Citation: 2021 RLLR 83
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 13, 2021
Panel: Brittany Silvestri
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Vilma Filici
RPD Number: TC1-10905
Associated RPD Number(s): TC1-10920
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A
 MEMBER: This is the decision of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX the principal claimant, and his wife XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX the associate claimant, and their claims for refugee protection file numbers TC1-10905 and TC1-10920. The claimants are citizens of Venezuela and claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I will call this the IRPA.
 The facts and events alleged in support of this claim are set out in the claimant’s respective Basis of Claim forms, BOC forms, found at Exhibit 2. In summary, the claimant’s fear of harm in Venezuela from the government (inaudible) due to their political opinion. This panel has determined that the claimants are Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of IRPA.
 I find that the claims have a nexus to the Convention based on political opinion. I have analysed the claims under Section 96 of the IRPA. In making this assessment, the panel has considered all of the evidence including the oral testimonies and the documentary evidence. The claimant’s identities were established on a balance of probabilities by the certified true copies of their Venezuelan issued passports contained in Exhibit 1.
 With regards to credibility, I find that the principal claimant testified in a straightforward fashion with regards to the central elements of his claim. The associate claimant agreed with her husband and spoke regarding details of her claim. The panel finds that the claimant’s overall testimony was credible.
 The principal claimant described being persecuted in Venezuela due to his political opinion. The claimant’s provided testimony regarding their activities with the opposition parties. Regarding Un Nuevo Tiempo and Voluntad Popular providing supporting documents including the proof of membership letters, membership cards, searchable QR membership codes and affidavits of those who they organized and protest with. I put full weight on these documents that corroborate the events and find that the profile of political opinion is established.
 In July of 2019, the principal claimant was permanently removed from his job by order of Mayor Willy Casanova. He was removed without receipt of any payment of his social benefits for being an opponent of the government. He provided sworn declarations from two colleagues in support of the fact of the circumstances of the firing. The panel puts full weight on these documents and finds that the claimant was fired on account of his perceived opposition of the government.
 The claimant testified how during the lead up of the December 6, 2020 parliamentary elections, the principal claimant and his wife shared the news that they should boycott. They spread the word that the abstention votes and a week before the elections, they were reported to the communal council. They were visited by several members of the Counsel led by Jennifer Goodoi (ph) who was the main coordinator of the PSUV in the Cristo Duranza (ph) parish, accompanied by the Yeanina Echevaria (ph) and Marisol Calvejar (ph). They were threatened by those female members in front of the home and they were threatened that the next time SEBIN would attend. They were told to leave and not return because traitors like them had to be jailed or eradicated.
 On December 3, 2020, they bought air tickets to travel to Canada. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the earliest tickets they could secure were for XXXX XXXX 2020 leaving from Bogota, Colombia. On December 5, 2020, they bought a ticket from Rioja to Bogota leaving on XXXX XXXX 2020.
 On Sunday, December 6, 2020, it was the day of the elections. There was a large abstention of the vote. The Sunday night of the election, the woman of the community council returned to the home. They threatened the claimants that they would be stripped of their home, deprived of their freedom. The panel finds that the claimants were credible in describing the ongoing threats against him and his wife by the community council who identified him as being in opposition to the current government.
 At dawn on Monday, XXXX XXXX they paid a friend 500 US dollars to take them by highway to Colombia. The border was closed due to COVID-19. They left the country through back roads called las trochas where there is no immigration or security. These roads are very dangerous and frequented by Colombian guerilla, but they risked it to leave the country. They were alerted by friends in the early morning of XXXX XXXX 2020 that a black SEBIN van looked for them and that their house was raided. They provided an affidavit that corroborates this fact. I put full weight to this document.
 They stayed in a hotel until their flight to Bogota arrived. On XXXX XXXX they travelled to Bogota where they stayed in a further hotel and then on XXXX 2020, they flew to Canada where they were met by family, specifically their daughter and her husband. On March 15, 2021, they were informed by a neighbour in Venezuela, XXXX XXXX (ph), that the community council who had visited before arrived with Colectivos, who were motorized and armed, and took possession of their home. They gave their home to a family from the community council. The claimants provided further documents corroborating these facts.
 The panel accepts that the claimant and his wife have lost their family home, as was threatened by the communal council when they were identified in opposition of the government. The panel finds that the claimants face threats in Venezuela due to their political opinion, that these incidents did occur and on a balance of probabilities are likely to occur on a forward-looking basis. The panel finds that the claimants have established on a balance of probabilities a subjective fear in Venezuela.
 On the matter of objective basis, the evidence before me on a balance of probabilities supports an objective basis for the claimant’s fear upon return to Venezuela. Country documents corroborate that the Venezuelan government targets those who are opposed to the Maduro regime.
 The objective evidence at Item 1.6 of the National Documentation Package for Venezuela indicates that security forces in Venezuela have perpetrated a number of violent acts against demonstrators, actual or perceived opposition members and activists, elected officials and students and that Venezuelan authorities have implemented measures aimed at suppressing and punishing the expression of dissenting views. They’ve targeted victims by reason of their actual or perceived opposition to the government.
 It is also noted at Item 2.13 of the NDP that people have been charged with vague and ambiguous criminal offences such as defamation, high treason and incitement to violence, which has resulted in the criminalization of public opinion and the criminalization of criticism and a violation of legal principles and standards. The documentary evidence at Item 2.13 also indicates persons are arbitrarily detained and held as political prisoners by the regime, including citizens from every walk of life who were exercising their fundamental right to peaceful protest and demanding respect for the rights protected by the constitution which were denied to them by the government of President Maduro.
 This panel finds that the claimants have established an objective basis for their claims and that their fears are well-founded.
 Regarding state protection, the United States Department of State report for 2020 indicates that there is a pervasive corruption and impunity among all security forces and in other national and state government officers in Venezuela, including at the highest levels. It was noted that the government has taken no effective action to combat the impunity that’s prevalent in all levels of the civilian bureaucracy and the security forces.
 Amnesty International report in 2020 indicates that most victims of human rights violations continue to Jack access to truth, justice, reparation and that the victims and their families were often subjected to intimidation. In this case, as the claimant’ s fears are of serious harm from the state including SEBIN and the Colectivos, based on the documentary evidence, this panel finds that on the balance of probabilities, the claimants would not be able to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities in Venezuela because adequate state protection would not be available to the claimant. The assumption that claimants would be able to receive adequate state protection in Venezuela from the state is contradicted by the country conditions evidence. The panel is satisfied that the claimants have rebutted the presumption of state protection.
 The panel further finds that the claimant’ s fears is actually of serious harm at the hands of the state and the current actions taken by the state against political opposition is nationwide, as referenced in the evidence cited above, and therefore, there is no Internal Flight Alternative available throughout Venezuela for these claimants.
 In conclusion, I find that the claimants have established serious possibility of persecution in Venezuela based on a Convention ground, namely the claimants’ political opinions. The claim for refugee protection is therefore accepted.
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