All Countries Barbados

2022 RLLR 30

Citation: 2022 RLLR 30
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 28, 2022
Panel: Nick Bower
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Tiffani Frederick
Country: Barbados
RPD Number: VC2-07212
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: These are my reasons for decision in the claims for protection of XXXX XXXX XXXX, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, citizens of Barbados who seek protection under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as Convention refugees under section 96 and as persons in need of protection under section 97(1).

[2]       I have heard your testimony and considered all of the evidence before me in this matter. As an initial matter, and I mean no disrespect by using your first names, but XXXX, you are the designated representative for XXXX XXXX XXXX who is still a minor.

[3]       I have considered and applied the chairperson’s guideline 4 regarding claims of gender-based persecution.

[4]       I specifically note as a starting point at paragraph 11.2.1, the guideline states that the Convention refugee ground of membership in a particular social group includes individuals fearing gender-based persecution.

[5]       At paragraph 4.3 and paragraph 4.4, the guideline states that Members should avoid the application of myths, stereotypes, and incorrect assumptions when making findings of fact and law and when making decisions. Specific examples of these incorrect myths and stereotypes include assumptions that survivors of gender-based violence can be expected to behave in a particular manner, including pursuing criminal complaints, that a person in an abusive relationship will seek to leave at the first opportunity, that a person who has experienced gender-based violence once in Canada will automatically seek out counselling or assistance in overcoming trauma, that well-educated women or women with a capacity for self-sufficiency are less likely to experience gender-based violence, and that a person who is a victim of gender-based violence will necessarily know before arriving in Canada that they possess basic human rights, that what has happened is an infringement of those rights, and that there may be avenues of recourse available to them.

[6]       At paragraph 8.2.1, the guideline talks about corroborating evidence and notes that survivors of gender-based violence may not have access to any corroborating evidence, any independent evidence. And that of course makes sense when one (1) considers that the allegations are of domestic violence, violence that happens in the home, in a very personal and private setting, that other people in the community are not likely to see or not — in any event, not likely to see the full extent of.

[7]       At paragraphs 11.3.1 through 11.3.3, the guidelines discuss persecution. The guideline states that an individual’s experience of gender-based violence may not necessarily amount to persecution in every case. It is — it needs to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. But discrimination amounts to persecution if the consequences are substantially prejudicial, such as the right to earn a livelihood, rights to private and family life, freedom of movement, or the right to an education, and that harassment that is sufficiently serious and occurs over a period of time of time such that the person’s physical or moral integrity is threatened may constitute persecution.

[8]       Having considered all of the evidence, I find that each of you is a Convention refugee under section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[9]       Very briefly, you allege that you have in Barbados been living in a household with long standing domestic violence, physical and emotional. The worst of the physical violence was directed against you, XXXX, but all three (3) of you did suffer threats of physical violence at the very least, as well as ongoing psychological, emotional violence. The agent of persecution, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, is still alive, well, still living in the family household in Barbados.

[10]     Turning to analysis, the first issue is identity. I have copies of your current passports in Exhibit 1 and copies of your birth certificates in Exhibit 5. I am satisfied that each of you is a citizen of Barbados. I have heard your testimony and reviewed all of the evidence.

[11]     I find that each of you is a credible witness, and I accept your testimony. There are no significant inconsistencies or omissions between your testimony and the other evidence before me. Your allegations are at the very least not inconsistent with objective evidence about current conditions in Barbados. You both testified in a spontaneous and forthright manner. You did not exaggerate or tailor your evidence.

[12]     You have provided some corroborating documents in Exhibit 5, but I accept your testimony. I find that you are credible witnesses and specifically accept your evidence that you have all survived a long standing violent domestic home at the hands of XXXX XXXX in Barbados. (Inaudible) that you have all suffered psychological harm, and that you have all been victims of — threats of, or actual physical violence from XXXX. Now, there is — I find XXXX, that you are not excluded from protection under article 1(f)(b) of the Convention. There is no evidence that — well, that XXXX XXXX XXXX father, XXXX, has consented to her coming to stay in Canada. It is potentially the crime of abduction under the Canadian criminal code, which does have a maximum penalty of 10 years, and so is presumed serious.

[13]     However, section 285 of the Canadian criminal code provides a full defense if the person who removes the child from the other parent does so to either protect the child from imminent harm, or is him or herself escaping a danger of imminent harm. As I will explain, I find that you were escaping a danger of imminent harm, as well as protecting XXXX XXXX XXXX from danger of imminent harm. You therefore have access to the full defence under section 285, and so there is no serious reason to consider that you would be excluded from protection because you might have committed a serious non-political crime outside Canada before arriving in Canada to seek protection.

[14]     There is a nexus between the persecution alleged and the particular social group of women in Barbados. The UN compilation at the NDP Exhibit 3, Tab 2.4, note that patriarchal attitudes in Barbados for example, prevent women from among other things, participating in governmental decision making. The country gender assessment at Tab 5.3 notes that very high levels of overall human development in Barbados have not been accompanied by a correlating and an expected gender equality, and that these patriarchal norms are used to justify violence against women who do not “know their place”, and support male control over women and girls’ bodies, including use of violence to get access to sex.

[15]     I find that women and girls in Barbados do constitute a particular social group for the purposes of the refugee Convention in section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Further, XXXX XXXX XXXX, I find that there is also a particular social group (inaudible) your case as the family member of a person who fears persecution under section 96. You testified that if you were to return a loan, you may face a harm or at the very least ongoing pressure from XXXX to get information from you about your mother and sister that — in addition to potentially pursuing you — to pursue you, he would also pursue you to get after your family members who allegedly face gender-based persecution, and so, there is this additional particular social group in your circumstances.

[16]     Turning to the well-founded fear of persecution, that has two (2) parts. A subjective fear and an objective basis. I have heard your testimony and I accept that each of you does have a subjective fear of persecution if you were to return to Barbados today. In the case of XXXX XXXX XXXX, I note guideline 3, dealing with child refugee claims — notes that due to a child’s age, the child might not be able to testify or give evidence themselves about specific issues in their claim, which can include whether or not they are afraid to return. But the Panel, the Division, as the deciding member, I can consider all of the evidence, and I can infer details of XXXX XXXX XXXX claim from all of the evidence provided. And based on the evidence, I can certainly infer, and I accept that she also has a subject subjective fear of persecution if she were to return to Barbados today.

[17]     Considering all of the evidence, I find that your subject fear is objectively well-founded, and that you would face a serious risk of persecution if you were to return to Barbados today. Specifically, based on the evidence I have, I am satisfied that each of you would face at the very least, a serious risk of threats of physical violence, physical violence, and ongoing psychological violence causing psychological injury from XXXX, if you were to return.

[18]     As the guideline notes, persecution can and should be considered to include threats to a person’s moral integrity. And the law is quite clear that psychological health is also health. Psychological harm is harm, just the same as physical harm. Threats of violence that cause psychological harm is as persecutory as threats and violence that cause physical harm. And it is analytically wrong to require an element of actual physical violence or harm if a person faces a serious risk of psychological harm. The evidence is that the physical violence has mostly — largely been directed against you, XXXX. But there have been threats of physical violence, and there has been, I find, on the evidence demonstrated, psychological harm to all three (3) of you.

[19]     XXXX XXXX XXXX, you and XXXX XXXX XXXX have both sought out psychological treatment for the harm you have suffered. XXXX, you have looked into the availability of psychological treatment. XXXX XXXX XXXX in particular has — you have seen — shown very concerning signs of serious psychological harm that has led her to cut herself to inflect physical harm, just to demonstrate the depth of her psychological harm. If you were to return, there is a serious risk that XXXX would continue to act as he has done in the past. That he would continue to threaten you, that he would continue to manipulate you, that he would continue to use violence or threats of violence to control you, down to the level of what you can spend for groceries, something that is not even in your control. And that these threats of violence and violence would cumulatively, seriously threaten your physical and your moral integrity, would threaten your physical and your psychological health, and amounts to persecution.

[20]     This is consistent with the objective evidence about conditions in Barbados. At Tab 2.2, the report by Freedom House notes that violence against women in Barbados remains widespread, and laws addressing domestic violence are not well enforced. At Tab 5.11, the report notes that rates of domestic violence have increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced families to remain at home.

[21]     At Tab 5.3, the report notes that Barbados has a very high rate of gender violence with 27 percent of women and girls, or more than one (1) in four (4) reporting having experienced domestic violence. At Exhibit 6, there is an article from April 2022, where the chief magistrate correctly observes that domestic violence is harmful to everyone in the family. The chief magistrate notes that — states that domestic violence around children creates war zones in households, that unleash terrorists on society. It is a recognition that domestic violence has serious ongoing long-lasting harm, whether or not that instant of physical violence is directed against that individual or someone else in the family. I will come back to that article in a moment.

[22]     If you were to return, Barbados is a very small country with a very small population. It is about 400 square kilometres, and has a population of just over 300,000 people. You would either be living with the agent of persecution again, or in the same community. There is simply not enough physical space or population to not be either living with him or living near him. If you are living with him, there is a serious risk that the same circumstances are simply going to continue, and you are going to continue to experience physical violence and psychological violence. If you were to live independently, out — away from him in another household, that would be — there would be a serious risk that would be seen as a loss of his face in the community.

[23]     The reports note that — sorry, let me just find it — that — lethal violence against women. Murders of women in Barbados have increased. They did dip for one (1) year, but have remained well, far too high. And so, simply removing yourself from the same household does not reduce the risk of ongoing violence, and maybe an inciting incident, a triggering event that can lead to an increase in violence. If you were to return based on all of the evidence, I am satisfied that each of you would face a serious — persecution.

[24]     XXXX XXXX XXXX, you are an adult. If you were to return, then it is possible that you could live outside the same home as the agent of persecution. However, you have testified, and I accept that there is a serious risk. He would still continue to pursue you either to continue to exert his control over you, as he is the man of the house, and you are therefore one (1) of (inaudible)  “his women in the house to control.” But there is also a serious risk he would continue to pursue you to force you to give information about your mother, his wife, about your sister, his child daughter. And there is a serious risk given his use of violence in the home in the past, in a domestic situation in the past, that he could threaten and could use physical violence to compel you to either give him the information he wants, or to hurt you to — through hurting you, hurt your mother and sister.

[25]     I find that you do not have a viable internal flight alternative. As noted by the CIA World Fact Book, Tab 1.3, Barbados is a very small nation. It is geographically small. It has got a small population. You have testified and I accept that everyone knows everyone. There is nowhere where you could relocate to, where you would not be able to find you easily. And of course, if he is able to find you, he would be able to travel to and reach you. It all comes down to his motivation, and there is no reason that — to believe that he will not be as motivated to continue the persecution as he was in the past. There is no reason to believe that his behaviour has changed or will change.

[26]     I also note at Tab 5.3, the report on the country gender assessment for Barbados, that occupations — work in Barbados is highly differentiated by sex, and the — this differentiation has only been growing since 1996. That women make up the majority of workers who earn less than 500 dollars a week, and men make up the majority in all income brackets, earning more than 500 dollars a week. Women are statistically at the very bottom of the pay scale. Female headed households the reports states, poverty is concentrated among female headed households in Barbados.

[27]     The CIA World Fact Book notes that unemployment overall is 10 percent as of 2017. That is one (1) in 10 people. But for youths, it is as high as 26 percent overall, and more than 20 percent for young women. That is more than one (1) in five (5). Given the evidence about work, about earnings, there is a serious risk that if you were to return and relocate, you would face poverty, because of your gender as independent women. I therefore find you do not have a viable internal flight alternative.

[28]     Finally, I find that you would not receive adequate state protection. The US DOS report and other reports do note that Barbados has legally made steps to increase the laws protecting women from violence. However, considering all of the evidence, I find that these not — these are not practically enforced. Going back to that article I referred to, where the chief magistrate correctly notes that domestic violence is hurting everyone. He then goes on to say that the police are “too much involved” in domestic matters.

[29]     You have provided another article in Exhibit 6, from January 2020, about a recent domestic violence case where the report quotes the president of the National Organization for Women, stating that domestic violence is not taken seriously by the courts, and particularly by the police. At Tab 2.4, the UN compilation, it states in regards to domestic violence and court response to domestic — “the committee was however, concerned about the insufficient resources allocated to the justice system, the overly burdened procedural rules, considerable backlogs and lengthy delays in processing cases, the limited capacity of the police and courts to address complaints from women about gender-based violence in a gender sensitive manner, and the absence of a specialized court on family laws.”

[30]     At Tab 5.5, report by the research directorate states that police are slow and reluctant to respond to calls about domestic violence, and their response is by and large, inadequate. That is also consistent with the objective evidence about patriarchal norms in Barbados and society. The police are members of society and are presumed reasonably, to share those same opinions in the absence of evidence of effective training to combat these patriarchal attitudes. There are reports that there have been some attempts to provide this evidence, but the police are still reluctant to respond to domestic violence and see it as a domestic matter.

[31]     Despite the laws in place or coming soon, I find that the police and the courts do not provide a practical adequate response to issues of domestic violence. That the police response is slow, it is inadequate, the court system is slow and inadequate, and this not only leads to a tolerance of domestic violence, a impunity for offenders, it is also consistent with and reinforces the patriarchal beliefs that say that men have control. That men are allowed to use violence to exert that control, and that women should know their place, because the police and the courts are not acting in a way to say anything different. For all of these reasons, I find that each of you is a Convention refugee under section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and I accept your claims for protection.

——————–REASONS CONCLUDED ——————–