All Countries Iraq

2022 RLLR 10

Citation: 2022 RLLR 10
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 3, 2022
Panel: Bonita Small
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Rami Alsaqqa
Country: Iraq
RPD Number: VC1-08806
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of XXXX XXXX XXXX, who claims to be and is a citizen of Iraq and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       The allegations are as follows. The claimant fears persecution at the hands of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX in Iraq. The claimant was a recent graduate from XXXX XXXX and was the XXXX XXXX, and working in the XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, spelt XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. During his tenure there, he noted that there were fraudulent activities happening. He reported these fraudulent activities to his management, because he noted that there were fictitious contractors named in the invoices. After advising management about his concerns, the claimant was informed that his employment was terminated.

[3]       After that, the claimant went back to his manager and told him that he believed that he was being terminated because of his reporting of these fraudulent activities. He warned his manager that he would report the names, and the fact that he was terminated to the Iraq Commission of Integrity, which was tasked with preventing and investigating corruption at all levels of the Iraqi government. Shortly after the claimant’s termination from his position, he was picked up by members who he believes to have been part of this XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. He was kidnapped, tortured, and beaten physically, and harmed, for three (3) days in total. The belief that these individuals who kidnapped him were part of this XXXX XXXX comes from knowledge with the — which the claimant did not have at the time of the reporting. Apparently, that he learned, that his manager and others within that department were members of this XXXX. And that the report of fraudulent activities would be considered perilous to their corrupt activities and being able to continue with them.

[4]       The claimant’s father had some influence within the government, and he confronted the claimant’s former manager about the claimant’s whereabouts when he discovered that he was missing. The father was told that his son was being detained by them. And that the reason was that his son “talked too much”. The manager then told him, the father, that the only way to resolve this was to provide a guarantee that the father and claimant would not report the matter to the Integrity Commission. Furthermore, the manager demanded a ransom from the father for the continued safety of the claimant and the father. The father managed to pay the ransom demanded, and in consultation with the claimant, it was decided that the claimant should leave Iraq and go to Lebanon.

[5]       The claimant stayed in Lebanon from 2016 until his arrival in Canada in 2019. He started out in Lebanon with a short-term visitor’s visa, and then converted it to a one (1) year student visa once he enrolled in university. While living in Lebanon, the claimant met and married a young woman. She was not interested in having a religious ceremony and filing the necessary legal documents of marriage until she found out she was pregnant. For the interest of the child, both the claimant and the former spouse made attempts to legalize their marriage. However, the legalization process was fraught with administrative errors, particularly regarding proper dates. The claimant and his spouse at the time tried to fix the errors, but while doing so, (inaudible) to the intervene and the claimant came to Canada for refuge. The claimant and his spouse ended up to divorcing.

[6]       The claimant said he was never able to attach any resident status to this marriage. He did go through the motions of getting the paperwork corrected but did so only to legalize his daughter. In order to keep this visa active in Lebanon, the claimant had to travel to Iraq, and he did so twice. The first time he went back, he said that he was in hiding. Five (5) days after getting to Iraq, his father received a threatening text, saying that the agents of persecution knew that the claimant was back in Iraq. The second time the claimant went back to Iraq, he decided on his own to seek justice, and he went to the Integrity Commission, where he told them his story about the corruption, the violence, and the termination of his position.

[7] On his way back to Lebanon, he was in a taxi interact, and it was hit by another car from behind. He was taken to hospital for treatment, and he believes that it was the persons who had kidnapped him, and who were no doubt his former managers that were at the root of this intentional hit to his vehicle. Shortly after that, the father received a letter under his door to the effect that the agents of harms knew that the claimant had broken the deal and that — for silence. And that death would be his destiny.

[8]       The claimant has also filed additional information from his parents about events that have happened to them since the claimant has been in Canada. There have been new — it is okay — there have been new threats which the parents had not shared due to their concerns about putting the claimant under pressure. The claimant believes that he has been targeted due to his whistleblowing, and is at risk of further violence, detention, and threats, and possibly assassination, if he returns to Iraq. My determination is that I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee. And my analysis is as follows.

[9]       First of all, I am satisfied that the claimant has established his identity on the balance the probabilities by providing his passport. In terms of country to reference and exclusion, at the outset of the hearing, I advised the claimant that I would be exploring his status in Lebanon, particularly as it pertains to his marriage. I am satisfied that his visitor visa and student visa did not constitute any engagement of these issues due to the temporary and limited nature of them. However, it was not clear to me why the claimant’s marriage did not attract more permanent status. In reviewing the NDP, there is little if any mentioned about how to acquire citizenship in Lebanon.

[10]     I advised the claimant (inaudible) that I had done a Wikipedia search and it was indicated in that, that while non-Lebanese women can attain citizenship through marriage, the reverse was not the case for men. The claimant confirmed this information. He testified that he was told that the only way he could attach any residency to his spouse — his former spouse, was for a period of three (3) years, subject to renewal. He did try to do so initially when they — when he learned that they were having a child. However, due to the administrative wrangling he endured during this process, it took a long time. And by the time he was ready to file, he and his spouse had decided to divorce.

[11]     The claimant has filed his divorce certificate, which appears authentic on its face, since the claimant is no longer married and no longer has ties to the spouse, I find that the issues of country and reference and exclusions have not been engaged here. I am satisfied that the only country of reference for the purposes of this analysis is Iraq.

[12]     In terms of inclusion, and credibility, a claimant is presumed to tell the truth unless there is evidence to the contrary. In this case, I found the claimant to be articulate, and I find that there was consistency between his narrative and his testimony. In addition, the claimant has filed substantial corroborative evidence to support his claim. Most importantly, he has filed a statement from his father, which aligns with the narrative of the claimant. I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of this statement. Additionally, the claimant has provided statements from witnesses who had knowledge of the claimant’s circumstances back in XXXX 2016. All of which align with the claimant’s allegations.

[13]     And finally, the claimant has provided a notice and an investigation has been started by the Integrity Commission into the allegations made by the claimant. This in my view is solid evidence to support that the claimant had a story to tell about what he believed to be fraudulent activity. I am satisfied based on those documents and on the plethora of documents provided, and on the credible testimony that the claimant’s allegations are true. That he quite rightfully as a legal consultant tried to report fraudulent activity, but due to the corruption at the higher levels in his department, that he was faced with violence and significant negative repercussions for disclosing these matters to persons that he initially trusted, but then had reason to learn that he should not have trusted them. I am satisfied that despite the claimant’s reavailment to Iraq, that this has not negated his subjective fears based on the circumstances surrounding these redevelopments.

[14]     In terms of a nexus, I considered whether or not the claimant has a nexus, and I find that he does. His actions were perceived by the agents of persecution to be against the interests of the state, and it was the state that employed the claimant. I find this meets the ground for the claimant perceived as being acting against the state, thereby it being an imputed political opinion. I have therefore analyzed this claim under section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[15]     In terms of the objective evidence, I have looked at NDP 10.4, which specifically talks about this particular XXXX that the claimant believes has been — which the claimant believes is the one that targeted him. In particular, I notice that this particular document talks about how the XXXX ask the victims to pay exorbitant ransoms, and that the victims despite paying these exorbitant ransoms, remains unknown whether their bodies are found dumped on the streets, or on the outskirts of cities, or near riverbanks. In some cases, even after the relatives pay ransoms. All of this is consistent with how the claimant and his father were treated.

[16]     I have also considered the claimant’s subjective evidence provided in Exhibit 8. The articles talked about the power of the XXXX in Iraq, and how they are for example, killing protesters with impunity. In my view, the objective evidence and the subjective evidence all support that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution were he to have returned to Iraq.

[17]     In terms of state protection, the claimant worked for a government department, and the agents of persecution were part of that apparatus, Since the state is the agent of persecution, the claimant would not be able to access protection in an adequate manner. The same applies to an internal flight alternative. Since the state is the agent persecution, I find that he would not be safe anywhere in his country. And this is borne out by the violence he endured when he did try to reavail. Clearly, he was being surveyed and pursued.

[18]     So, my conclusion is that I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee and I therefore approve his claim.