All Countries Colombia

2021 RLLR 91

Citation: 2021 RLLR 91
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 29, 2021
Panel: Dewa Baqi
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Patricia Ritter
Country: Colombia
RPD Number: TC0-06790
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division for XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. You are claiming to be a citizen of Colombia and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to s. 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case and I am ready to render my decision orally. The written decision will come to you shortly and maybe amended to include specific citations to exhibits in case law as needed.

[2]       The Panel has determined that the claimant is a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection pursuant to s. 96 and 97(1) of IRPA. You allege that you are a citizen of Colombia and that you fear harm in Colombia from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC, dissidents who are targeting you because of your work with vulnerable communities who are victims of war. You allege that there is no state protection for you or an internal flight alternative.

[3]       Your personal identity as a citizen of Colombia has been established by our testimony and the supporting documents filed in Exhibit 1, namely your genuine passport from Colombia. I find, based on a balance of probabilities, that identity and country of reference have been established.

[4]       I find that there is a link between what you fear and one of the five grounds, namely membership in a particular social group as a social activist. I have therefore assessed the claim under s. 96.

[5]       I find you to be a credible witness. Your testimony was clear and consistent with the written narrative and evidence on file. You established that in 2018 you graduated from the XXXX XXXX XXXX with a diploma in XXXX. As a requirement for your graduation, you started a project in 2016 that involved interviewing migrants who moved to a city due to the increasing violence caused by the FARC. You established that after graduation you continued to work with the vulnerable communities of Caloto and Santander de Quilichao, particularly with victims of war.

[6]       You spoke passionately about your desire to give the people in these communities who are minorities a voice and how you have a personal connection to this cause because your family had also fled their community for the same reasons. You spoke spontaneously and in detailed and knowledgeable manner about the challenges faced by those displaced by FARC and what makes the specific communities you worked with vulnerable. You spoke with convincing clarity about the type of work you were doing that involved XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX.

[7]       You established that the FARC considered you to be a social leader. You first received a call in 2016 warning you to be careful about what you wrote about in your school project. You continued to receive calls in 2017 warning you to stop and telling you they were aware of your activity. As a result, you stopped your project for two months. In 2019, you received multiple calls from FARC telling you to stop your work in the communities of Caloto and Santander de Quilichao. They threatened you to stop visiting these areas or working with former combatants and to leave the area. They called you a meddler and declared you a military target, informing you that they would double their surveillance on you. As a result, you stopped working completely.

[8]       I know that your claim is supported by the following documents: a letter from XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (ph) certifying that she was a migrant who was interviewed by you as part of your graduation thesis from January 2016 to September 2017, letters from participants in your workshops that took place in Guapi and Cauca, letters from your family members, a letter from the organization XXXX XXXX XXXX that you had volunteered with, and a copy of your reports to the prosecutor’s office and the Attorney General’s office.

[9]       Accordingly, on the whole, in terms of your general credibility, I found you to be a credible witness and I accept — I therefore accept what you have alleged in your oral testimony and Basis of Claim form based on a balance of probabilities. Your subjective fear is established by your credible and corroborated testimony.

[10]     I also find that your claim is objectively well-founded. Item 7.37 in the NDP reports civilians in various parts of the country suffered serious abuses at the hands of the FARCs, FARC dissidents, and paramilitary successor groups and the human rights defenders, journalists, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian leaders and other community activists face pervasive death threats and violence.

[11]     Item 1.8 in the most recent NDP for Colombia States following. According to the Human Rights Watch, since the demobilization of FARC, community activists face death threats and violence, mostly from guerilla groups and successor groups, and perpetrators are rarely held accountable.

[12]     The Office of the Ombudsman identify leaders of victims and displaced persons and human activists are some of the most vulnerable groups due to their activities in the context of the armed conflict. Targeting these profiles are motivated by the drive to eliminate threats to their interests by social leaders who social and community involvement concerns issues such as land restitution and the return of displaced land to their people — displaced people to their lands.

[13]     I find that the objective evidence is consistent with your subjective fear. Therefore, based on the totality of evidence, I find, on a balance of probabilities, your fear has an objective basis and is well-founded.

State Protection

[14]     There is a presumption of state protection unless the country is in a state of complete breakdown. This can be rebutted with clear and convincing evidence that the protection would not be reasonably forthcoming.

[15]     You testified that you attempted to seek state protection and were told that you were not — that there were not enough resources to protect you and that they would send someone to your area if possible. They also told you to call in case of an emergency.

[16]     The country conditions reveal item 7.37 in the NDP indicates that the FARC commonly kills without warning. Accessing state protection is really hard for those targeted by criminal groups due to a very high threshold for eligibility and a certain amount of public exposure is required for known leaders. Many community leaders do not receive threats or do not report them to the prosecutor, which is a requirement for them to receive protection.

[17]     Item 2.13 further states that demobilization of FARC was not accompanied by the mobilization and integrated presence of the state in the areas previously under its control. This inaction of the state allowed illegal armed groups and criminal groups to reorganize power around illicit economies. Defenders of human rights have become the targets of attacks, and they lack effective state protection. The delays, lack of political determination, and failure to allocate sufficient funds for the implementation of the peace agreement which prioritizes, among other things, the dismantling of these groups and the integrated presence of the state, is undoubtedly one of the key structural causes that keeps human rights defenders at risk.

[18]     These reports establish groups regularly target social and community leaders who they see as threats to their control over an area or population or threats to their interest. The report also discloses that there are swift and severe consequences for those who go to the police. The reports also establish an inability of the Colombian authorities to provide protection to those facing threats from gangs and guerilla groups.

[19]     I find that your experiences are consistent with the country documentation. Based on your personal circumstances and the country documentation, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection and that it is not forthcoming to you.

Internal Flight Alternative

[20]     I have a considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for you. With respect to the first prong, I find that there is a serious risk of persecution or risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment in Colombia. You testified that you were declared a military target and that the FARC dissidents were able to locate you and informed you that they had knowledge of your whereabouts, activities, even the way you were dressed.

[21]     Items 7.1 of the NDP describes being a military objective means that one’s life and physical integrity and freedom is endangered. The evidence also establishes they or any groups that are targeting you have the motivation to find you. You have filed police complaints and protection requests which is something all groups in Colombia take very seriously and try to respond to with severe consequences.

[22]     On the second prong, I find that you — it would not be reasonable in all the circumstances for you to reside in the IFA, because you testified that if you returned to Colombia you would continue to advocate for the rights of minorities and look for work as an anthropologist because it was what you went to school for. This would make it easy for you to be targeted and found by the members of the FARC dissidents.

[23]     The reports also disclosed that armed groups have reach throughout Colombia and can target individuals even in areas where they do not exert control. In fact, the peace process between the government and FARC has created a power vacuum in areas previously controlled by the FARC and led to a growth in new and less predictable armed groups operating. Accordingly, I find that you are a serious — that you face a serious possibility of persecution throughout the country. I therefore find that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to you.

[24]     Based on the totality of the evidence and my analysis above, I find the claimant to be a Convention refugee, and I accept your claim.