All Countries Sri Lanka

2021 RLLR 96

Citation: 2021 RLLR 96
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 9, 2021
Panel: Suraj Balakrishnan
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Naseem Mithoowani
Country: Sri Lanka
RPD Number: TC1-02935
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       The claimant, XXXX XXXX, alleges that he is a citizen of Sri Lanka, and is claiming refugee protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).


[2]       Having considered all of the evidence, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant has established that he would face a serious possibility of persecution in Sri Lanka because of his imputed political opinion in support of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).


[3]       The specifics of the claim are set out in the narrative of the claimant’s Basis of Claim Form, as amended (BOC).[i] The following is a summary of the claimant’s allegations.

[4]       The claimant alleges to be a citizen of Sri Lanka. He fears persecution from Sri Lankan authorities because of his imputed political opinion in support of the LTTE.


[5]       The claimant’s identity has been established, on a balance of probabilities, through his testimony, as well as documentation filed; namely, copies of his Sri Lankan passport,[ii] national identity card,[iii] and birth certificate.[iv]


[6]       The panel finds that there is a nexus between the harms that the claimant fears and his imputed political opinion in favor of the LTTE. The claim will therefore be assessed pursuant to section 96 of IRPA. The test under section 96 is whether there is a serious possibility of persecution should the claimant return to Sri Lanka and the panel has found that the claimant has met that test.


[7]       When a claimant affirms to tell the truth, this creates a presumption of truthfulness unless there is evidence to the contrary. The claimant’s testimony was consistent with his BOC, detailed, and forthright. When asked about details not set forth in his BOC, the claimant provided spontaneous detail.

[8]       The claimant testified that in 2000, the claimant, his father, and about 80-100 other males were detained and beaten by the Sri Lankan Army on suspicion of being an LTTE supporter. On June 15, 2019, the claimant was approached by Sri Lankan Army personnel at his shop, detained, and taken to a camp for questioning. The Sri Lankan authorities accused the claimant of using his shop to support a war memorial monument, which was raising funds in honor of the LTTE and Tamil families killed during a massacre in May of 2009. The authorities accused him of providing support by donating money and other items from his shop. The authorities physically assaulted the claimant. The claimant acknowledged that he had sold 100 bags of school supplies to one of two people shown by Sri Lankan authorities to the claimant, but told them that he was unaware what it would be used for and that it was not given for free. The claimant was released on June 19, 2019, but was requested to return on July 1, 2019 and then July 20, 2019. After being detained and beaten again on July 20, 2019, the claimant was released on the same day and instructed to return to the camp every two weeks. This prompted the claimant to leave Sri Lanka. Since leaving Sri Lanka, the authorities in Sri Lanka have followed up with the claimant’s family inquiring about the claimant’s whereabouts on multiple occasions.

[9]       The claimant produced extensive documentation in support of his claim. This includes (i) multiple letters of support from the claimant’s family;[v] (ii) a letter of support from a neighboring shopkeeper;[vi] (iii) a letter of support from a Justice of Peace in Sri Lanka;[vii] (iv) documentation related to the claimant’s shop, including a certificate of registration and bank statements;[viii] and (v) documentation from his interactions with U.S. border authorities on his way to Canada.[ix]

[10]     These submissions help corroborate key events in the claimant’s narrative. There is no reason for the panel to cast doubt on the veracity of these submissions and as such the panel places significant weight on these submissions to support the claimant’s allegations and overall claim.

[11]     In specific, the claimant established on a balance of probabilities that Sri Lankan authorities detained and beat him on two occasions because they suspected him of having supported a war memorial monument and, by extension, the LTTE.


[12]     The objective documentary evidence generally indicates that individuals suspected of supporting LTTE and politically sensitive memorials are targeted by authorities, and that those who are detained face mistreatment. An Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Response to Information Request, citing other sources, notes that “Tamils, particularly in the North and East, reported that security forces “regularly monitored and harassed” community members, especially activists, journalists, and former or suspected former LTTE members.”[x] The source goes on to note that:

Australia’s DFAT states that Tamil community members reported monitoring by authorities of public gatherings and protests in the North and East, and “targeted surveillance and questioning of individuals and groups” (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 3.11). The same source reports that people connected to “politically-sensitive” war-related issues, such as “missing persons, land release and memorial events,” are “most likely” to be monitored (Australia 4 Nov. 2019, para. 3.11). Based on his visit to Sri Lanka from 18 to 26 July 2019, a UN Special Rapporteur indicated that he “frequently” received reports of “intimidation and surveillance” in relation to peaceful protests, particularly concerning memorial services for disappeared persons in the North and East (UN 5 May 2020, para. 52). The same source provides the example of soldiers destroying and removing banners and decorations at a memorial ceremony held on 18 May 2019 by the Ampara branch of the Families of the Disappeared Organization at the Thrikovil Manikka Pillayar temple, as well as threatening to arrest and detain demonstrators (UN 5 May 2020, para. 52).[xi]

[13]     The UK Home Office notes that there is a “shocking prevalence” of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.[xii]

[14]     The claimant also produced country conditions documents, which, among other things, generally indicate that the situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated for the Tamil minority since the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019.[xiii]

[15]     Based on the claimant’s testimony and the documentary evidence cited above, the panel finds that his fear of returning to Sri Lanka has an objective basis. The claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Sri Lanka.


[16]     The panel finds that the Sri Lankan government is the agent of persecution in this case. The country conditions cited above confirm that the state is in fact persecuting individuals like the claimant.

[17]     The panel therefore finds that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection in Sri Lanka.


[18]     The panel considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for the claimant. The agent of persecution is the Sri Lankan government. The documentary evidence cited above regarding the persecution faced by Tamils suspected of supporting politically sensitive memorials and the LTTE is not restricted to any one region of Sri Lanka, although exacerbated in the North and East of the country. The panel finds that there is a serious possibility of persecution for the claimant throughout Sri Lanka and therefore finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative.


[19]     Having considered all of the evidence, the panel finds that there is a serious possibility of persecution by Sri Lankan authorities if the claimant returns to Sri Lanka. The panel finds the claimant to be a Convention refugee and accepts his claim.

(signed) Suraj Balakrishnan

September 9, 2021

[i] Exhibits 2 and 5.

[ii] Exhibit 4.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v] Exhibit 5.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Id.

[x] Exhibit 3, NDP 31 May 2021, Item 13.1, LKA200298.E, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 17 August 2020.

[xi] Id.

[xii] Exhibit 3, NDP 31 May 2021, Item 4.11, Country Policy and Information Note. Sri Lanka: Tamil Separatism. Version 6.0. United Kingdom. Home Office. May 2020.

[xiii] Exhibits 6 and 7.