as the principal claimant, that you were a child when you left Libya, when Khadafi forced out the Palestinians and you’ve also testified that more recently you were forced to leave Oman when you were terminated from your work as a [XXX] in Oman.
 Further details are found in your Basis of Claims forms, some of which I will highlight in this decision.
 I also note that I have applied the Chairperson’s Guideline Number 4 with respect to victims of gender-based persecution, specifically for the joint claimant [XXX] and the three joint minor claimants which are girls.
 I find for the principal claimant, [XXX], the joint claimants, [XXX] that you are Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 of the Act for the reasons that follow.
 With respect to the two joint minor claimants [XXX], I find that they are neither Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 nor persons in need of protection pursuant to section 97 because there is not sufficient evidence with respect to the claim against the United States.
 You testified today as their designated representative. The principal claimant you were the designated representative for all of your children and you testified that with respect to the United States your concern was family separation, that you did not want to be separated from your two minor sons who were born in the United States.
 When I asked you for more examples or details or asked you directly about either persecution for your two boys in the United States or a risk to their lives in the United States, you testified that you did not have those concerns against the United States for your boys and it was more about family separation.
 Accordingly, I find that their claims are not established either as a serious possibility of persecution in the United States or on a balance of probabilities that they face a person risk to their lives, or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment in the United States.
 As I’ve indicated earlier, identity has been established by copies of your passports.
 With respect to credibility, you both testified in a straightforward and consistent manner today and I find that you are both credible witnesses.
 You also provided corroborative documentation in support of your claim at Exhibit 4 and this included a number of item, including letters from the [XXX] and human rights organizations supporting the attack as well as the summons that you’ve received in 2007, in 2010 and further summons from Hamas authorities in 2016 and 2018.
 You also submitted a medical report from [XXX] 2010 as well as – as I’ve indicated – a letter from the [XXX] supporting your work with the [XXX].
 You’ve also provided the termination letter from your employer in Oman and I find that your corroborative evidence also supports your testimony today and supports your credibility.
 For you, the principal claimant, you gave testimony regarding your time in Gaza as a young man, your time with the [XXX]. You also gave testimony regarding engaging in peaceful demonstrations against the human rights abuses by Hamas. You were around 25 years at that time.
 You also gave consistent testimony about the physical abuse that you suffered while you were in detention – and psychological abuse – hitting, beatings, being forces to sit on small chair for extended periods of time, also including psychological abuse during that time.
 You also testified that you did receive some medical help including medication and at least five sessions of counselling after you were released that time from detention.
 Based on the totality of the evidence before me, I find that you have established a nexus to political opinion with respect to your fears of Hamas in Gaza.
 The international law and the refugee law as adopted here in Canada for Stateless Palestinians requires that you must demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of persecution in one of the former habitual residences and that you are unable to return to any of the former habitual residences, and I find that you have met this legal test.
 You have demonstrated through reliable evidence that you have a serious possibility, a well-founded fear of persecution in Gaza if you were to return today and you’ve also given sufficient evidence that you have no right of return either in Libya or Oman which are also former habitual residences for you.
 Accordingly, I find that you have established your case under section 96.
 Now, for your spouse, [XXX] and your three daughters – your three daughters [XXX] I find that they have also a nexus under a Convention ground, specifically membership in a particular social group, not only as family members to you, a victim of political persecution, but also because of gender.
 Your wife and you both gave credible testimony with respect to your fears for your daughters because they are girls. It’s not just because they’re Palestinian, it’ s also because of the different treatment that girls and women receive both in Oman and in Gaza; so restrictions on travel, restrictions on their freedom of movement – not being able to leave the home without males or permission, also not able to dress how they wish. As you testified, even as children, young girls are forced to wear the hijab in Gaza and you’ve testified that you do not wish to have your young girls forced to wear the hijab, that they may not have the understanding of religion until they’re a little bit older and that you’re against this mandatory rule by some of the authorities both in Oman and in Gaza.
 Accordingly, I find that the joint female claimants also have a nexus to gender, membership in a particular social group and that you would face a serious possibility of persecution if you return to Gaza today.
 The test is the same for you and your daughters as stateless Palestinians; that you must have a well-founded fear in one of the former habitual residences and be unable to return to any of the former habitual residences.
 For you, you lived in Gaza, that is a former habitual residence for you and I find that you have established a well-founded fear if you were to return to Gaza today.
 For your daughters, I also find that they have established a well-founded fear in Oman, as young girls, as Palestinian young girls, who would not have freedom of movement, who would face ongoing discrimination not only because of their heritage as Palestinians, but also because of their gender and would not have freedom of movement or even freedom to control their own bodies or wear what they wish in Oman as well.
 They would also face a forward-looking serious possibility of persecution and based on the totality of the evidence I find that you’ve each established that also do not have a right of return, to return to either Oman or, of course, we’ve indicated already the persecution in Palestine due to your husband’s detentions and the threats that were made by Haas authorities directly against his family members to intimidate him during detention as well.
 With respect to state protection and internal flight alternative, the objective evidence in the National Documentation Package also supports your testimonies today. For example, the National Documentation Package item 2.1 which is a US Department of State Report with respect to Gaza and the Palestinian-occupied territories indicates that Hamas is responsible for unlawful and arbitrary killings, reports of systematic torture, reports of arbitrary detention, political prisoners, arbitrary unlawful interference with privacy, family and home, undue restrictions on freedom of expression, undue restrictions on freedom of the press and journalists and radio, substantial interference with rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association, significant restrictions on freedom of movement, restrictions on political participation — there has been no national election since 2006 — corruption, unlawful recruitment of child soldiers, threats of violence motivated by anti-Semitism, violence or threats also targeting women, and women are also discriminated further with respect to their dress and even further restrictions on their freedom of movement as well in the Hamas-controlled Gaza.
 National Documentation Package item 10.6, a Human Rights Watch Report 2018 reiterates much of the same evidence and gives more specific details with respect to the kind of physical and psychological persecution that the Hamas authorities mete out against their detainees which is consistent with your testimony.
 This report indicates that the Hamas authorities in Gaza will blindfold detainees. They’ll force them stand or they force them to sit in small chairs for extended periods of time, usually during interrogations, to pressure them to confess. Detainees cannot speak, move, take medicine, sleep or eat without the permission of the guards.
 The torture as practiced by the Palestinian Authority as well as Hamas may amount to crimes against humanity given its systemic practice over many years.
 The National Documentation Package with respect to Oman – and this is somewhat dated in the National Documentation Package but you’ve also given credible testimony which is more recent given your previous residence in Oman. Nonetheless, it is somewhat dated. This is a document from 2014 unfortunately. It’s also a United States Department of State Report, also indicates the restrictions on women’ s freedom of movement and restrictions on women’s dress by authorities in Oman.
 It also indicates that the government does not protect refugees in Oman, tight control over the entry of foreigners, limited access to protection for refugees in Oman. The authorities apprehend and deport hundreds of presumed economic migrants. It also will deport people if they don’t have authorized status by the employer, all consistent with your testimony today.
 Also, it indicates a lack of access to basic services, so without an official sponsor – which is what you testified to with respect to an employer – it’ s very difficult for foreigners to have any access to basic services and this is somewhat dated but there were deportations as well as those who voluntarily chose to leave because of the conditions and treatment by the authorities in Oman.
 So, I find that this evidence also supports not only the objective basis for your fears of return to Gaza and the kinds of persecution will suffer there if you return to Gaza today, but it also supports the lack of operationally effective state protection in Gaza for you as well.
 With respect to internal flight alternative, as you’ve testified and as the objective evidence indicates, Gaza is a very small area controlled by Hamas at this time and very difficult – any kind of movement out or in is under the control of Hamas at this time and given that Hamas is the group that you fear and the group that has targeted you directly and has also made threats against your family members I find that it is neither safe nor objectively reasonable in all of the circumstances, including your particular circumstances to expect you to try to relocate somewhere within Gaza which is a very small, tightly-controlled area by Hamas and accordingly there is no internal flight alternative available to you in your particular circumstances.
 For the foregoing reasons, I determine that principal claimant, [XXX], the joint claimant, [XXX] the joint claimants [XXX] are Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 and the Board therefore accepts your claim.
 This is a split decision and I also find that with respect to the joined minor claimants [XXX] they are not Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 of the Act nor are they persons in need of protection pursuant to section 97(1) of the Act as US citizens.
 As I’ve indicated there’s not sufficient evidence to make out that claim today against the United States of America. Accordingly, the Board rejects their claims.
 Thank you very much. I wish you and your family all of the best. Thank you counsel. Have a good day everyone. Thank you very much.