Citation: 2021 RLLR 82
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 4, 2021
Panel: Erin Doucette
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Tshiombo Achille Kabongo
RPD Number: TC1-07766
Associated RPD Number(s): TC1-07767 / TC1-07768 / TC1-07769
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A
REASONS FOR DECISION
 XXXX XXXX XXXX (principal claimant), his wife, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (associate claimant) and their children, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (female minor claimant), and XXXX XXXX XXXX (male minor claimant), claim to be citizens of Ethiopia and claim refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
 Their claims for refugee protection were heard jointly, pursuant to Rule 55 of the Refugee Protection Division Rules (RPD Rules). The minor claimants relied on the Basis of Claim (BOC) narrative of the principal claimant. The panel appointed the principal claimant as the minor claimants’ designated representative.
 The details of the claimants’ allegations are fully set out in their BOC forms as amended. To summarize, the principal claimant alleges a fear of persecution from the Ethiopian authorities based on his imputed anti-government political opinion and activity in support of the Raya ethnicity and because of his ethnicity as Tigrayan. The associate claimant and minor claimants allege a fear of persecution based on their membership in a particular social group as the family of the principal claimant. They allege that state protection is not available to them nor is there anywhere safe to relocate within Ethiopia.
 The panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA. The claimants face a serious possibility of persecution based on the principal claimant’s imputed anti-government political opinion, activity, and Tigrayan ethnicity.
 The personal identities of the claimants are established on a balance of probabilities by their Ethiopian passports.
 A claimant’s sworn testimony is presumed truthful unless there are reasons to doubt the veracity of their allegations. The presumption of truthfulness is rebuttable and a claimant bears the burden of establishing their claim. In assessing credibility, the panel is mindful of the many difficulties faced by the claimant in establishing a claim, including nervousness, cultural factors, and the setting of the virtual hearing room. The claimants relied on an Amharic interpreter during the hearing.
 In assessing the principal and associate claimants’ testimony, the panel has taken into consideration the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX both dated October 3, 2021. The respective assessment reports document self-reported sleep disruption and self-reported memory and concentration problems. The XXXX recommends that questions be posed to the claimants in a sensitive manner and that frequent breaks be provided. In light of the XXXX recommendations, the panel offered to repeat questions if required and encouraged the claimants to let the panel know if they required a break, so that breaks could be arranged as needed.
 The principal claimant testified in a straightforward manner and there we no material inconsistencies or omissions between his testimony and the other documents in evidence that were not reasonably explained. Overall, the panel finds the claimants credibly established their allegations on a balance of probabilities.
Principal claimant credibly established profile as Tigrayan
 The panel finds that the principal claimant has credibly established his ethnicity as Tigrayan as alleged.
 A Tigrayan speaking interpreter was provided for the hearing, as this is the mother tongue of the principal claimant, and they did speak in Tigrayan on the recorded. However, the associate claimant, who is not Tigrayan, does not speak Tigrayan. It was determined that the mutual language of communication between the principal claimant and the associate claimant is Amharic, which the interpreter speaks as well. The hearing proceeded in Amharic; nevertheless, it was confirmed on the record that the principal claimant speaks Tigrayan.
 The principal claimant has provided a copy of his kebele identification card which confirms his ethnicity as Tigray. The panel finds that the principal claimant’s kebele is a reliable document in credibly establishing the claimant’s ethnicity as Tigrayan because its details and appearance are consistent with the objective documents regarding identity cards issued in Addis Ababa and as such the panel has no reason to doubt the genuineness of this document.
 The panel also gives weight to the affidavit from the principal claimant’s father and kebele from the principal claimant’s sister in credibly establishing his ethnicity as Tigrayan. These documents confirm the ethnicity of the principal claimant’s father and sister as Tigrayan as well. These documents do not present credibility concerns, as such the panel finds them to be reliable and gives them weight in credibly establishing the principal claimant’s ethnicity as Tigrayan as alleged.
The principal claimant has credibly established his allegations of imputed anti-government political opinion
 The panel finds on a balance of probabilities, that the principal claimant has credibly established imputed political opinion and activity perceived as anti-government which brought him to the attention of the Ethiopian authorities.
 The claimant explained that he was employed with XXXX XXXX a government owned national XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. During work meetings management attempted to recruit employees to the Prosperity Party. The principal claimant explained that during these meetings he voiced his opposition to the Prosperity Party. He also testified that his manager and party members asked him on separate occasions to join the Prosperity Party and he refused.
 The panel finds that the claimant did not embellish his testimony and was clear that although he held an anti-government opinion, he was not himself politically active other than belonging to a committee dedicated to supporting the Raya people. He explained that his mother is of Raya ethnicity and his one brother still lives in the city of Alamata, in the Rayan area, which is not formally recognized by the government nor surrounding Tigray and Amara regions. He said that his committee activities came to the party recruiters’ attention, and they asked him to recruit people from his committee to the party, which he also refused to do. He also provided a letter of support form his friend and colleague who was aware of his committee activities. He testified in a detailed and spontaneous manner about the committee and his activities and there were not material inconsistencies and omissions. Any concerns raised by the panel were reasonably explained by the principal claimant.
 The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has credibly established an imputed political opinion based on having voiced his opposition to the government of the day, the ruling Prosperity Party and for refusing to join and aid in recruiting people to the party.
The principal claimant has credibly established allegations of police persecution in Ethiopia
 The panel finds that the principal claimant has credibly established his allegations of police persecution in Ethiopia because of his perceived political opinion. The claimant testified in a straightforward and genuine manner about his arrest and detention in Ethiopia from XXXX XXXX 2019. His testimony was consistent with his BOC. He testified that he was interrogated and beaten during his detention. He was never officially told why he was arrested or detained, but that during his interrogation comments were made about his anti-government political opinions. The panel accepts his testimony on a balance of probabilities as credible.
 The principal claimant also provided documentary evidence to corroborate that he was arrested and detained and released on bail as alleged. He provided a letter from his sister and while the letter does not expressly say that she witnessed his arrest, the panel finds the claimant’s explanation for this clarification reasonable noting that they reside in the same home which has been credibly established by comparing the addresses on their respective kebeles which the panel finds genuine. The details in his sister’s letter are consistent with the claimant’s evidence and BOC. The panel finds this document to be reliable in credibly establishing the claimant’s allegations of arrest and detention by the Ethiopian authorities and subsequent release on bail.
 The letter from the principal claimant’s friend and former colleague, contained some material additions as compared to his BOC and BOC amendment. Specifically, the principal claimant does not mention in either his BOC or BOC amendment the name of his friend or that this friend paid his bail, witnessed the state he was in when released and drove him home. The principal claimant acknowledged that he did not include this information and explained that he did not know he had to. The panel does not find this to be a reasonable explanation noting these details are material to his allegations, especially concerning the bail conditions under which he was released. Furthermore, the BOC instructions clearly state that the claimant is to provide such evidence that may support their claim. Rule 11 of the Refugee Protection Division Rules also applies to material aspects of the claim. Nonetheless, the letter from his sister and the medical documentation, discussed below, remedy any credibility findings in relation to these omissions not reasonably explained.
 The panel finds that the medical documentation provided corroborates the injuries the principal claimant alleges he sustained while being detained by Ethiopian authorities from XXXX XXXX 2019. While the report does not indicate the accident or injury history, the objective medical findings are consistent with the injuries the principal claimant alleges he received at the hands of the Ethiopian authorities while being detained. The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the medical report credibly establishes the principal claimant’s allegations of arrest, detention, and physical abuse by the Ethiopian authorities as alleged.
The principal claimant has credibly established his ability to leave Ethiopia after his arrest and detention while released on bail conditions
 The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has reasonably explained how he was able to leave Ethiopia by airplane despite having been arrested and released on bail conditions. He testified that he bribed a security agent with $50,000 Birr. The panel finds that, as an airline employee, the principal claimant, would on a balance of probabilities have knowledge of this as an option for airport exit. He explained that he asked around to learn that he could do this. Furthermore, the objective documents credibly establish that bail conditions do not necessary prevent someone from exiting Ethiopia by air.
The principal claimant has credibly established his allegations of forward-facing persecution from the Ethiopian authorities
 The principal claimant has credibly established a forward-facing fear or persecution from the Ethiopian authorities. He explained that one of his bail conditions was that on the first of every month of the Ethiopian calendar he was to report to the police station. Since he absconded and essentially reneged on his bail conditions the police have come to his home looking for him, questioning his family members, and have deposited summons notices. The police notices are consistent with the information reported in the letter from the principal claimant’s sister and with the country documents specific to delivery methods and appearances of police summons. The panel finds that the principal claimant has credibly established his allegations of forward-facing persecution from the Ethiopian authorities on a balance of probabilities.
 In light of the foregoing, the principal claimant has credibly established his subjective fear as related to his imputed political opinion. He has also credibly established his profile as an ethnic Tigrayan.
Well-Founded Fear of Persecution
 The panel finds that there is an objective basis for the claimants’ subjective fear. In making this finding the panel gives weight to the following:
 While the US DOS report reflects some of the positive changes in the human rights climate in Ethiopia as a result of Prime Minister Abiy’s assumption of office, it also notes that as a result of a lack of institutional capacity, often the government was impotent in prosecuting officials who committed human rights abuses resulting in impunity. However, more recently Amnesty International acknowledges that recurrent unrest and violence led to increased political polarization along ethnic lines, and largely prevented the realization of political and human rights reforms initiated in 2018.
 The security and human rights situation in Ethiopia deteriorated as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed struggled to maintain order amid growing unrest and political tensions. The rights landscape was defined by ongoing abuses by government security forces, attacks on civilians by armed groups, deadly violence along communal and ethnic lines, and a political crisis.
 While the DFAT report notes that violence based on ethnicity is not common in Addis Ababa, where the claimants resided in Ethiopia before they left, it does note that anti-Tigrayan sentiment has become more overt since 2018 and hate speech against ordinary Tigrayans has increased in this time.
 More recent country condition updates; however, reflect the deteriorating conditions in Ethiopia, for Tigrayans throughout the country more broadly. After the outbreak of the armed struggle between the Tigray region and the federal government in early November 2020, anti Tigrayan sentiments in Ethiopia increased. According to various sources, both confidential and open, there have been cases of ethnic profiling of people with a Tigrayan background even in Addis Ababa.
 Counsel provided updated and reliable country condition documents that are consistent with the objective documents with respect to risks to Tigrayans outside Tigray and specifically in Addis Ababa.
 With regards to actual or imputed political opinion, Abiy’s ruling Prosperity Party (a reconfiguration of the ethno-regional coalition that ruled Ethiopia since 199) has partly reverted to authoritarian tactics, jailing opposition leaders and limiting media freedom in the face of growing regional and intercommunal violence.
 A January 2020 revision of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) law improved upon the previous ATP, but has continued to draw criticism from many groups, including Amnesty. International, that it could be used against those critical of the government noting provisions that restrict rights to freedom of expression.
 Lastly, the US DOS report confirms torture and abuse of detainees, arbitrary arrests and deplorable detention center conditions consistent with the principal claimant’s allegations.
 In light of the foregoing, the panel finds that there is an objective basis for the principal claimant’s subjective fear. The principal claimant has credibly established a well-founded fear of persecution from the Ethiopian authorities based on his imputed political opinion. His forward facing risk is further augmented by his profile as an ethnic Tigrayan. The associate and minor claimants face a serious possibility of persecution in Ethiopia based on their membership in a particular social group as family members of the principal claimant.
 The claimants have rebutted the presumption of state protection. The panel finds that state protection would not be available to the claimants if they were to seek it in Ethiopia noting the state is an agent of persecution which the claimants have credibly established on a balance of probabilities.
 In coming to this finding, the panel notes the following country condition information related to state protection which confirm ethnic profiling of Tigrayans by police, that arbitrary arrests and detentions occur, and that due process rights and rights to a fair trial are not generally respected all of which are occurring in a rapidly devolving political climate heightened by increased ethnic tension and violence throughout Ethiopia.
Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)
 The panel considered whether a viable IFA exists for the claimants in Ethiopia. However, when considering the totality of their personal evidence and the objective documentary evidence, and the fact that they are from Addis Ababa, which until recently was considered low risk for ethnic violence, the panel finds that a viable IFA in Ethiopia does not exist for the claimants. Simply put, they face a serious possibility of persecution anywhere in Ethiopia based on the principal claimant’s imputed political opinion, the credibly established forward-facing risk of persecution from the Ethiopian authorities and the principal claimant’s profile as an ethnic Tigrayan.
 Having considered the totality of the evidence, the panel finds that the claimants, XXXX XXXX XXXX, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA.
 Their claims are accepted.
(signed) Erin Doucette
November 4, 2021
 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), SC 2001, c 27, as amended.
 Refugee Protection Division Rules, SOR/2012-256, Rule 55.
 Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and Exhibit 9.
 Exhibit 1, Exhibit 5.
 Maldonado v. Canada (MEI) (1994), 23 1mm LR (2d) 220 (FCTD).
 Gill v. Canada (MCI), 2004 FC 1498, at para. 25.
 Exhibit 8.
 Exhibit 7, pgs. 26-27.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 3.7.
 Exhibit 7, pgs. 13-14 and pgs. 29-30.
 Exhibit 7, pgs. 2-5.
 Exhibit 7, pgs. 16-19.
 Exhibit 7, pgs. 20-25, Supra notes 8 and 10.
 Supra note 10.
 Refugee Protection Division Rules (SOR/2012-256), Rule 11.
 Exhibit 7, pg. 1.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 14.2 at pg. 2.
 Exhibit 7, pgs. 6-12.
 Supra note 13, pgs. 20-25, Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 10.2.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 2.1 at pg.2.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 2.2.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 2.3.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 1.5.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 2.4 at pg. 18.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 1.23 at pgs. 62-63.
 Exhibit 10.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 2.4 at pg. 2.
 Supra notes 21 and 23.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Item 2.1 at pgs. 4-5.
 See para. 22.
 Exhibit 3, NDP for Ethiopia (25 October 2021), Items 2.1, 2.3, 2.4.