Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2021 RLLR 25

Citation: 2021 RLLR 25
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 8, 2021
Panel: Deborah Coyne
Counsel for the Claimant(s): (no information)
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: TC0-12715
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2022-00665
ATIP Pages: 000123-000126

DECISION

[1]     MEMBER: These are the reasons for decision in the claim of XXXX XXXX XXXX who claims to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  In deciding this claim, the Panel applied the Chairpersons’ Guideline 9, the proceedings before the IRB involving sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Allegations

[2]     The allegations are set out in the Basis of Claim form. The claimant alleges a serious possibility of persecution in Saudi Arabia because of her sexual orientation and gender identity. The claimant was born as a male but self-identifies as a female and completed the gender transition in Malaysia. She alleges that she faces serious persecution and life-threatening harm if she has to return to Saudi Arabia.

Decision

[3]     The Panel finds that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution should she return to Saudi Arabia because of her membership in a particular social group, specifically based on her sexual orientation and gender identity as a transgender woman. She is, therefore, a refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the IRPA.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[4]     The Panel finds that the identity of the claimant as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by the claimant’s Saudi Arabian passport in Exhibit 1.

Credibility

[5]     Based on the testimony and the documents in the file, including the detailed Basis of Claim, the Panel has noted no serious credibility issues. On a balance of probabilities, the Panel finds the following to be true: that the claimant was born as a male in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Since a very young age, the claimant was aware that she was not like other boys and that she preferred the female identity. She was abused and threatened mentally and physically by her father throughout her childhood, especially when her father took custody of him and his sister, away from their mother after their parents’ divorce. She suffered physical and mental bullying at school.

[6]     In 2019, the claimant was able to travel to Malaysia for studies and the claimant started the HRT process to transition his gender to female. Exhibit 5 includes documents from the claimant’ s XXXX in Malaysia that explains the claimant’ s treatment and progress.

[7]     The claimant’ s family found out when the claimant returned to Saudi Arabia to attend his sister’ s wedding. The claimant’s father and other relatives threatened his life and the claimant’s mother insisted that the claimant leave Saudi Arabia immediately as the pandemic was starting to shut down flights out of Saudi Arabia. The claimant was able to get a TRV to come to Canada and arrived in XXXX 2020.

[8]     The claimant submitted her claim for refugee protection and cannot return to Saudi Arabia where she fears persecution and death because of her gender identity and sexual orientation as a transgender woman.

[9]     The Panel finds that the claimant’s narrative and evidence was internally consistent and plausible. There were no contradictions or omissions that go to the core of the claim. The allegations were supported by personal documents in Exhibit 5 that the Panel finds credible, and that establishes the claimant’s identity as a transgender woman. These include letters from the doctor in Malaysia who provided the HRT treatment and related medical documents, as well as some photos.

[10]   The Panel accepts the evidence as establishing on a balance of probabilities the claimant’ s subjective fear of persecution because of her gender identity and sexual orientation if she returns to Saudi Arabia.

[11]   The objective evidence in the National Documentation Package for Saudi Arabia in Exhibit 3 indicates that LGBTQ rights are not recognized and confirms that both male and female, same sex sexual activities are illegal. Saudi citizens must comply with uncodified criminal code based on Sharia Law and within this framework, sex outside of marriage is illegal, same sex marriage is not permitted and same sex intimacy is criminalized.

[12]   In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality and being transgender is widely regarded as immoral and indecent. The law imposes severe punishments for acts of homosexuality and cross dressing such as torture, prison up to a lifetime and capital punishment. Members of the LGBTQ community are ostracised and, in some cases, exposed by their own family members.

[13]   The situation faced by transgender persons in Saudi Arabia is corroborated by news reports and reports submitted by the claimant and also in Items 2.1, 2.4, 2.9, 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 of the NDP. The Panel finds that the claimant’s subjective fear of persecution and death as a transgender woman in Saudi Arabia is well founded.

State Protection

[14]   Since being a transgender woman is criminalized in Saudi Arabia, the Panel finds that it is clearly unreasonable for the claimant to ask for the protection from the Saudi authorities. The Panel finds the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence.

Internal Flight Alternative

[15]   The Panel has considered whether a viable Internal Flight Alternative exists for the claimant. The Panel finds that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Saudi Arabia because of her sexual orientation and gender identity, and, therefore, the Panel finds the claimant does not have a viable Internal Flight Alternative within Saudi Arabia.

CONCLUSION

[16]   The Panel finds that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution should she return to Saudi Arabia because of her membership in a particular social group, specifically based on her sexual orientation and gender identity as a transgender woman. She is, therefore, a refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the IRPA and the claim is accepted.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2020 RLLR 101

Citation: 2020 RLLR 101
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 25, 2020
Panel: C. Ruthven
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Michael F. Loebach
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: TB8-23393
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000120-000125

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: [XXX], also known as [XXX] (phonetics), I have considered your testimony, Sir, as well as the written evidence that was presented in support of your claim and I am ready to render my decision of your claim orally.  You are claiming protection pursuant to Section 96 and Subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  The details of your claim are documented in your Basis of Claim Form and its narrative which is found in Exhibit 2 as well as the narrative amendments which are found in Exhibit 7.  I find that these amendments are minor and that they add clarifying statements and that they correct spelling differences.  I have granted a bit more leeway in spelling differences as the translation of certain letters of the Arabic alphabet may allow numerous English language variations.

[2]       In summary, you fear returning to Saudi Arabia based on your Palestinian nationality. You described in your Basis of Claim Form narrative in Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 7 problems that you faced in numerous facets of your life including schooling, healthcare, and your neighborhood community.  You expanded on this written evidence in your testimony this afternoon partially based on these problems your family relocated to Bahrain to ensure that you and your older brother [XXX] (phonetics) would have a better and cheaper access to post-secondary education.

[3]       Your responses in your Basis of Claim Form indicate that your older brother [XXX] (phonetics) made a claim for protection in Canada in early [XXX] 2018, the following month [XXX] 2018 your father informed you that he could no longer provide for tuition and other university expenses in Bahrain due to a deteriorating financial situation on his part.  Your testimony elaborated on these circumstances this afternoon.

[4]       I find that you are a convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act based on the persecution that you face in Saudi Arabia related to your stateless nationality.  You testified that you are not a citizen of any country and you alleged that you are a stateless Palestinian who is born in Saudi Arabia.  Your responses to Schedule A in Exhibit 1 indicate that your parents were each born in Saudi Arabia as well and your responses within question 5 of your Basis of Claim Form in Exhibit 2 indicate that both your parents and all of your siblings and your half-sister are also stateless Palestinians.

[5]       I find that the presented Kingdom of Saudi Arabia birth certificate corroborates that you were born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on [XXX], it is found in Exhibit 8, in your Basis of Claim Form responses in Exhibit 2 you enumerated that each of your family members are residents of either Saudi Arabia or Canada in the case of your older brother [XXX] (phonetics).

[6]       In support of your stateless nationality claim, you presented your valid Palestinian Authority Passport and your valid Arab Republic of Egypt travel document for Palestinian refugees.  The Palestinian Authority Passport is found in Exhibit 1 with a translated copy in Exhibit 8, the Egypt travel document is found in Exhibit 8. I find no reason to doubt the authenticity of either of these documents. Item 1.10 of the Occupied Palestinian Territory National Documentation Package found in Exhibit 3 indicates that the Occupied Palestinian Territory Gaza and the West Bank do not presently meet the criteria for statehood under international law.

[7]       Based on the country condition evidence as well as the personal identity documentation that you educed, Sir, in addition to the credible testimony that you provided this afternoon, I find that you have established that you are a stateless Palestinian on a balance of probabilities.  Based on the stateless determination, I carefully considered any possible countries of former habitual residence for you Sir.

[8]       These are known as the (inaudible spot-01:46:11) factors in our jurisprudence.  The concept of former habitual residence seeks to establish a relationship to a state which is broadly comparable to two dots between a citizen and a country of nationality, that is the term implies a situation where the stateless person was admitted to a country with a view to a continuing residence of some duration without necessitating a minimum period of residence.  The claimant must have established a significant period of De Facto residence in the country in question.  The claimant does not have to be able to legally return to a country of habitual residence.

[9]       Further holding travel documents is not a determinative factor if the person has never resided in a potential country of former habitual residence, that is a determinative factor and that country cannot be a country of former habitual residence despite there being a right to return and reside in that country.  Based on your presented travel documents, I looked at both Egypt and the occupied Palestinian territory, you testified that you have never been to Gaza or the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territory.  There is also a dearth of evidence before me regarding you ever been a resident of Egypt despite being in possession of a valid Arab Republic of Egypt travel document for Palestinian refugees.  Based on these considerations, I find that the occupied Palestinian territory including Gaza and the West Bank is not a country of former habitual residence for you.  In addition, I find that Egypt is not a country of former habitual residence for you Sir.

[10]     In regards to the United States, your Palestinian authority passport included a temporary resident visa to the United States of America, you were issued a B1-82 temporary residence visa indicative of being granted entry to that country for a short period of time, typically six months or less.  The entry stamp in your passport in Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 8 indicated that the authorities in that country granted you the standard six months of temporary residence upon your [XXX] 2018 entry.  Despite this permission to stay for six months, I note that you travelled from New York City, New York State to Detroit, Michigan the following day according to your responses to question 9 of Schedule 12 found in Exhibit 1.  The claim for protection in Canada was made on [XXX] 2018 according to the Canada Border Services Agency officer notes found in Exhibit 1.  Based on these considerations, I find that you had no view to a continuing residence in the United States of America and that you did not have a significant period of De Facto residence in that country, and therefore finally United States is not a country of former habitual residence for you, Sir.

[11]     You spent more than 5 years in Bahrain including time as an adult.  You completed your secondary studies in that country and began three years of your university studies according to your responses to Schedule A in Exhibit 1 and your academic record in Exhibit 8.  Based on these considerations, I find that you had a view to a continuing residence in Bahrain during your secondary and post-secondary studies and then you had a significant period of De Facto residence in Bahrain prior to your most recent departure in [XXX] 2018.  I therefore determine that Bahrain is a country of former habitual residence for you, Sir.  You testified that you do not believe you can return to Bahrain as your status there is dependent on your studies.  I find the visas in your passport support this testimony.  I also find your testimony regarding your father’s financial problems to be credible based on the family’s decision to return to Saudi Arabia and you were forced to withdraw from your university studies.

[12]     The National Documentation Package for Bahrain is found in Exhibit 5 and also supports the lack of availability to obtain permanent status, for example, Item 2.1 indicates that even if you married a Bahrain citizen you would not have a path to citizenship in Bahrain as a noncitizen of that country.  I have no evidence to establish that you retained permission to enter and remain in Bahrain for continued residence after your post-secondary studies ended in 2018.  You were born in Saudi Arabia and you lived in that country for [XXX] years up until the end of grade [XXX].

[13]     Based on this I find that you had a view to a continuing residence in Saudi Arabia and that you had a significant period of De Facto residence in Saudi Arabia prior to your most recent departure on [XXX] 2018. I therefore determine that Saudi Arabia is a country of former habitual residence for you, Sir.  In order to be found 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 if he or she cannot return to any of his or her countries of former habitual residence. These are known in jurisprudence as the (inaudible spot-01:50:58) requirements.  There were a few times when I had to repeat questions, I find that you testified at the hearing in a straightforward and consistent manner without the use of embellishments, contraindications or omissions from the details that you presented when you made your claim for protection in Canada. Your narrative is very detailed in its descriptions of the problems that you faced growing up and living in Saudi Arabia as a young adult.  You self-identified being a stateless Palestinian as per your responses in your Basis of Claim Form in Exhibit 2.  You testified that your father is supporting all of your younger siblings and your half-sister and then your mother has been living with her family in Dammam for about two years.

[14]     Based on your testimony about the death threats made against you starting in [XXX] 2018 as well as the numerous examples you provided in your narrative and your narrative amendments about challenges you faced in schooling, healthcare, and neighborhood participation in Saudi Arabia, I find that you have a subjective fear of returning to Saudi Arabia.  The overall objective evidence supports your claim for convention refuge protection based on your stateless nationality in Saudi Arabia. There are various documents in the Saudi Arabi National Documentation Package found in Exhibit 4 that confirm that there is no codified asylum system for those fleeing persecution in Saudi Arabia and the country is not party to the 1951 refugee convention or its protocol. Item 1.3 indicates that Saudi Arabia has 70,000 stateless residence including Palestinians; however, the estimated number of Palestinians in Saudi Arabia is 287,000 according to Item 2.6 and Item 3.9. Being stateless in Saudi Arabia can result in significant violation of rights which is included lack of access to public education, healthcare, and other services and inability to access employment, social alienation, and psychological challenges which is also found in Item 3.9.

[15]     I find that you educed sufficient evidence to establish that your ability to reside temporarily in Saudi Arabia was entirely due to the work permits and related sponsorship from your father.  There is no evidence before me to establish that you, your parents, or any of your siblings has ever held permanent status in Saudi Arabia or to establish that you ever had access to a such status.

[16]     According to Item 3.1 and Item 3.5 in Saudi Arabia only citizens have access to education, healthcare, public housing, courts, and judicial procedures, legal services and other social services.  Noncitizens have to pay for their elementary school and high school education even though these are public schools.

[17]     According to Item 14.2, Palestinians are subject to the same regulations as foreigners in Saudi Arabia. Foreigners must have Kafala or sponsorship to obtain work permits and residence permits. The sponsor can be a Saudi citizen or accompanied and the residence is of a limited duration and renewable under certain circumstances. The Ministry of Interior is entitled to withdraw the right of residence and its permit from any foreigner and instruct him to leave the country at any time without mentioning any reasons. Access to services such as health and education depends on provisions contained in the work contract.

[18]     Item 2.1 and Item 2.4 indicate that employers or sponsors control the departure of foreign workers and residents from Saudi Arabia and foreign citizen workers under sponsorship require guardian’s consent to travel abroad. Foreign workers cannot change job unless they have a no objection letter from their existing employer and some employers confiscate worker’s passport to prevent them from leaving.

[19]     Based on these considerations, I find that the objective country condition evidence supports you would not be allowed to enter Saudi Arabia should you return to that country.  I therefore determine that you had a relationship with the state of Saudi Arabia which is not broadly comparable to a relationship between a citizen and his/her country of nationality.

[20]     In regards to your lifetime cumulative treatment including treatment of simulated situated persons in Saudi Arabia who are noncitizens, Palestinians or stateless persons, I find that the cumulative effect Saudi policies related to education, healthcare, and employment are discrimination against noncitizen that rises to the level of persecution. I therefore determine that you face a well-founded fear of persecution in Saudi Arabia.  The authorities of Saudi Arabia are your primary agents of persecution as the authorities in action subsequently enforce laws that put noncitizens and stateless residents at a significant disadvantage over the citizens of Saudi Arabia. I considered the possible avenues of redress for noncitizen resident of Saudi Arabia such as yourself.

[21]     Item 2.1 indicates that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, the State Security Presidency or SSP, the national guard, the ministries of defence and interior, all report to the king. Significant human rights issues included all unlawful killings, executions for nonviolent offenses, forced disappearances, torture of prisoners, and detainees by government agents, arbitrary arrest and detention, political prisoners and arbitrary interference with privacy.  In the judicial system, there are traditionally no published case law on criminal matters, no uniform criminal code, no presumption of innocence, and no doctrine that binds charges to follow legal precedent. In light of the country condition evidence, I find that it will be objectively unreasonable for you sir in your particular circumstances as a noncitizen to seek the protection of the authorities in Saudi Arabia.  I find it unreasonable to expect you to seek redress or protection from the police or any other authorities in Saudi Arabia.

[22]     Based on this, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence, I find that on a balance of probabilities, adequate state protection would not be available to you should you return to Saudi Arabia.

[23]     The authorities of Saudi Arabia are in full control of their territory. You fear the policies enacted by the authorities of Saudi Arabia which in cumulative effect rises to a level of persecution. As the agents of harm include the state, I find that there would be no places or regions in Saudi Arabia which could offer you safety from the reasonable chance of persecution in your particular set of circumstances. I find that you have a well-founded fear of persecution throughout Saudi Arabia and there is no viable internal flight alternative for you. I further find that you are a stateless Palestinian with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as your countries of former habitual residence. You do not have authorization to return to either of these countries. As such, I find that you are a convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act based on your nationality as a stateless Palestinian and based on the serious risk of persecution in Saudi Arabia, I therefore accept your claim.

[24]     I am going to return to you all of the original documents that you presented to me and that concludes our hearing this afternoon. Do you have any questions before we end?

[25]     INTERPRETER: Did you accept my claim?

[26]     MEMBER: Yes.  Any other questions?

[27]     CLAIMANT: No.

[28]     MEMBER:    Counsel anything else before we end?

[29]     COUNSEL:   No thank you very much.

[30]     MEMBER:    I would like to thank you for your testimony this afternoon. Counsel thank you for your work and Mr. Interpreter thank you for your as well. With that, we go off the record and we end it here.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2020 RLLR 92

Citation: 2020 RLLR 92
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 21, 2020
Panel: Stéphane Hébert
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Jessica Lipes
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: MB8-20274
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000027-000034

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of [XXX], who claims to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia, and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       You allege the following: you have a friend named [XXX].

[3]       You are a [XXX]-year-old male from Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, your parents and siblings are all in Jeddah with the exception of a brother who is living in California, United States of America (USA).

[4]       When you were still seventeen years old, you were invited by your friend [XXX] to gather with a teenage group including boys and girls at his compound in Al Durrah Al Aros Beach, which is a residential area in Jeddah.

[5]       This was a second home for [XXX] family, but that house was not their main residence.

[6]       You alleged having been there in the past to gather with your friends and you never had a problem.

[7]       You stated that your gathering was disrupted by four religious police assisted by two regular policemen who broke the door and handcuffed you, before taking you all in their truck and then to a religious police station.

[8]       Once at the religious police station, the girls’ parents were called, they were released and picked up by their respective family while the boys including you were sent to prison.

[9]       You and [XXX] were sent to Dar Al Moahaza prison and the other boys to Breman prison.

[10]    You alleged that the other boys were released due to their family’s political influence while you and [XXX] remained detained.

[11]     You were forced to study and memorized the Holy Koran and when you failed to properly answer, you were hit or beaten.

[12]     You appeared to a Court along with [XXX] a month after your arrest. Being a minor and without legal representation, you were not allowed to speak, got sentenced one year of prison and were flogged 127 times.

[13]     You benefitted from the Prince forgiveness and were allegedly released after 53 days, but not before you were flogged 127 times.

[14]     Upon your release, you were treated at home by your mother and resume school following an agreement with the school direction, allowing you to finish your high school.

[15]     Your family and yourself decided that it would be better for you to pursue your studies abroad considering this incident and you left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the USA in 2011.

[16]     You obtained a University degree in [XXX], but during your stay in the USA, you returned only twice for one week each time as you did not like being there.

[17]     Upon your return in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017 and after you had experienced religious freedom in the USA, you had more and more problems to comply with religious regulations.

[18]     You had difficulties at Panasonic in Jeddah as you had been challenged on your religious belief or practice when it was time for the compulsory prayer.

[19]     You have also been arrested and detained for a day and a half as a result of your nonconformity appearance, considering that wearing an earring in the Kingdom is not very common.

[20]     Based on your previous arrest, detention and torture, while you were still a minor for simply being with teenagers of your age including boys and girls, you developed [XXX] and [XXX] since your return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as you did not feel secure anymore and considering that you could not easily surrender your freedom of conscience.

[21]     On [XXX] 2018, you met [XXX], a childhood friend whom you have not seen for years.

[22]     Your discussion deviated to the lifestyle in the USA compared to the prevailing in the Kingdom and you expressed criticism toward the religion and the government.

[23]     Later on, you saw the same friend in a police uniform when on your way to the gym as you were driving your brother’s car, you were pulled aside and requested to accompany him to the station for further investigation.

[24]     You immediately and spontaneously started running in order to escape and you went to your apartment where you received a call eventually from your brother saying that the police had already come to the family residence.

[25]     Being already in possession of a valid US visa, you called a travel agency and booked the first flight for the USA the next day at 4:00PM.

[26]     The next day, you rushed to the airport, waited for your flight and entered the USA the same day on [XXX] 2018.

[27]     You testified that you simply wanted to leave your country at that time as you knew that with a previous police file, you would be mistreated due to your opinion toward religion and the Kingdom.

[28]     You came to Canada on [XXX] 2018, after being in the USA for two days during which you had done research on the web and you claimed asylum.

[29]     A warrant of arrest was issued against you on [XXX] 2018, while you were in Canada but was made aware of it on [XXX] 2020.

[30]     You are fearful to go back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as you will be arrested and detained.

DECISION

[31]     I find that you are a refugee, pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA, as there exists a serious possibility of persecution, should you return to Saudi Arabia, on account of your: religion, political opinion.

Identity

[32]     I find that your identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by the documents provided, namely your passport which was seized by the Canadian Border Services Agency and accordingly, you have met your burden.

Credibility

[33]     I find you to be a credible witness and therefore believe what you alleged in support of your claim.

[34]     You testified in a straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me.

[35]     Initially, the tribunal had to confront you on some interrogations pertaining to your subjective fears (failure to claim asylum in the USA and returns to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and the absence of supporting evidence concerning your conviction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

[36]     The question of subjective fear was raised as I noted that you did not seek asylum in the USA where you studied from 2011 to 2017, and you returned to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia upon completing your University degree in the USA. However, the evidence indicates that you were only seventeen years old when you went to the USA and you testified that you had not made yet this decision to leave for ever your country, especially that you were missing your mother. This explanation seems reasonable in your alleged circumstances, especially the age factor and therefore does not raise significant concerns with respect to subjective fear or credibility

[37]     I further note that Refugee Protection Division (RPD) rule 11 requires you to provide acceptable documents establishing elements of your claim, or a reasonable explanation indicating why they were not produced.

[38]     You were indeed asked why you did not produce your court file and you stated that since you were a minor, your father had all the documents but forbid all discussions as they are still in Saudi Arabia and he is afraid of the repercussion of the family members, since it is of public knowledge that the Kingdom does not hesitate to pressure or persecute the remaining family members present in Saudi Arabia, to pressure the individual abroad to come back or comply with their request, and the claimant added that even his brother in California did not want to get involved and for the same reasons, did not issue any statement.

[39]     Ultimately, the claimant declared that without his father’s collaboration, he simply could not provide any document pertaining to his past arrest and detention as he was a minor unrepresented and all the documents were in the hands of his father who did not want to collaborate as he was extremely fearful of the potential consequences over the security of the family present in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

[40]     Moreover, during that period, a diplomatic crisis was opposing Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom spying attempts over their nationals in Canada were observed as it more fully appears from the objective documentary evidence.

[41]     I therefore find the explanation to be reasonable and coherent with the objective evidence.

[42]     Finally, the following evidence establishes your allegations as set out above the warrant of arrest issued by the State (Exhibit 4, item E-19). After reviewing the said document, I have no reasons to doubt its authenticity. Consequently, considering the testimonial evidence and this supporting evidence, the tribunal may easily conclude that shall you return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you will be arrested and detained.

Objective basis

[43]     Given that there are no serious credibility issues with respect to your allegations, coupled with the documentary evidence set out below, I find that you have established a prospective risk of being subjected to the following harm(s): arrest, detention and torture.

[44]     This risk is corroborated by the following documents:

The DOS Report for 2019 (Exhibit 3- item 2.1) mentions:

“The law also penalizes anyone who challenges, either directly or indirect/y, the religion or justice of the king or crown prince(…).”

“Statements that authorities construed as constituting defamation of the king, monarchy, governing system, or Al Saud family resulted in criminal charges for citizens advocating government reform.”

-and-

Significant human rights issues included unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offences; forced disappearances; torture of prisoners and detainees by government agents; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; arbitrary interference with privacy; criminalization of libel, censorship, and site blocking; restrictions on freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and movement; severe restrictions of religious freedom; citizens’ lack of ability and legal means to choose their government through free and fair elections; trafficking in persons; violence and official discrimination against women, although new women’s rights initiatives were implemented; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity; and prohibition of trade unions.”

[45]     The Human Right Watch Report (Exhibit 3, item 2) states that:

“Surveillance is extensive inside Saudi Arabia, and even Saudis living abroad are vulnerable ta spying. In October, the University of Toronto’s citizen Lab found surveillance software on the phone of Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada who was in regular contact with Khashoggi before this assassination”.

[46]     The Saudi Arabia World Report 2020 Events of 2019 from Human Right Watch (Exhibit 3, items 2-5) corroborated similarly situation for minor under the penal justice in Saudi Arabia in the following terms:

“Saudi Arabia applies Sharia (Islamic law) as its national law. There is no formal penal code, but the government has passed some laws and regulations that subject certain broadly defined offences ta criminal penalties. In the absence of a written penal code or narrowly-worded regulations, however, judges and prosecutors can convict people on a wide range of offences under broad, catch-all charges such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler” or “trying to distort the reputation of the kingdom.” Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest.”

[47]     Finally, the Report from Saudi Arabia: Freedom of the World from Freedom House 2019 (Exhibit 3, items 2-4), is well describing the socio-political reality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

“Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties. No officials at the national level are elected. The regime relies on extensive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power. Women and religious minorities face extensive discrimination in law and in practice. Working conditions for the large expatriate labor force are often exploitative.”

[48]     The above stated objective evidence is describing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a theocracy which persecute all forms of dissidence.

Nature of the harm

[49]     I have examined your claim under section 96 of the IRPA, as I conclude that the risk you describe constitutes persecution based on at least one of the grounds prescribed in section 96, specifically your religion and political opinion.

CONCLUSION

[50]     In light of the preceding, I conclude that you are a refugee, pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA. Accordingly, I accept your claim.

Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2020 RLLR 22

Citation: 2020 RLLR 22
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 19, 2020
Panel: Ana Rico
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Mohamed Mahdi
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: TB9-06159
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000135-0000137


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons for decision in the claim for refugee protection filed [XXX], under Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Allegations

[2]       The allegations of persecution are fully set out in the Basis of Claim form, which can be found at Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 11. In short, the claimant alleges a fear of persecution at the hands of the Saudi authorities because of his political views. The claimant has voiced those views repeatedly on publicly accessible social s- media platforms, like Twitter and Snapchat. The claimant was also actively involved advocating for minority rights in Saudi Arabia. If returned to Saudi Arabia, the claimant fears that he will be detained by the authorities or disappeared, or in worse case scenario, killed. For the reasons outlined below, I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee, as he has established a serious possibility of persecution in Saudi Arabia, based on his real or perceived political opinion.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[3]       The claimant’s identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established, on a balance of probabilities, through the certified true copy of his passport, which can be found at Exhibit 1.

[4]       Exclusion under Article 1 F(a) is not applicable. Exclusion is not applicable in this case, as the claimant’s time in the Ministry of Defence, does not engage any concerns related to Article 1 F(a). The claimant was a [XXX] in the Ministry of Defence for Saudi Arabia, for approximately [XXX] years. During his time of service, the claimant assisted with the [XXX] activities. The claimant never engaged in armed conflict, nor was he present for any armed conflict, nor was he aware of the Minister of Defence military activities in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. While the Saudi Arabian military, in particular the Ministry of Defence, has been accused of committing war-crimes and crimes against humanity, the claimant’ s position was so far removed, that he could not have been complicit or willfully blind to any of the alleged activities, for which he would have had no knowledge. Lastly, I note, that the Minister decided not to intervene in this matter and noted the following in its letter: the claimant’s front-end security screening passed and was favourable.

Credibility

[5]       It is trite law that testimony given under oath is presumed to be true, unless there are reasons to doubt its veracity. The claimant’s testimony and corroborating evidence, in particular, the plethora of evidence concerning his online activities, which can be found throughout Exhibit 10, establishes his political profile. The claimant clearly articulated his fear of returning to Saudi Arabia, specifically, his fear of being killed because he has spoken against the King; a fear that is well supported in the documentary evidence, within the National Documentation Package, for Saudi Arabia. While the claimant falsely presented himself as a security specialist in his visa application, I do not draw a negative inference, as it is clear that he only did so to be more likely to be successful in obtaining a visa; his only way out of the country. And, given that he was fleeing persecution, I will not fault the claimant for doing so. I do not draw a negative inference from the amendments to the Basis of Claim form, which can be found at Exhibit 11. It is clear that the amendments are only additions, that include events that have happened after arriving in Canada. And, even if one were to disagree with me, any concerns that could arise from these amendments are not sufficient to rebut the presumption of truthfulness with respect to the claimant’s political views which can be viewed publicly; online on Twitter. It’ s the nature of these political views that he voiced so publicly, that places him at risk in Saudi Arabia on his return. So, based on the above reasons, I find that on a balance of probabilities, the claimant’s allegations are true.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[6]       The documentary evidence, which can be found within Exhibit 3 of the National Documentation Package for Saudi Arabia, specifically, at Tabs 4.1 and 11.2, establishes that there is a well-founded fear of persecution for those persons, like the claimant, who are critical of the government on social media. In late 2010, the government moved to increase its control over independent blogs and websites, demanding that these too obtain official licences. The rule could not be effectively imp- implemented, but several Twitter users and bloggers have been arrested in recent years for alleged religious deviance. The government closely monitors social media and has its own operatives engaged in targeted counter-propaganda. Internet freedom in Saudi Arabia further declined in 2018, amid an escalating intolerance for all forms of political, social, and religious dissent. An anti-terrorism law, introduced in November 2017, laid out lengthy prison senten­ terms for offences linked to non-violent political and religious speech; such as portraying the King or a crown-prince in a manner that brings religion or justice in disrepute. Given the climate of oppression towards persons who post on social media views critical of the government, I find that the claimant’s fear of persecution is objectively well-founded.

State Protection

[7]      As the agent of persecution is the government of Saudi Arabia, I find that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimant to seek protection of the very agent of persecution whom he fears.

Internal Flight Alternative

[8]       I also find that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Saudi Arabia, especially given the country documentation that indicates that the authorities operate similarly throughout Saudi Arabia, towards those who are, or perceived to be, political dissidents. Therefore, viable internal flight alternatives are not available to the claimant.

[9]       Based on the foregoing analysis, I conclude that the claimant is a Convention refugee and I accept his claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2019 RLLR 112

Citation: 2019 RLLR 112
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 21, 2019
Panel: M. Hayes
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Sarah Jamali
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: TB9-13037
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000197-000200


REASONS FOR DECISION

On November 21, 2019, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) heard the claim of [XXX] who claims refugee protection under sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). On that same day, the panel rendered its oral positive decision and Reasons for decision. This is the written version of the oral decision and Reasons that have been edited for clarity, spelling, grammar and syntax with added references to the documentary evidence and relevant case law where appropriate.

INTRODUCTION

[1]       I have considered your testimony, and the other evidence in the case, and I am ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of [XXX], who claims to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia, and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       In rendering my reasons, I have considered and applied the Chairperson’s Guidelines on Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution.

ALLEGATIONS

[4]       The allegations of your claim are fully set out in your Basis of Claim (BOC) form. Very briefly, you have suffered extreme physical and emotional abuse from your mother all your life. As well, your brothers and your ex-husband were very emotionally and physically abusive towards you, and your ex-husband is abusive towards your four minor children. You sought police protection, but protection was not forthcoming. You fear returning to Saudi Arabia where you will continue to face violent mistreatment, death threats, and emotional abuse at the hands of the agents of persecution. You were able to escape from Saudi Arabia to come to Canada to make a refugee claim. Despite efforts to date to bring your four minor children to Canada, you were forced to leave them in Saudi Arabia in the circumstances.

DETERMINATION

[5]       I find that you are a Convention refugee as you have established a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Saudi Arabia based on the grounds in section 96.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[6]       I find that your identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by a certified true copy of your Saudi passport, as well as by your testimony.

Nexus

[7]       I find that you have established a nexus to section 96 by reason of your membership in a particular social group, that being your gender.

Credibility

[8]       I find that you were a credible witness and I accept the allegations in your claim. You testified in a straightforward manner and there were no inconsistencies between your testimony and the documents before me, such as the Port of Entry notes and your 151 paragraph BOC narrative and amendments that detail the lifetime of domestic torture and abuse you have suffered as a woman in Saudi Arabia. I was concerned that you did not take more steps to obtain additional documentary evidence such as your children’s Birth Certificates. However, I accept your explanation that trying to obtain those documents would likely cause problems with your children’s father. You did submit a recent medical report that corroborates the burn scars all over your body are consistent with the injuries inflicted on you by your mother when you were a child, as you describe in your BOC; a letter from the Refugee Law Office that corroborates that you obtained legal advice earlier this year regarding the legal risks of re-availing to Turkey to bring your children back to Canada; the custody order obtained by your ex-husband, and the custody order obtained by you, which describes the harm your children suffered at the hands of your ex-husband. I have no reasons to doubt the authenticity of the evidence you submitted and find that the evidence supports and corroborates the allegations in your claim.

Objective basis of future risk

[9]       Based on the credibility of your allegations, and the objective country condition evidence, I find that you have established a well founded fear and a future risk that you will be subjected to mistreatment and violence at the hands of the agents of persecution, in a country where women have limited rights, and there are reports of judges and police returning women to their abusers.1 The fact that you face these risks is corroborated by the documents submitted by you in Exhibit 5, as well as numerous documents in the National Documentation Package (NDP) for Saudi Arabia (March 29, 2019), including Items 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, and 5.6.

Nature of the harm

[10]     The harm you have faced, and would face upon return to Saudi Arabia, clearly amounts to persecution.

State protection

[11]     I accept that you sought state protection, but protection was not forthcoming. Your experience is consistent with the country conditions described in the above cited documentary evidence. As such, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection, as there is clear and convincing evidence before me that the state is unable to provide you with adequate protection.

Internal flight alternative (IFA)

[12]     With regards to an IFA, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Saudi Arabia, as one of the agents of persecution is the father of your children, and this close family connection means that he could likely locate you anywhere in the country.

CONCLUSION

[13]     Based on this analysis I conclude that you are a Convention refugee and accept your claim.

1 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Saudi Arabia (March 29, 2019), Item 2.1.

Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2019 RLLR 108

Citation: 2019 RLLR 108
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 7, 2019
Panel: A. Rico
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Hannah Lindy
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: TB8-25749
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000172-000175


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons for decision in the claim of [XXX]. First name is spelled, [XXX] (sic).  Second name is spelled [XXX], middle initial [XXX]. Last name is spelled, [XXX] who claims to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       In rendering my decisions, I have had considered and applied the Chairperson’s guidelines on women refugee claimants fearing gender related persecution.

[3]       You allege the following. You were sexually assaulted in Canada by a male Saudi citizen. You reported the sexual assault to the police and criminal charges were laid which resulted in criminal proceedings against the male Saudi citizen.

[4]       The Saudi Government pressured you to drop the criminal charges and to work with them to stop the criminal proceedings.

[5]       The male Saudi citizen belongs to a prominent family in Saudi Arabia. You fear that you will be prosecuted if returned to Saudi Arabia as the Saudi Government would blame you for being sexually assaulted.

[6]       I find that you are a Convention refugee as your fear of persecution is by reasons of your membership in a particular social group, specifically that a woman fearing gender based violence.

[7]       I find that your identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by your testimony and the supporting documentation filed, including the certified true copy of your passport found at Exhibit 1.

[8]       I find that the wealth of documentation found at Exhibits 5 and 7 establishes, on a balance of probabilities, that criminal charges were laid against a male Saudi citizen, and that you received threats from the Saudi Government because of these criminal charges.

[9]       You provided documents corroborating the criminal court proceedings against the male Saudi citizen as well as the threats you received via WhatsApp messaging arising from the commencement of those criminal court proceedings.

[10]     Given the preponderance of the corroborating evidence before me I find that, on a balance of probabilities, your allegations of persecution are, in fact, true.

[11]     I do not draw a negative credibility inference from your delay in making a refugee claim. I find it completely understandable that you had many things going on between attending hospital appointments, attending court appearances, and being available for Crown Prosecutors related to your criminal case.

[12]     I find it completely reasonable that the criminal case be in the forefront of your mind and that you would focus on the criminal proceedings.

[13]     I also note that at the time you were not at risk of being removed until Saudi students were called back to Saudi Arabia. As such, the risk had not yet materialized for you. And shortly after the risk of return to Saudi Arabia materialized you initiated your refugee claim.

[14]     While I continue to have concerns regarding your re-availment to Saudi Arabia in 2017, when weighing the totality of evidence as a whole these concerns are insufficient to rebut the presumption of truthfulness.

[15]     I therefore find that you have established a subjective fear of persecution if you are to be returned to Saudi Arabia by reason of your membership in a particular social group, specifically that of women fearing gender based violence.

[16]     Your subjective fear of persecution is objectively well-founded.

[17]     The documentary evidence at Exhibit 3 Item 2.1 states that one of the most significant human rights issues included violence and official gender discrimination against women, despite the announced new women’s rights initiatives.

[18]     Though rape is a criminal offence under Shari law, a rape victim must provide four witnesses to the rape or the perpetrator’s confession. Otherwise, the victim will be persecuted … prosecuted for having illegal sex. Punishment imposed by the court for having illegal sex may range from flogging if she is single or execution if she is married. Any resulting pregnancy also leaves them open to criminal prosecution or other punishment such as honour killing. Evidence of which can be found at Exhibit 3 Items 5.1 and 5.6.

[19]     Few cases of rape are prosecuted or reported as women fear being prosecuted themselves if they do report the crime.

[20]     Given that the criminal proceedings of sexual assault against a male Saudi citizen is public knowledge and that the Saudi Government through its embassy is aware of these criminal proceedings and that the objective documentary evidence establishes that you will more likely than not face a serious possibility of persecution if returned to Saudi Arabia as you may be punished for having what is considered in Saudi Arabia illegal sex, I find that you have established a well-founded fear of persecution in Saudi Arabia.

[21]     As the agent of persecution in your particular circumstances is the State, given that they will more likely than not prosecute and met out the punishment, I find that it would be objectively unreasonable for you to seek protection of the State.

[22]     I have also considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for you. On the evidence before me I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Saudi Arabia.

[23]     It is clear from the objective documentary evidence that the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia is the same throughout. As such, there is no safe place for you.

[24]     Based on the analysis above I conclude that you are a Convention refugee. Accordingly, I accept your claim.

[25]     Okay, let’s pull the mics back.

[26]     This concludes today’s hearing. We will be going off the record now. I wish you all a good afternoon.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-