All Countries Slovakia

2021 RLLR 77

Citation: 2021 RLLR 77
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 1, 2021
Panel: L. Bonhomme
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Howard C. Gilbert
Country: Slovakia
RPD Number: TB9-27381
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-27444
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A


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

[2]       The principal claimant, XXXX XXXX, is the mother of XXXX XXXX, the minor claimant. The principal claimant was appointed to be the designated representative of the minor claimant.


[3]       The panel finds the claimants to be Convention refugees on the grounds of their ethnicity, being members of the Roma community.


[4]       The details of the claimants’ allegations are more fully set out in the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim form (“BOC”).[2] In short, the claimants are of Roma ethnicity and have faced discrimination in relation to their education, employment, housing and health care. The claimants were assaulted on one occasion by skinheads and were unable to obtain police assistance.

[5]       The claimants fear returning to Slovakia because they believe they will continue to be persecuted and discriminated against due to their Roma ethnicity.



[6]       The claimants’ personal identities as citizens of Slovakia have been established by the claimants’ testimony and the certified true copies of their Slovakian passports on file.[3]

[7]       The claimants’ ethnicity as members of the Roma community has been established by the claimants’ testimony, a letter from the Roma Community Centre in Toronto dated October 15, 2020,[4] and the claimants’ use of an interpreter of the Romani dialect, Romungro, for their BOCs.

[8]       The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimants are who they say they are, that they are of Roma ethnicity and that the country of reference is Slovakia.


[9]       The determinative issue in this claim is credibility. In making this assessment, the panel has considered all the evidence, including the oral testimony, documentary evidence entered as exhibits, and counsel’s written submissions.

[10]     Both claimants testified and the panel found them to mostly be credible witnesses. The claimants’ testimony was consistent with one another, for the most part consistent with the BOCs and with the documentary evidence. The claimants responded to all questions put to them by the panel, were able to provide details when asked and were forthcoming with information.

[11]     Unlike in other claims from members of the Roma community, these claimants did not raise any issues about the quality of their housing. The claimants resided in a mixed ethnic neighbourhood in the city of Poprad. However, the claimants did express a sense of insecurity in their housing situation. They were harassed by a racist neighbour and their home was vandalized with racist graffiti. The principal claimant reported to her XXXX how she feared letting her sons go outside owing to the danger to them from non-Roma members of the community and to feeling stressed if they did not return from school right away.

[12]     The principal claimant testified about the racist names she would be called and the way she would be mistreated in public spaces. The principal claimant described an incident that had occurred to her, her husband, and the associate claimant when they were disembarking from a bus in Poprad in May 2019. The family were physically attacked by a group of skinheads and verbally assaulted. The principal claimant’s description of this incident was consistent with her BOC and in response to questioning from the panel, she was able to spontaneously provide additional details.

[13]     The principal claimant provided detailed testimony of her unsuccessful job search efforts and discriminatory experiences with potential employers and provided specific examples, as requested by the panel. The principal claimant was unable to secure any employment while she resided in Slovakia and depended upon welfare benefits and her husband’s income from seasonal work.

[14]     The principal claimant did not attempt to embellish her evidence in relation to her treatment in the health care system. Although she described a discriminatory birthing experience and delays in being able to see doctors, the principal claimant was forthright in admitting that she received good care from the neurologist who was treating her for chronic back problems.

[15]     The associate claimant testified about his school experiences in Slovakia, including the substandard education he received and limited opportunities to advance due to his Roma ethnicity. The associate claimant is now seventeen years old and continues to attend school in Toronto. The associate claimant convincingly explained how he had seen his older brother attacked and was scared for his own life, especially now that he was older and a more likely target for skinheads in Slovakia.

[16]     The principal claimant’s eldest son fled to Canada in XXXX 2017 and made a successful refugee claim on the basis of his ethnicity as a member of the Roma community. He had been attacked at school and in the community on three occasions and although he attempted to obtain assistance from the police, he was unable to. This is corroborated by a copy of the decision submitted by the claimants.[5]  The principal claimant’s eldest son was in a motor vehicle accident in Toronto on XXXX 2018 and was seriously injured, resulting in his anticipated hospitalization in a near vegetative state for the remainder of his life. This is also corroborated by a letter from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute submitted by the claimants.[6]

[17]     The panel was concerned that the claimants had both returned to Slovakia from Canada and had not made a claim for refugee protection during one of their previous stays in Canada. The claimants first travelled to Canada together in XXXX 2018 in order to tend to their son and brother in the immediate aftermath of his accident. The principal claimant returned to Slovakia in XXXX 2019 and the associate claimant made two subsequent trips between Canada and Slovakia before he returned for the last time in XXXX 2019 with the principal claimant.

[18]     The principal claimant was questioned about her return to Slovakia. She explained that she needed psychiatric assistance that she was unable to obtain while she was in Canada and she knew that she would be legally allowed to return to Canada to visit her son as she had an Electronic Travel Authorization that enabled her to do so. The principal claimant testified that she did not make a claim for protection while she was in Canada the first time as she was focused on her son’s care. Further, the principal claimant had received advice from the community that her claim might not be successful as she herself had not experienced any violence in Slovakia and she did not want to run the risk of being unable to return to Canada in the future.

[19]     The claimants submitted a XXXX XXXX of the principal claimant dated August 19, 2020, completed by a doctor at XXXX in Toronto.[7] The report indicates that the principal claimant was seen by the psychiatrist three times, starting on May 28th. The report indicates that the principal claimant’s mental health deteriorated following her son’s accident and in the immediate months following, she was experiencing suicidal ideation, and in an acute anxiety state when not with her son. The principal claimant has been diagnosed with XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX for which she has been prescribed medication. The claimants also submitted medical documentation from Slovakia indicating that the principal claimant saw a psychiatrist there in April and May 2019.[8]

[20]     The claimants submitted an affidavit from the associate claimant’s father (and the principal claimant’s husband) who described his decision-making authority and rationale in relation to his son’s travels to and from Canada and his concerns about his education.[9] Basically, he did not want his son to miss school and attract the attention of child protection authorities. The claimants also submitted travel documents indicating that the associate claimant’s travels, aside from his initial short visit to see his brother immediately following the accident, coincided with school holidays.[10]

[21]     The panel finds that in consideration of the claimants’ circumstances, the minor claimant’s young age and dependence on his parents, and the principal claimant’s XXXX state, the claimants’ returns to Slovakia and failure to claim in Canada are reasonably explained.

[22]     The principal claimant’s eldest brother fled to Canada in XXXX 2012 and made a successful refugee claim on the basis of his ethnicity as a member of the Roma community and sexual orientation. This is corroborated by a copy of the decision and BOC submitted to the board.[11] These documents indicate that while in Slovakia, he was mostly resident in Poprad and was the victim of several physical attacks at school and in the community due to his ethnicity and that although he sought police assistance, he was in turn victimized by the police. The principal claimant testified that her family members’ experiences in Slovakia have contributed to her fears and belief that protection is not available to her in Slovakia.

[23]     The panel finds that the claimants have established on a balance of probabilities that they suffered from discrimination in their education, housing, employment and health care, that they were subject to a general atmosphere of insecurity and that they were violently assaulted due to their ethnicity in Slovakia on one occasion. The panel finds further that these cumulative experiences amounted to persecution and that there is a serious possibility that the claimants would suffer from discrimination amounting to persecution if they were to return to Slovakia.

[24]     Given the credible testimony by the claimants and the corroborating documentary evidence, the panel believes what the claimants have alleged in support of their claims and finds that their subjective fear of persecution on the basis of their Roma ethnicity is established, on a balance of probabilities.

Objective Basis: Slovakia

[25]     A review of the National Documentation Package for Slovakia indicates that members of the Roma community in Slovakia suffer social and economic exclusion and discrimination in almost all fields of life, including employment, education, health care, housing, loan practices, restaurants, hair salons, religious services and public transportation. The segregation of Romani children in schools, frequent misdiagnosis of Romani children as disabled, and inferior quality of education provided to Romani children continues despite policies and laws aimed to eradicate the inequality in the education system.[12]

[26]     Multiple sources indicate that the Roma population faces significant poverty and poor health outcomes. Recent government reports reveal that the life expectancy for Roma individuals is seven years below the general population. Roma settlements are described as suffering from a lack of basic facilities and infrastructure. Almost half of Roma households live in dwellings without a toilet, shower and bathroom and half live in neighbourhoods without a public sewage system. Many houses are built illegally, and Roma families face forced evictions.[13]

[27]     It is estimated that 70% of Roma job seekers from marginalized communities are unemployed. Additionally, the average wage for Roma individuals is 40% lower than non-Roma individuals and the employment situation is characterized by high job uncertainty and instability. The at-risk-of-poverty rate of Roma people in Slovakia is 87% compared to 13% in the general population.[14]

[28]     Based on the country condition evidence, the panel finds the claimants’ fear of return to Slovakia to have an objective basis. The claimants have established a well-founded fear of persecution in Slovakia.

State protection and internal flight alternative

[29]     States are presumed to be capable of protecting their own citizens, except in situations where the state is in a state of complete breakdown. To rebut the presumption of state protection, a claimant has to provide clear and convincing evidence of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect its citizens. The more democratic the state’s institutions, the more the claimant must have done to exhaust all the courses of action open to him or her.

[30]     In Slovakia, there are numerous instances of high-level politicians and public officials making derogatory comments and hate speech about the Roma community creating an environment of state sanctioned mistreatment of the Roma population.[15]

[31]     The United States Department of State Report on Human Rights Practises for 2020 in Slovakia indicates that violence and threats of violence against Roma and other ethnic and racial minorities, including by security forces, is a significant human rights issue.[16] Another source documents numerous instances of the police attacking Roma settlements in the past ten years in Slovakia with apparent impunity.[17]

[32]     The claimants attempted to obtain state protection through the police following the attack on them in May 2019. Despite having the ability to investigate the attack further as there were bystanders and cameras in the vicinity, the police did not pursue the matter further and when the claimants followed up, the police denied ever having received a report from the claimants.

[33]     The panel finds that in this case, there is no state protection or viable internal flight alternative available to the claimants. The country information and the claimants’ own experiences are clear and convincing evidence that rebuts the presumption that adequate state protection is available to the claimants in Slovakia. Additionally, there is a serious possibility of the persecution throughout the country as the climate of racism and targeting of members of the Roma community exists throughout Slovakia.


[34]     Based on the totality of the evidence, the panel finds the claimants to be Convention Refugees and therefore their claims are accepted.

(signed) L. Bonhomme

November 1, 2021

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

[2] Exhibit 2.1: Basis of Claim Form -TB9-27381.

[3] Exhibit 1: Package of information from the referring CBSA/IRCC.

[4] Exhibit 4: Claimants’ disclosure package (personal documents – 2 parts & country conditions – 2 parts).

[5] Exhibit 6: Claimants’ disclosure (personal document) and POE amendments received December 11, 2020.

[6] Exhibit 4: Claimants’ disclosure package (personal documents – 2 parts & country conditions – 2 parts).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Exhibit 12: Claimants’ disclosure (personal documents) received September 17, 2021.

[9] Exhibit 11: Claimants’ disclosure (commissioned affidavit of Eduard Conka) received September 21, 2021.

[10] Exhibit 12: Claimants’ disclosure (personal documents) received September 17, 2021.

[11] Exhibit 4: Claimants’ disclosure package (personal documents – 2 parts & country conditions – 2 parts).

[12] Exhibit 13: Index of National Documentation Package for Slovakia — August 31, 2021 version.

[13] Ibid, Item 1.7 and Item 13.13.

[14] Ibid, Item 13.4.

[15] Ibid, Item 13.1.

[16] Ibid, Item 2.1.

[17] Ibid, Item 10.1.

All Countries Slovakia

2020 RLLR 18

Citation: 2020 RLLR 18
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 10, 2020
Panel: Micheal Somers
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Howard Gilbert
Country: Slovakia
RPD Number: TB8-26137
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-26192, TB8-26204, TB8-26205
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000114-0000117


[1]       MEMBER: The Panel has considered the testimony offered today. And the testimony is from the parents, the married couple in this family. The Board has also considered other relevant evidence in this case and is ready to render its decision orally. The claimants’ a family, a mother, father, husband, wife and two sons. One of the sons, obviously the youngest is a minor. They are all citizens of Slovakia. And they have all made claims for refugee protection under Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Regarding the youngest son, his mother has been designated as the representative for him in this proceeding.

[2]       Regarding the determination of the claim of the youngest son, the Board has taken into consideration Guidelines regarding Child Refugees. Regarding the claim of the female claimant, that is the mother, the Board has taken into consideration the Chairperson ‘s Gender Guidelines regarding all relevant factors such as social, cultural context in which the mother finds herself in respect to the issues of state protection. And the changing country conditions were examined with respect to the Gender Guidelines.


[3]       The specifics of the claim are stated in the mother’ s, the adult female claimant’ s narrative which is found in her Basis of Claim form (BOC). She and the claimants allege the following. They are citizens of Slovakia and their ethnicity is that of Roma. They have been harassed, discriminated, threatened with violence and in some cases, assaulted while living in Slovakia. They maintain that the security apparatus in particular the police do not protect them because of their discriminatory attitude towards the Roma community. The claimants left Slovakia on or about [XXX], 2018. And filed their application for refugee protection on or about October 14th, 2018.


[4]       The Board finds that the claimants are Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The reasons are as follows.


[5]       The Board is concerned with the issues of credibility and state protection.

Identity and Credibility

[6]       The Board is satisfied with the claimants’ personal identity as well as being citizens of Slovakia. And this is based on certified copies of their passports. In addition, the Board is satisfied with the claimants’ ethnicity, that being Roma. It should be noted that the language that was used in today’s proceedings and hearing was that of Roma.

[7]       Furthermore, regarding their identity the Board found the two claimants that testified, the parents, that their testimony regarding their ethnicity was trustworthy, credible. As such, the Board accepts that the claimants are indeed Roma.

[8]       Regarding the country conditions articles and reports that were filed in this proceeding, it does indicate, that is the country conditions articles and reports, do indicate that the Roma community is discriminated on a continuous basis. Simply put, the country condition articles, reports do substantiate the claimants’ testimony and the allegations in their claim as to what they confronted. What other members of the Roma community confront on a daily basis.

[9]       I want to emphasize that the testimony, their brief testimony regarding the incidents that they confronted is substantiated in the country conditions articles. As such, the Board finds that the claimants do have a well­ founded fear of persecution. I would also like to emphasize that the country conditions articles and reports, many of them are from independent reputable international human rights organizations as well as reports from agencies and departments from very well dis-, respected western democracies such as Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

[10]     From the particular incidents that the claimants testified to and mentioned in their narrative, I think it would be fair to say not one of the incidents alone would amount to persecution.  However, put them all together I believe that they do amount to persecution. There, these incidents they testified to and more, and the country condition articles stated are continuous, widespread and yes, they do touch upon in my view core, some core human rights. It affects their education. And again it’ s based on their ethnic-, ethnicity. It affects their employment. It affects their treatment regarding social services. Many of these discriminatory attitudes are actually perpetrated by official agents of the government, including the police. It’s fair to say that this particular minority group as described in the country condition articles and reports are marginalized. Excluded from society in most of the spheres of normal daily life.

[11]     It is trite law that states that refugee law is forward-looking. If they return, would they be dis-, discriminated to the point of persecution. I’ve already answered that question, yes. I’m not going to go through the country condition articles, reports and, to any great detail. Because they all say the same. They state that there’s continued societal discrimination and violence towards the Roma in Slovakia. And yes, as the claimants testified to, there are incidents in which the police are, how I would describe, a little too aggressive and violent towards this particular minority community.

[12]     The reports indicate that extremists, nationalists, what could possibly be described as neo-Nazi groups continue to hold events designated or designated, or designed to intimidate the minority groups, including the Roma by these far right groups. Organized anti-Roma gatherings and locations where tension between the Roma and non-Roma population exist. There’s also indication that the Roma face discrimination not only regarding government services but also, to a certain extent, in the commercial sphere. That is indicate, indicate that employers in Slovakia refused to hire Roma.  And what is alarming is the statistics regarding the unemployed in Roma. That is unemployment statistics for non-Roma compared to Roma. There’s a stark difference.  A significant difference which cannot be explained away by coincidence.

[13]     Now, the Board does acknowledge that there is some comments made that the Slo-, Slovak government has expressed a willingness to improve the treatment of the Roma. And that the government has made commitments to the European Union to make efforts to improve conditions of its minority citizens including, the Roma. However, the Federal Court of Canada has held on a number of occasions that good intentions alone do not protect or improve the plight of the Roma in Slovakia. Is not good, is not good enough.

[14]     There’ s jurisprudence that states that having legislation that protects its citizens but not implemented at all or not adequately impie-, implemented while their citizens are being deprived of important rights, core rights, does not amount to adequate state protection. The Board finds that the Slu-, Slovak government at this time is unable to provide adequate state protection toits citizens of Roma ethnicity.

[15]     Simply put, the Board finds that the claimants have proved or rebutted the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence.

[16]     Based on the previous statements, it’ s clear that there is no viable IFA for these claimants as the discrimination against this minority group is widespread. And as noted, the Slovak government and the police at this time are not adequately protecting the Roma.


[17]     Based on this brief analysis, the Board finds that the claimants are Convention refugees. And accepts their claims.