Citation: 2020 RLLR 180
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 10, 2020
Panel: D. Willard
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Sherif Ashamalla
RPD Number: TB9-22509
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-22529, TB9-22563, TB9-22564, TB9-22565
ATIP Number: A-2020-00518
ATIP Pages: 001001-001012
REASONS FOR DECISION
 This is a decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claim for refugee protection put forth by Mr. XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (the principal claimant), Ms. XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (the female claimant), XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (the minor claimants) under sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).1 The panel has carefully and mindfully considered the claims in their entirety. The principal claimant was appointed as the Designated Representative for the minor claimants.
 This is a split decision. The panel finds that the claimants who are citizens of Egypt only (that is, all of the claimants except for XXXX) are persons in need of protection as specified under section 97(1) of the IRPA. The panel finds that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX as a citizen of the U.S., is neither a Convention refugee nor a person in need of protection. The reasons are as follows.
 In reaching its determination, the panel has taken into consideration the level of education and sophistication of the principal claimant and female claimant, including the stresses in the hearing room. The panel has further taken into consideration Chairperson’s Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender Related Persecution.2
 The details of the claimants’ allegations are found in the Basis of Claim (BOC) form narrative.3 In summary, the principal claimant indicates that his family was living in Kuwait for several years. He alleges that because his family was perceived to have lots of money, a neighbour named XXXX XXXX XXXX demanded money from him. Due to the pressure, he agreed to give him some money because of his association with thugs.
 In June of 2019, when the principal claimant refused to lend more money to him, Mr. XXXX became very aggressive, verbally insulted and assaulted the claimant. The principal claimant was threatened and the contents of his apartment were destroyed. He sought assistance from the police and moved but the police took no action. Days later, his son XXXX was kidnapped for ransom by Mr. XXXX who called demanding money for his release or else he would be killed. The principal claimant rushed to the police and filed a report. Once he did, a thug associated with Mr. XXXX called to tell the principal claimant that reporting to the police was a mistake and fruitless. The claimant inferred that this was likely because they had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. The police took no action so the claimant and his father in-law and friends raised money to pay the ransom. They paid the money to the kidnappers. The claimant’s son continues to suffer psychologically from the experience.
 The claimants did not know where else to go because his own family do not agree with his decision not to perform FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) on his daughter. He also adds in his amended narrative that his spouse is fearful of living in Egypt because she will be forced to wear the hijab which she does not wish to do and that she will be subjected to sexual harassment and abuse on the streets. The claimants stayed at a hotel and then flew to Kuwait. Upon arrival there, he was informed that his employer would be terminating his work contract. As a result, he no longer had legal status in Kuwait. The claimant made arrangements and he and his family travelled to the U.S. on XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. They did not file claims there due to information they received. Rather, they chose to enter Canada on XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX.
 Since their arrival, the principal claimant’s father-in-law has been pursued and threatened for money despite his father-in-law’s relocation to Mansoura. His father-in-law moved to Cairo in XXXX of 2019 and kept a low-profile there until he was able to leave Egypt and move to Kuwait. The claimants seek protection in Canada.
 The claimants state that they are citizens of Egypt. They provided their Egyptian passports at the time when they filed their claims. Copies are found in Exhibit 1. The panel notes that a U.S. passport was presented for XXXX XXXX XXXX. The claimants indicate that he is a citizen of the U.S. The panel accepts, on a balance of probabilities, their alleged names, dates of birth and citizenships.
 The panel found the claimants to be generally credible with respect to the allegations related to the principal claimant. Their testimony was spontaneous, fluid, internally consistent and consistent with the documentary evidence they filed. They provided a number of documents to corroborate their allegations, all of which are found in Exhibit 5. These include: police reports, medical reports, attestations, a photograph and proof of receipt of their documents. Accordingly, the panel determines that their allegations are credible, on a balance of probabilities.
 The principal claimant states that he fears a neighbour named XXXX XXXX XXXX who is associated with thugs and the Muslim Brotherhood. He fears this individual because he refused to continue to lend him money which he states then led to his son’s kidnapping for ransom. Upon being informed that this individual has connections with the police, the principal claimant believes that he is well-connected through the Muslim Brotherhood. The panel determines that this falls within the ambit of section 97 of IRPA.
 The principal claimant states that he feared relocating to his own family’s location because they would want him to perform FGM on his daughter. The panel finds that this fear falls within the ambit of section 96 of the IRPA.
 In his amended BOC narrative,4 the principal claimant states that his spouse only covers her hair with a hijab when she is in Egypt because of her family’s strict expectations and customs and also because she would be subjected to sexual harassment or abuse on the street if she did not wear a hijab. The panel finds that this also falls within the ambit of section 96 of the IRPA.
Subjective Fear – Failure to Claim in the U.S.
 The claimants arrived in the U.S. with valid U.S. visas on XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. They remained in the U.S. for 4 days before arriving in Canada on XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. They indicate that they had heard that the U.S. did not look upon Muslims favourably and separated children from their parents.
 The panel notes that the claimants (apart from XXXX who is a U.S. citizen) were in possession of valid visas during their 4 days in the U.S. The panel notes they relied on information they heard to determine that filing their claims in Canada was preferable. The panel finds that they did not remain in the U.S. for a lengthy period, were in possession of valid visas at the time, and intended to come to Canada. Accordingly, the panel determines that their actions are insufficient to impugn their subjective fear.
Claim based on FGM (Daughter)
 The principal claimant indicates that he cannot relocate to live with his own family in their village because his own family would forcefully impose FGM on his daughter.
Documentary evidence and Assessment of FGM in Egypt
 The claimants submitted evidence on FGM in Egypt.5 Similar to an excerpt in the claimant’s own disclosure,6 the NDP refers to FGM being illegal in Egypt, that actual criminal convictions have been ordered for some practitioners of FGM in Egypt, to a prison sentence and fines ordered, the law has increased prison sentences, a fatwa has been issued declaring FGM un-Islamic, and the practice of FGM is in decline in Egypt, although it is reported that a majority of women still have traditional FGM done in Egypt.7 This evidence does not support the allegation that the minor claimant, in the particular circumstances of the claimants where both parents do not want FGM performed, would be forced to undergo FGM in Egypt, if they did not want it.
 In reaching this determination, the panel has been mindful of the principal claimant’s beliefs that his extended family (aunts and uncles) would impose it. He refers to an incident in 1999 (a year after his father passed away), more than 20 years ago, when his paternal and maternal uncles took his sisters and forced FGM on them. He indicated that both of his parents have now passed away, but he believes his uncles and aunts would insist upon it for his daughter. The panel notes that this incident in 1999 after his father died was considered in light of all of the evidence, the panel finds that the circumstances have vastly changed since that time given the change in the law in 2008 and its implementation. Accordingly, the panel does not find the fear of FGM to be a credible or well-founded one.
Claim Based on Gender in Egypt (Female Claimant and Daughter)
 The female claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, states in the amended BOC at Exhibit 7 that she is fearful for herself and her daughter, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, because of verbal assaults, harassment and mistreatment that she received and fears her daughter would receive in Egypt. The documents in the National Documentation Package for Egypt (NDP)8 mention discrimination, harassment and violence against women in Egypt.
 Regarding violence or attacks against women outside of domestic or family violence, in the amended narrative found in Exhibit 7, the principal claimant added reference to his spouse not wishing to wear the hijab in Egypt and fearing sexual harassment on the street if she chooses not to wear one in Egypt.9 The panel notes that wearing a hijab is not mandatory by operation of law in Egypt. The harassment the female claimant states she has been exposed to in Egypt occurred when she wore a hijab. She stated that she feels forced to wear one because of harassment. She stated she does not wish for her daughter to wear a hijab either.
 According to the United Kingdom Home Officer report in the NDP:10
8.1.1 The 2017 DFAT report observed that:
‘Sexual harassment is a frequent occurrence for women across the socioeconomic spectrum. A 2013 UN Women study found 99.3 per cent of Egyptian women had experienced sexual harassment, while 91.5 percent reported experiencing unwanted physical contact. Sexual harassment was found to be particularly prevalent during mass street celebrations such as religious feasts, or political demonstrations. The study found that most sexually assaulted women would not report the crime to the police or tell their families.’45
8.1.2 The USSD reported sexual harassment as a serious problem and that ‘Media and NGOs reported sexual harassment by police was also a problem, and the potential for further harassment further discouraged women from filing complaints’.46
 According to another NDP source:
[… ]a study conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights that “showed that a woman’s dress had no effect on whether she was molested; in fact, the majority of victims were veiled.11
 The same source further states:
According to a poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in which 336 gender experts in 21 Arab League states as well as Syria were surveyed, Egypt is “the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman” (Thomson Reuters Foundation 12 Nov. 2013). The report states that sexual harassment contributed to this ranking (ibid.).
The same source quotes a representative from HarassMap as saying that women “regularly ‘have to fight with the police to actually make the report, in the street, and at the police station'” (ibid.).
 A New York Times article submitted by the claimants via their counsel states:12
A 2017 survey by two groups that promote gender equality, Promundo and UN Women, found that sexual harassment is rampant on Egyptian streets, particularly in urban areas. More than 60 percent of Egyptian men reported in the survey that they had sexually harassed a woman or girl on the street, and more than three-quarters of male respondents cited a woman’ s “provocative” dress as a legitimate reason for harassment. And in a 2013 study by UN Women, 99.3 percent of Egyptian women and girls in a survey said they had been the victims of some kind of sexual harassment, from unwanted advances to rape. Ms. Orman [a human rights lawyer in Cairo] said the proliferation of security cameras in Cairo may have helped discourage some sexual assaults in the city, but the problem remains common at festivals and other large public gatherings. She said the civil and legal authorities across Egyptian society still need to take the issue more seriously.
 The panel notes that the female claimant’s personal circumstances are highly relevant in the panel’s assessment as to what she has experienced or would experience upon return to Egypt as well as her daughter. The female claimant testified to being mistreated in public, even while wearing a hijab. She testified that there is a culture or tradition of viewing women without a hijab as “sluts”. She stated that while there is no law requiring her to wear a hijab, she wears one because she believes it would be worse for her if she did not. She testified to “always” receiving verbal assaults. When asked to clarify, she referred to women wearing a tight hijab refusing to talk to her. When asked about approaching the police, she stated that if she did, they would tell her that she is the cause of the harassment. She stated that there is no protection nor safe place to reside.
 The panel finds the female claimant’s statements to be credible and trustworthy and consistent with the objective documentary evidence. However, the panel finds that verbal accosting by women wearing tight hijabs does not amount to persecution, even on a cumulative basis. The female claimant neither testified to being the subject of sexual harassment in the past, nor did she refer to having experienced it in the past in her BOC narrative amendment at Exhibit 7. Given the documentary evidence cited above which states that the absence or presence of a hijab is not determinative in how a woman is treated, the panel finds that while she may feel she cannot wear a hijab, she has not established that she has been persecuted nor would be on this basis in Egypt. Accordingly, the panel finds that she has not established that she or her daughter would be persecuted on this particular basis in Egypt.
Claim based on Section 97 Fear- Well-Foundedness, State Protection and IFA
Well-Foundedness and State Protection
 The principal claimant testified credibly regarding the threats, kidnapping and maltreatment he and his family experienced at the hands of their neighbour who has police connections and who he believes may have Muslim Brotherhood connections. He explained that this individual and his associates have marked him and his spouse’s family as having money because of the time they have spent in Kuwait. He explained that his son was kidnapped for ransom and continues to suffer psychologically as a result. He explained that his father-in-law relocated to Mansoura City, a distance away from Belkas City and was found there by the agent of persecution. Furthermore, he explained that the agent of persecution was informed by an insider at the police station when the claimant filed a police report in Belkas. The agent of persecution persisted in seeking the family and then his father-in-law and the claimant believes it is due to their anger because the claimant reported them to the police.
 The principal claimant testified that he approached the police on more than one occasion and they did not assist him. Rather, they informed the persecutor that the claimant had filed a report. Taking into consideration the objective evidence on rampant corruption in Egypt,13 combined with the claimant’s own efforts to seek state protection, the panel finds that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection in his particular circumstances.
Internal Flight Alternative
 The test for assessing an IFA is two-pronged and is set out in the Federal Court of Appeal decision in Rasaratnam:14
- The Board must be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that there is no serious possibility of the claimant being persecuted in the part of the country to which it finds an IFA exists and/or the claimant would not be personally subject to a risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment or danger, believed on substantial grounds to exist, of torture in the IFA.
- Moreover, the conditions in the part of the country considered to be an IFA must be such that it would not be unreasonable in all the circumstances, including those particular to the claim, for him to seek refuge there.15
 Both prongs must be satisfied to find that a claimant has an IFA. Once the issue of IFA has been raised and the potential IFAs have been identified, the burden of proof rests with a claimant to show that they do not have an IFA. The finding of an IFA must be based on an analysis of the region proposed, taking account of a claimant’s personal circumstances. An IFA must be realistic and attainable. The claimant cannot be expected to encounter great physical danger or undergo undue hardship in travelling there and staying there.
 The Australian Government confirms that the Egyptian constitution guarantees freedom of movement, residence and emigration and there is no legal impediment to internal movement.16 The UK Home Office Country Information and Guidance report for Egypt states that where the person fears non-state agents internal relocation is likely to be reasonable but “will depend on the nature and origin of the threat, as well as the person’s circumstances and profile.17
 The panel proposed the cities of Cairo, Port Said and Alexandria as potential IFAs. Taking into consideration the particular circumstances of the claimants at hand, the panel determines that they have met the burden of demonstrating that there is no viable internal flight alternative for them in Egypt. In the case at hand, the agent of persecution was both motivated and able to successfully locate the claimant, abduct his son and locate his father-in-law and continue threatening him beyond Belkas City. The agent of persecution was also able to learn that the claimants had filed police reports.
 Based on the actions of the agent of persecution and their determination to seek out the claimant and his family in retribution for approaching the police, being able to reach and locate members of the family in different regions, the panel determines that the claimants have, in their particular circumstances, demonstrated that they cannot relocate to other parts of Egypt safely. Therefore, the panel finds that a viable IFA is not present for them in Egypt.
Claim of U.S. Minor
 The claimants indicated that they have no section 96 or section 97(1) claim against the U.S. on behalf of the minor child, XXXX XXXX XXXX. Accordingly, the panel determines that as he is a citizen of the United States, he is neither a Convention refugee nor a person in need of protection.
 Having considered all of the evidence, the panel determines that there is not a serious possibility that the claimants would be persecuted in Egypt as per section 96 of the IRPA.
 The panel does find, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimants XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, would be personally subjected to a danger of torture or face a risk to life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment in their country as per section 97. Their claims are accepted.
 The panel further finds that XXXX XXXX XXXX, a citizen of the U.S., is neither a Convention refugee nor a person in need of protection. His claim is rejected.
(signed) D. WILLARD
July 10, 2020
1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 (as amended).
2 Guidelines issued by the Chairperson pursuant to Section 65(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Effective date: November 13, 1996.
3 Exhibits 2 and 7.
4 Exhibit 7, Claimant’s Documents, Amended Narrative, Lines 74-80.
5 Exhibit 6, Claimants’ Disclosure, Country Condition Documents, pages 1-5 and 8-21.
6 Exhibit 6, Claimant’s Disclosure, The Daily Mail “Girl 12, dies after genital mutilation in Egypt as her parents and the doctor are arrested over illegal practice” at page 1W.
7 National Documentation Package, Egypt, 30 September 2019, tab 5.10: Country Policy and Information Note. Egypt: Women. Version 2.0. United Kingdom. Home Office. June 2019.
8 Exhibit 3, NDP for Egypt, version September 30, 2019.
9 Exhibit 7, Claimant’s Documents, Amended BOC Narrative, lines 74-80.
10 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, Egypt, 30 September 2019, tab 5.10: Country Policy and Information Note. Egypt: Women. Version 2.0. United Kingdom. Home Office. June 2019.
11 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, Egypt, 30 September 2019, tab 5.1: Treatment of women who do not conform to Muslim practices and traditions, including wearing a veil (head covering), in rural and urban areas; state protection available to victims of mistreatment (June 2013-November 2014). Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 26 November 2014. EGY105005.E.
12 Exhibit 6, New York Times, “Video Showing Sexual Assault by Mob in Egypt Draws Outrage”, page 6.
13 Exhibit 7, Claimant’s Documents, pages 22-35 and Exhibit 3, NDP for Egypt version September 30, 2019, Item 2.1 United States Department of State Report for 2018 on Egypt.
14 Rasaratnam v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), 1992 1 FC 706.
15 Thirunavukkarasu v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), 1994 1 FC 589.
16 Exhibit 3, Archive – National Documentation Package, Egypt, 30 September 2019, tab 1.4: DFAT Country Information Report: Egypt. Australia. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 17 June 2019, page 44, section 5.32.
17 National Documentation Package, Egypt, 30 September 2019, tab 1.5: Country Information and Guidance. Egypt: Background information, including actors of protection and internal relocation. Version 2.0. United Kingdom. Home Office. July 2017.