Citation: 2022 RLLR 4
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 8, 2022
Panel: Vanessa Fairey
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ramin Joubin
RPD Number: VC1-06888
Associated RPD Number(s): VC1-06913
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A
 MEMBER: So, this is the decision.
 These are the reasons for the decision in the claim for XXXX XXXX, who is the principal claimant, and her stepson XXXX XXXX, the associate claimant, who are citizens of Iran and who are seeking refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I have heard these claims jointly pursuant to rule 55 of the RPD Rules.
 The full allegations are set out in the claimants’ Basis of Claim forms found at Exhibit 2. However, I will summarize the allegations briefly. The principal claimant is a 52-year-old woman who has converted to Christianity. She was born into a Muslim family in Tehran. Her father was strict with Islam and imposed many of the rules on her. However, her mother was more liberal. The principal claimant was injured in a car accident when she was about 30 and was in a coma. An elderly Christian neighbour who is friends with her mother provided prayer and spiritual support for the principal claimant’s recovery. Once she had recovered from the coma, she began to think of Christianity as benevolent. Unfortunately, her neighbour passed away.
 The principal claimant then came to Canada in XXXX 2019 with her stepson, the associate claimant, where she continued to explore the Christian faith. She began to attend XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and gained knowledge from the church leaders. She states that she has formally converted in XXXX 2020. She also has a sister in Canada, who accidentally advised another Muslim sister in Iran of the principal claimant’s conversion. Her sister in Iran then informed her work, and she was fired. The principal claimant alleges that her conversion to Christianity places her at risk of persecution in Iran from both the state and her family. She believes that she is in danger if she returns to Iran.
 The associate claimant is a 19-year-old man and the stepson of the principal claimant. He came to Canada in order to study. He feels that Shia Islam is superstitious and restrictive. He disagrees with practices that he feels are outdated and has been exploring Christianity also. At the time of his initial claim, he did not yet consider himself to identify as a Christian but stated that his beliefs and lifestyle are un-Islamic and that he has renounced Islam. In addition to being considered an apostate, he also fears an imputed religious conversion, as his stepmother has converted formally to Christianity. Moreover, his allegations note that he fears conscription to the military in Iran.
 I find that the claimants are Convention refugees in accordance with section 96 of the Act.
 I find that the claimants’ national identities as nationals of Iran is established through their testimony and the supporting documentation filed, including their passports found at Exhibit 1.
 I find that the persecution feared by the principal claimant has a nexus to the Convention by reason of religion, as she has converted to Christianity. For the associate claimant, I also find there is a nexus to the Convention by way of religion, as his renunciation of Islam is considered apostasy.
 The determinative issue in this claim is the credibility of the allegations. Pursuant to the Maldonado principle, it is presumed that sworn testimony is true, unless there is sufficient reason to doubt its truthfulness. In these cases, I find there to be no such reasons. Overall, the principal and associate claimants testified with authenticity and without embellishment at the hearing, and I find them both to be credible. Further, there was sufficient corroborative documents provided which supported the testimony and which I will discuss. I therefore accept what they have alleged in support of their claims. And specifically, I accept that the principal claimant is a Christian convert who subjectively fears persecution in Iran and that the associate claimant has also renounced Islam and is in the process of converting to Christianity and therefore subjectively fears persecution, as he is considered apostate.
 The principal claimant was asked about her conversion to Christianity and baptism. She stated that she attended classes for about 10 months in addition to regular services before being baptized. Her family in Canada also attended her baptism ceremony. And she testified that after, when her sister in Canada sent photos of another family birthday event, she also accidentally attached the baptism photos. This caused an issue with the principal claimant’s family in Iran, and they have not had positive relations since then. On the other hand, both she and the associate claimant testified that her husband and the father of the associate claimant, while remaining Muslim, does not take issue with her conversion. Additionally, her job had allowed her leave of absence, but once the year was up, they contacted her family in Iran to inquire about her return and were told she would not return and that she had converted to Christianity. She was then fired. She also spoke briefly about being interested in Christianity while in Iran but not having the option to attend church there, as it was not allowed. She articulated that she chose Christianity because she wanted peace of mind and tranquility, and due to the interpretation of Islam in Iran that women are not considered equal to men. She stated that she tried different churches, but that her church has Farsi interpretation available, and therefore, she is able to understand the content.
 The associate claimant also expressed that since coming to Canada and attending church with his stepmother, he now identifies as Christian, and he has plans to be baptized in the next few weeks. He testified that he is attending classes on Tuesdays to learn about Christianity and that he also attends services on Sundays. He was able to demonstrate knowledge of Christianity beyond a basic understanding, speaking about the mechanics of a service in particular. The associate claimant was asked to expand on what he disagrees with in Islam, and he stated that he does not like the constant bloodshed and war that he feels exists in the religion. He noted that there is a lot of sadness and limitations in the Islamic traditions in Iran.
 There is persuasive documentary evidence submitted in the claims, which are found at Exhibits 4 and 5. Regarding her conversion to Christianity, the principal claimant submits both confirmation and baptism certificates from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in North Vancouver. She also has a support letter on file from the priest of the church, and copies of text and email communications between herself and other church leaders and attendees, as well as a copy of her dismissal letter from her employer in Iran. There is also some limited documentary evidence regarding the associate claimant. He is also named in the support letter from the church, and there is some evidence of email communication between the church and himself.
 Overall, I find that both claimants are credible and have established a subjective fear of persecution in Iran.
 To establish one’s status as a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection, claimants must show that there is a serious possibility that they would be persecuted or, on a balance of probabilities, be subjected to a risk to life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, or a danger of torture, if removed to their country of origin, in these claims, Iran. I find that the claimants have met that burden. The risk that the claimants allege is corroborated by the objective country conditions evidence provided in the National Documentation Package before me at Exhibit 3. Several documents speak to this. Found at 2.1 is the US Department of State report, which describes Iran as an authoritarian, theocratic republic with a governmental human rights record that is extremely poor. Islam is the official state religion. The law prohibits Muslim citizens from changing or renouncing their religion. The country conditions evidence found in Exhibit 3 at Tabs 12.11, 12.14, and 12.15 clearly indicates that religious freedom is virtually nonexistent in Iran, with the government engaged in systematic and ongoing egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and execution. Regarding their religious beliefs or absence of belief, their rejection of Islam may be understood as both a religious and, by extension, even political opinion that is against the theocratic regime in Iran.
 The principal claimant has fully converted to Christianity, which puts her at risk of persecution as apostate from Islam. The associate claimant has been involved with the church in Canada, and given his relationship to his stepmother, who has now fully converted, a perception that he is a convert to Christianity could also be imputed to him. Either way, he rejects Islam, which is considered apostasy and subject to grievous punishment in Iran. I find on a balance of probabilities that the claimants have established a well-founded fear of persecution in Iran with a nexus to the Convention ground of religion. They fear the state and the principal claimant’s family, both. Apostasy is punishable by death, according to Iranian law.
State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative, IFA
 In these claims, the claimants’ religion as converts to Christianity, or in the process of converting to Christianity, and rejection of Islam is grounds of persecution. There is more than a mere possibility of persecution for both the claimants if they were to return to Iran. I find that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimants to seek the protection of the state. As the state is feared as an agent of persecution, the claimants would not be able to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities of Iran, and the presumption of state protection has been rebutted.
 Furthermore, as the claimants fear persecution at the hands of the state, they would not be able to relocate to escape the risks that they face, and there is no viable internal flight alternative. I find there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout the entire country of Iran.
 Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that the claimants are Convention refugees under section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Accordingly, I accept their claims.
——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———