All Countries Ethiopia

2022 RLLR 6

Citation: 2022 RLLR 6
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 6, 2022
Panel: Kay Scorer
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Paul Vandervennen
Country: Ethiopia
RPD Number: VC1-07071
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01960
ATIP Pages: N/A


[1]       MEMBER: I’ve considered your testimony and all of the other evidence before me, and I’m ready provide you with my decision orally. This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division in the claim of XXXX XXXX XXXX, a citizen of Ethiopia who is claiming protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, also known as the Act. In coming to my decision, I’ve reviewed and applied the Chairperson’s Guideline on woman refugee claimants fearing gender-related persecution.


[2]       The claimant is an Amhara woman who fears political, ethnic, and gender-based persecution in Ethiopia. The claimant’s full allegations are contained in her Basis of Claim form and narrative in Exhibit 2 and are reproduced briefly below. In about XXXX 2017, the claimant and her daughter were traveling back to Ethiopia after visiting a relative in Germany. The claimant’s daughter was interrogated at the airport and the authorities demanded that she appear at the police station the following morning. The claimant’s daughter was arrested on about XXXX XXXX, 2017 and held for three days. While she was arrested, she was tortured, beaten, and raped. She was accused of supporting political dissidents abroad, meeting the opposition in the diaspora, and bringing funds into the country to help the opposition in Ethiopia. The claimant herself paid her daughter’s bail of about 10,000 birrs to facilitate her release, with the conditions that her daughter did not leave Addis Ababa, and that she report to the police on the first Monday of every month. Fearing for her life and safety, the claimant’s daughter fled Ethiopia on about XXXX XXXX, 2017 and came to Canada, where she has since been found to be a Convention refugee. The claimant herself assisted her daughter in getting out of Ethiopia. She did this even while she was afraid that doing so would cause repercussions.

[3]       After the claimant’s daughter fled Ethiopia, security agents went to the claimant’s house in about XXXX 2018 with a summons for her daughter. The police warned the claimant that if her daughter did not appear, they would detain the claimant in her place. At this time, the claimant’s daughter had already left the country. After this, the claimant herself continued to fear for her life and safety. She started to look for ways out of Ethiopia. She applied for a visitor’s visa to Canada but was denied. Her son, who was in the USA, invited her to that country on a visitor’s visa. That visa was approved in about XXXX 2019. From XXXX 2018 (sic) until about XXXX 2019, the claimant lived in hiding. She went from place to place, from relative to relative, trying to evade security forces. She did not live at her home. The claimant then paid a bribe to exit the airport safely. She had to do this because she was afraid that if she went through airport security, she would be arrested. She arrived in the USA in about XXXX 2019. The claimant remained in the USA from about XXXX XXXX, 2019 to XXXX XXXX, 2019. She did not claim protection because her son advised her to wait and see what would happen in Ethiopia. The claimant applied again for a Canadian visa while she was in the USA, and it was granted. The claimant traveled to Canada in XXXX 2019.

[4]       Since arriving in Canada, the claimant says the situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated. She fears returning to Ethiopia because she’s already been threatened by the authorities with arrest. This is exacerbated by her gender and by the fact that she is now in Canada with the daughter, and both have sought protection, despite the claimant and her daughter breaching the conditions of her daughter’s release. The claimant also fears persecution as an Amhara, and religious persecution as an orthodox Christian.


[5]       I find the claimant is a Convention refugee. I find claimant’s allegations have a nexus to the Convention grounds of political opinion, ethnicity, and gender. I’ve therefore assessed this claim under s. 96 of the Act.



[6]       I find the claimant has established her identity on a balance of probabilities by a copy of her Ethiopian passport, which can be found in Exhibit 1, and by her testimony.


[7]       The claimant benefits from the presumption that her allegations are true. In this case, I find no reason to doubt the truthfulness of the claimant. She testified in a spontaneous, forthcoming and compelling manner. She was detailed in her answers, and her answers were consistent with the narrative and the narrative of her daughter. The claimant also provided supporting documentation to corroborate her allegations, including a copy of her daughter’s Basis of Claim form and her refugee decision, a supporting letter from her church, a supporting letter from her cousin who she stayed with Ethiopia after she was threatened by the state, and her birth certificate, which identifies her as Amhara. I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of these documents and I assign them weight, as they corroborate central elements of the claimant’s allegations. I have considered whether the claimant’s failure to claim in the USA and her delay in claiming once in Canada negatively impact the credibility of her subjective fear, and I find they do not. The claimant was in the USA from about XXXX 2019 to about XXXX XXXX XXXX 2019. She was residing with her son, she did not claim protection. She’s then obtained a visa to come to Canada and arrived in Canada XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX 2019. She did not initiate her claim for protection in Canada until about XXXX 2020.

[8]       I note that the claimant is uneducated, and she’s lived much of her life as a homemaker. In the USA, she resided with her son. Her son speaks English and had been in the USA for six years. He told her not to claim protection until they knew what was going to happen in Ethiopia. The claimant accepted that her son was more knowledgeable than she on asylum claims in the USA, and she accepted his advice. Indeed, she relied on him for her livelihood in the USA. I find it reasonable on a balance of probabilities that she would take the advice of her son, even if that advice was perhaps not the best advice. Further, I find it reasonable that the claimant would continue with this advice even while in Canada. I note that the claimant was on valid status that did not expire until about April 2021. At the time that she made her claim, she was not under imminent, immediate threat of removal. Instead, as her son suggested, when she came to Canada, she continued to see what would happen in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the situation continued to deteriorate and eventually the claimant realized she needed to claim protection. She did this well before her status expired. I find the claimant’s explanations reasonable, and in light of her personal profile and circumstances, I make no negative inference against the claimant for her failure to claim in the USA or her delay in claiming in Canada. Ultimately, I find the claimant has established that her daughter is wanted by the authorities in Ethiopia, that the claimant herself was involved in bailing her daughter out and agreeing to the conditions of her release, and that the claimant herself assisted her daughter in fleeing the country despite the state demanding that she not do that.

[9]       I find that the claimant has also established that she fears returning to Ethiopia because of her ethnicity as an Amhara person, and because of her religion. I find that she was also directly threatened by the state, and that the state advised her that if her daughter did not appear, they would detain her in her daughter’s place.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution and Risk of Harm

[10]     The objective evidence supports the claimant’s fears of returning to Ethiopia and indicates that, “Security forces used excessive and sometimes lethal force and carried out extra judicial executions. Hundreds of people were killed, and property destroyed in ethnically motivated violence by armed groups and milia. Opposition members and journalists were subjected to arbitrary arrests and detention.” That can be found at NDP 2.2. This confirms there is recurrent unrest and violence along ethnic lines in Ethiopia. Ultimately, I find on a balance of probabilities that the NDP establishes that ethnic groups like the Amhara, which is the claimant’s ethnicity, face risk of persecution from state and non-state agents in Ethiopia. Specific reports of targeted violence against Amhara people can be found throughout the NDP, for example, at 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, to name a few. At NDP Item 2.2, it states that, “Inter-communal violence intensified in Ethiopia. In November, at least 54 people from the Amhara ethnic group in Gawa Qanqa village were killed in an attack by suspected members of the Oromo Liberation army (sic). In the same month, an armed conflict erupted in the Tigray region, and scores of ethnic Amhara residents, likely hundreds, were massacred in Mai Kadra.” There were numerous reports in Item 2.2 of the NDP of Amhara people being targeted and attacked, including in September 2020 by the Benishangul People’s Liberation Front (sic), where 45 people were killed and thousands displaced, in October 2020, where 31 Amhara residents from Guraferda were killed by armed assailants, and in November 2020, when local militias and youth stabbed and hacked to death scores and likely hundreds of ethnic Amhara residents in the western part of the Tigray region.” According to NDP 2.3, the security and human rights situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated. The landscape “Was defined by ongoing abuses by government security forces, attacks on civilians by armed groups, deadly violence along communal and ethnic lines, and a political crisis.” According to NDP Item 1.8, the government is struggling to contain the disconnect from Ethiopia’s myriad ethnic groups, fighting the federal government and each other for greater influence and resources. Outbreaks of ethnic violence have displaced around 2.4 million people according to the UN in Ethiopia.

[11]     I find the claimant, on a balance (sic), faces a serious possibility of forward-facing risk in Ethiopia on the basis of her ethnicity as Amhara. I’ve also considered the claimant’s risk as the known mother of a fugitive of the state in Ethiopia. The claimant’s daughter was arrested on XXXX 2017 after being accused of meeting with political opposition outside of Ethiopia. The claimant assisted in facilitating her daughter’s release from detention, including paying her bail. Both the claimant and her daughter have fled Ethiopia against the demands of the authorities. The authorities directly threatened the claimant that they would detain her if her daughter was not brought for the summons. I find, on a balance, that the claimant, like her daughter, is perceived as a political opponent or political dissident in Ethiopia. According to NDP 4.16, “Individuals who are known dissidents are at a high risk of detention,” on return to Ethiopia. According to Item 4.21, the state continues to direct violence at actual and imputed government opponents, including through continued detention at government re-education camps, where detainees endure brainwashing. Ultimately, I find that the claimant is viewed on a balance of probabilities as a political opponent and dissident in Ethiopia, and that these conditions where these people face risk of persecution apply to the claimant. I find the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution based on her imputed political opinion.

[12]     Lastly, I note that the claimant alleges she faces persecution as a result of her religion, being orthodox Christian. According to NDP 1.5, attacks on places of worship have increased since 2018. “According to the Amhara Professionals Union, a US-based advocacy group, 30 churches belonging primarily to Ethiopian orthodox church were attacked between July 2018 and September 2019. These attacks reportedly left hundred people dead, including priests and parishers (sic).” This is echoed in NDP 2.2. However, while I recognize that there are reports of orthodox Christians facing risk in Ethiopia, I find the claimant has established her claim based on her ethnicity and political opinion, and therefore, I am making no finding on whether orthodox Christians face risk of persecution in Ethiopia. Therefore, on a balance of probabilities, I find the claimant has establishes that she faces a serious risk of possibility of persecution in Ethiopia based on her ethnicity as Amhara and based on her imputed political opinion given she’s perceived, on a balance, by the state as a political dissident.

State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative

[13]     Given that the state agents are the agents of persecution in this case, I find that there is no operationally effective state protection available to the claimant in her circumstances. Further, given that the state has the capacity to find the claimant throughout Ethiopia, and namely that the claimant would have to go through the state to even enter Ethiopia, I find that it is neither safe nor objectively reasonable in all of the circumstances, including those particular to the claimant, for her to relocate anywhere throughout Ethiopia. Accordingly, I find there is no viable IFA available to the claimant.

[14]     In conclusion, for the foregoing reasons, I find the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the Act, and I therefore accept her claim. Mister Interpreter, just a very brief overview, please. Ma’am, I wish you all the best, and I will take us off the record. Everyone have a wonderful day.