All Countries Sierra Leone

2020 RLLR 5

Citation: 2020 RLLR 5
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 15, 2020
Panel: David Jones
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Nduka Ahanonu
Country: Sierra Leone
RPD Number: VB9-03895
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000033-000036


[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for the claim of [XXX], who is a citizen of Sierra Leone, seeking protection pursuant to s. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.


[2]       The specifics of the claim are set out in the claimant’s Basis of Claim form. In summary, the claimant fears persecution from government security forces, Malen chieftain, and local vigilantes, due to his advocacy related to the land conflict in the Malen area in southern Sierra Leone. The following is a brief overview of the claimant’s allegations.

[3]       The claimant is from [XXX] (ph) village in the [XXX] area in Pujehun District in southern Sierra Leone. In 2011, the claimant became involved as a volunteer with the [XXX], otherwise known as [XXX]. In 2017, after the claimant returned to Sierra Leone from [XXX] in the [XXX], he became an active volunteer with [XXX]. The claimant lived and worked in [XXX] but would travel to Malen region to consult with the affected communities and raise their concerns with the local authorities, including the Malen chieftain.

[4]       On [XXX], 2019, the claimant was involved in the organization of a peaceful protest in the Malen region. Government security forces and local vigilantes cracked down on the protest, and two protestors were shot and killed. Security forces started arresting members of [XXX], and local vigilantes raided homes targeting members of [XXX], including the claimant’s home in [XXX]. The claimant hid in a neighbouring village for five days before making his way back to [XXX]. The claimant remained in hiding until he left on [XXX], 2019 for Canada and applied for refugee protection. The claimant fears he’ll be arrested or killed if he were to return to Sierra Leone.


[5]       I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Analysis: Identity

[6]       The claimant’s identity as a citizen of Sierra Leone has been established on a balance of probabilities by a Sierra Leone passport located at Exhibit One.

[7]       The claimant’s allegations support a nexus to the Convention ground of “Political opinion, actual or imputed,” for his [XXX].


[8]       I find, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant is an active member of [XXX] and has been an [XXX] of the local Malen people. I also find, on a balance of probabilities, that the Sierra Leone security forces and the Malen chieftain perceive the claimant to have a political opinion which is in opposition to them. In making these findings, I am guided by the principle that a claimant who affirms to tell the truth creates a presumption of truthfulness unless there are reasons to doubt their truthfulness. In this regard, the claimant testified in a consistent and straightforward manner that was consistent with his Basis of Claim form and supporting documents. The claimant was able to speak clearly and provide specific details about the purpose of [XXX], the concerns of the Malen people, his involvement with the group, why the government and the local chieftain would see that his involvement is in opposition of their interests, and he was able to answer specific questions when asked. There were no relevant inconsistencies in his testimony, or contradiction between his testimony and the other evidence. I find the claimant is a credible witness.

[9]       The claimant also provided documents to support his claim. For example, documents found at Exhibit Five include a newspaper article about the security forces searching for the claimant, specifically for his involvement in [XXX]. Also at Exhibit Five is a [XXX] that supports the claimant’s description of the events related to the protests, including the killing of two civilians, the arrest of [XXX] members, and the ongoing search for other [XXX] members. I have no reason to doubt the genuineness of these documents and, since they relate to the claimant’s involvement in [XXX], and the response by security forces, I place significant weight on these documents to support the allegations and overall claim. As such, I find that the claimant has established, on a balance of probabilities, the facts alleged in his claim.

Objective Basis

[10]     The objective evidence supports the claimant’s fear of returning to Sierra Leone. The somewhat limited National Documentation Package for Sierra Leone, located at Exhibit Three, indicates some positive conditions exist in the country. For example, a 2019 report from the US Department of State, found at item 2.1, indicates that in 2018, there were no reported killings or disappearances connected with government authorities. But it does note that there are significant human rights issues in Sierra Leone, including life-threatening prison conditions, official corruption, and impunity of government officials. However, with respect to the government’s response to protests, the National Documentation Package indicates significant concerns.

[11]     An Amnesty International report found at item 10.1 is titled “Impunity for Lethal and Excessive Use of Force by Police During Protests.” And this report indicates that the police in Sierra Leone have used lethal and excessive force to disperse protests with impunity, noting that Amnesty is not aware of any police officer being held criminally responsible for using excessive force. Further, the report states that “The heavy-handed approach of the police limits the rights and freedoms of peaceful assembly and creates a chilling effect, with people reluctant to exercise this right due to fear of intimidation and violence.”

[12]     The claimant also provided country condition documents, which are found at Exhibit 5. These include a 2019 Amnesty International report that indicates there are concerns about public order management by Sierra Leone police, and highlights a number of incidents, including the protest the claimant participated in in January 2019. That report further notes that 19 human rights advocates with [XXX] were arrested pursuant to that protest, and that as of December 31st, 2019, their cases were still pending.

[13]     I’m also guided by the principle that a victim of politically motivated persecution is not required to abandon his commitment to political activism in order to live safely in his country. The claimant testified that he would [XXX] in the Malen region. As such, given the country conditions noted above and the use of protests as a way to express these concerns, the claimant would face a future risk if he were to return to Sierra Leone. Based on the testimony and the claimant’s supporting documents and the country condition documents, I find that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution.

State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative

[14]     Given that the state is the agent of harm, I find there’s no state protection available to the claimant. In making this finding, I note that the claimant attempted to seek state protection when he was in hiding in [XXX]. The claimant contacted by telephone the [XXX] police, and the police in Pujehun District where the incident occurred. The police in the Pujehun District said that the [XXX] organizers were at fault for inciting people. The police in [XXX] did not take the claimant’s complaints seriously. I also note that the objective evidence indicated above is clear that impunity for government security forces remains a problem in Sierra Leone. Further, given the state’s capacity, I find that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Sierra Leone. Accordingly, I find there is no internal flight alternative available to the claimant.

[15]     For the forgoing reasons, I determine that the claimant is a convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the board therefore accepts the claimant.

[16]     Okay, thank you. Do you have any questions before we conclude today?

[17]     CLAIMANT (without interpreter): No, I don’t have a question.

[18]     MEMBER: Okay, great. And Counsel, thank you very much for your assistance, especially -­

[19]     COUNSEL: Thank you, Member.

[20]     MEMBER: — assistance with some of the country condition documents, because, as I noted, the NDP was lacking in this regard. All right.

[21]     COUNSEL: Thank you very much, sir.

[22]     CLAIMANT (without interpreter): Thank you.

[23]     INTEPRETER: Thank you.