All Countries Sri Lanka

2021 RLLR 93

Citation: 2021 RLLR 93
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 25, 2021
Panel: Devin Macdonald
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Sarah L Boyd
Country: Sri Lanka
RPD Number: TC0-08453
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: The claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX alleges to be a citizen of Sri Lanka and claims protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The allegations are detailed in the claimant’s Basis of Claim narrative found at Exhibit 2 as well as the amended Basis of Claim narrative inform found at Exhibit 5. In essence, the claimant alleged that he faces a risk of detention and cruel treatment from Sri Lankan authorities due to his perceived support of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE. The Panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee under s. 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Panel finds that the claimant has established his personal and national identity by way of the copy of his national identity card and birth certificate, seized by CBSA and copies are found in Exhibit 1. A colour copy of the national ID can also be found at Exhibit 4. The Panel also relies on the additional identity documents contained in Exhibit 7 provided by the claimant which includes the claimant’s family registration card and (inaudible) record sheet. The claimant’s testimony was consistent with regards to his personal details.

[2]       The claim alleged fears stem from the Sri Lankan authorities perception of him as a supporter of the LTTE group because he repaired of a figure of Tamil armed struggle and due to his profile as a young Tamil man. As such, the Panel finds that the claim has nexus to the Convention grounds political opinion, race and membership in a particular social group.

[3]       In assessing credibility, the Panel is mindful of the particular circumstances of the claimant that may impact his ability to give testimony. The claimant alleges that he suffered head injuries that impact his ability to immediately recall details, the claimant also provided reports for mental health professionals indicating that the claimant has been diagnosed with XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX by family physician and that his symptoms results in emotional distress and difficulties in daily cognition such as concentration in memory. The Panel finds that the claimant is credible with respect to the core allegations of his claim, that he is a young Tamil man from the north, that he worked as a XXXX and then in that capacity he carried out repair XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX of a Tamil leader who engaged in arms struggle. As a result, the claimant was detained and mistreated by Sri Lankan authorities and the claimant made unsuccessful attempts to flee Sri Lanka.

[4]       In 2018, the claimant was targeted again after participating in ceremony commemorating the death of a local Tamil advocate. And later that year, he was attacked by a criminal organization and was subsequently arrested by authorities who accused him of being connected to the criminal organization and to the LTTE. The claimant did not provide any official documentation for operating his mistreatment from Sri Lankan authorities explaining that he did not receive any official documents and that one of the conditions of his release was that he would not seek out medical treatment. He provided a letter from his wife and father and brother and affidavits from his father and brother, corroborating the events in his narrative. The claimant also provided a letter from his former employer who corroborates the work that he did XXXX XXXX XXXX and that the claimant’s family informed the employer that the claimant had been detained. When the employer inquired why the claimant was not attending work, the employer also corroborates seeing the claim when he was released from detention and described his injuries. The Panel provided photographs of his injuries as well at Exhibit 7.

[5]       So the Panel finds that the statements from the claimant’s father, his brother and the former employee are probative in establishing the mistreatment that the claimant faced at the hands of Sri Lankan authorities. The claimant provided a letter from a relative whom he alleges that he hid with while arranging his exit from Sri Lanka. The letter is inconsistent the Basis of Claim narrative and as it indicates that the issues that forced the claimant into hiding stems from him fixing the statue to whereas the Basis of Claim indicates that the event that led to the claimant into hiding stemmed from his brother reporting a criminal group and then the police — and then the claimant facing harassment from Sri Lankan authorities. The Panel brought this inconsistency to the claimant’s detention and the cream claimant that he stayed at his relative’s house on more than one occasion and in submissions Counsel indicated that the event involving the statue could reasonably be interpreted as the reason why the claimant went into hiding because it was what initiated the claimant’s mistreatment from Sri Lankan authorities.

[6]       And in assessing the explanations, the claimant’s explanations results in a significant omission from the claimant Basis of Claim, that he hit with the relative on other occasions which the claimant did not mention in the Basis of Claim. And this suggests that a negative credit inference should be drawn. However, it’s mitigated by the documented memory problems of the claimant that developed after his head injury. The Panel also questioned the claimant whether Sri Lankan authorities came to look for him at his relatives home and the claimant indicated that they did not. The Panel brought to the claimant’s detention that the letter from his relative indicates that the Sri Lankan authorities did come to look for him when — and he was hiding in the attic. When that inconsistency was brought to the claimant’s detention, he explained maybe the army did come to look for him but he has no knowledge of that because no one told him and he spent his time in the attic. The Panel does not draw a negative inference from this inconsistency. The claimant previously testified about spending time in the attic and that his family began to arrange his exit from Sri Lanka after authorities look for him at his family home, whereas the letter indicates that his family began to our arrange his exit from Sri Lanka when authorities came to look for at his relative’s home.

[7]       So I find that the detail of whether the army looked for him at his relatives home or his family home or both, it’s a minor inconsistent detail of the consistent allegations that the claimant’s family arranged for him to leave the country because the authorities were seeking him out. The claimant’s knowledge of where they were seeking him out is second hand knowledge. So the Panel does not expect a high degree of certainty and can expect some inconsistencies to arise between the claimant’s account of events event and his relative’s account of events. Overall, I find that these inconsistencies presented in the relative’s letter do not and impugn the claimant’s credibility. The Panel questioned the claimant’s apparent ability to return to Sri Lanka twice without issue when he tried to flee the country in 2018. He alleged he was unable to complete his journey and the Panel asked the claimant about his failure to assert a claim for protection in Hong Kong or Singapore before returning to Sri Lanka.

[8]       Taking into account the claimant’s experiences and his mental state, the Panel does not draw negative inference from the claimant’s failure to claim in Hong Kong or Singapore. In the context of this claim, the claimant had recently faced mistreatment from Sri Lankan authorities and it’s reasonable that he would follow the instructions of his agents to return rather than to ask authorities who are unknown to him in Singapore or Hong Kong for aid. Moreover, given the country documentation regarding corruption in Sri Lanka at Exhibit 3 Item 7.6, it is not implausible that the claimant’s agent would be able to arrange for the claimant to return without issue from airport authorities once it was learned that the claimant would not be able to continue on his journey. Item 14.1 of Exhibit 3 speaks to mistreatment of Tamils that they face when returning to Sri Lanka. That document does not establish that Tamils returning to Sri Lanka from abroad are mistreated in all cases. So in assessing the claimant’s test and in view of the totality of the evidence, the Panel considers these inconsistencies and the evidence to be limited, mostly to these single letter found at Exhibit 7 from the claimant’s relative. And it does not impugn the claimant’s overall credibility.

[9]       Overall, the claimant’s testimony, it was fluid, unrehearsed and it contained spontaneous details tangential to the allegations and his Basis of Claim. The Panel accepts the claimant’s allegations and finds on a balance of probabilities that he is considered a person of interest to Sri Lankan authorities because of their perception of him as connected to the LTTE. As such, the Panel finds that the claimant has a subjective fear of return to Sri Lanka. The claimant’s subjective fear is based and grounded in the objective evidence, the objective evidence shows ongoing abuses against perceived supporters of the LTTE. Sources indicate that impunity for such abuses persist and that many persons who were alleged to have committed crimes, serious crimes against Tamil individuals are now in government positions. Suspected sympathizers of the LTTE are still subject to arbitrary arrest and there is ample evidence of Tamils being monitored abroad and being suspected of having links to the LTTE upon their return to Sri Lanka. Even returning Tamils who have a low profile and are only connected to the LTTE through a historical association such as the claimant have been targeted and Tamil returnees who claim refugee status abroad and returned to Sri Lanka are sometimes interrogated and detained at the airport. So I find that the claimant, if he were to return to Sri Lanka, he would continue to be suspected of having links to the LTTE because of his age, his ethnicity, his place of origins and his past detention. The Panel finds that the claimant has established that he would face a serious possibility of persecution based on his perceived support of the LTTE if he were to return to Sri Lanka, thus the claimant is well founded.

[10]     In terms of state protection, Amnesty International reports that Tamils continue to complain of ethnic profiling, surveillance and harassment by police who suspect them of having LTTE links, police continue to be accused of abusive practices against the Tamil population. Given this, I find that the claimant genuine in his ethnicity and his history and where he lives in the country would not have access to adequate state protection should he return to Sri Lanka? Moreover, the agents of persecution include the Sri Lankan army has a nationwide reach and which is in effect a state itself, I therefore find that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Sri Lanka. The objective evidence previously referred to shows that failed refugee claimants, especially Tamil men, face the possibility of interrogation upon return. So accordingly, I find that the claimant would not have a viable internal flight alternative if he were to return to Sri Lanka. And based on the above analysis, the Panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee under s. 96. The claim is accepted. That concludes the reasons.

——————–REASONS CONCLUDED ——————–