Citation: 2019 RLLR 56
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 8, 2019
Panel: D. Marcovitch
Counsel for the claimant(s): Jonathan W. Jurmain
RPD Number: TB8-04624
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-04707, TB8-04708, TB8-04745, TB8-21591,TB8-21612, TB8-21613, TB8-21548
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000108-000113
 MEMBER: This is an oral decision in the claims for refugee protection submitted by [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], and [XXX].
 I’ve considered your testimony and all the evidence in this case and I’m ready to render my decision orally.
 The claims were joined pursuant to Rule 55 of the RPD rules. [XXX] was the designated representative for the minor claimants [XXX] … [XXX] and [XXX] and [XXX] was the designated representative for [XXX] and [XXX] pursuant to Section 167(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 Your claims for protection have been made pursuant to Sections 96 and Sections 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 The claimants allege that they face a threat to their lives or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they were to return to Columbia.
 The claimant [XXX] was a [XXX] in Columbia and was actively involved in helping poor claimants … sorry, poor citizens who had been affected by the various active conflicts that have been plaguing Columbia.
 [XXX]’s immediate family in this claim includes [XXX] his wife and his two children [XXX] and [XXX].
 [XXX] came to the attention of the Clan del Golfo when he attempted to enter a poor neighbour in Cucuta North Santander with the intention of meeting a social leader and setting up forms where he could meet citizens and try to help them with land restitution or other [XXX].
 Before you could enter the neighbourhood [XXX] was stopped and investigated by four armed men who claimed to be part of a neighbour … to be part of neighbourhood security and members of the Clan del Golfo. He was eventually free to leave but the men had called their commander and advised that they would be calling him later so that he could do them a favour.
 [XXX] went to the police and filed a denunciation.
 In [XXX] 2017 [XXX] received a call from the Clan del Golfo telling him to return to Cucuta within 10 days in order to discuss a business proposal. [XXX] was advised that the Clan de Golfo knew where he was living in [XXX] and knew many other details about him and his family. Nonetheless, [XXX] did not travel to Cucuta for the meeting.
 After this [XXX] was approached and threatened on several more occasions.
 By [XXX] 2017 the Clan de Golfo had stopped trying to gain his cooperation and instead demanded [XXX] pesos every three months in order for him to continue living. This demand was presented in a threat letter from the Autodefensas Gaistanistas de Columbia and was on their letterhead. The letter also declared XXXX and his family military objectives.
 [XXX] went to the police, the Attorney General, and the Ombudsman seeking assistance for the continued threats and demands. He had also hired private security to protect himself while working.
 Despite being a [XXX] and being familiar with State protection mechanisms, [XXX] was unable to get meaningful assistance from any of the previously mentioned government bodies.
 As a result, [XXX] and his family left Columbia in [XXX] 2018.
 The claimant [XXX] and his immediate family which consists of his wife [XXX] and his children [XXX] and [XXX] claim refugee protection based on being threatened by the same Clan de Golfo members that were seeking out his brother-in-law [XXX].
 [XXX] alleges that he was approached on the street in Bogota on [XXX], 2018 by people claiming to be members of the Clan de Golfo and that they were seeking the whereabouts of [XXX]. [XXX] did not provide them with the information as he not seen [XXX] in several months and was unsure of his location. The Clan de Golfo offered [XXX](ph) … sorry, offered [XXX] financial reward if he had helped them.
 About a week later [XXX] filed a report with the Attorney General about the incident even though he had been turned away from the police twice when he attempted to seek their assistance. [XXX] managed to get a protection order from the Attorney General and provided it to the police. The police dropped by his home and provided three telephone numbers for him to call if he noticed anyone following him.
 The Clan de Golfo contacted [XXX] by phone on [XXX] and then again on [XXX], 2018 to see if he had the requested information. [XXX] reported both of these calls to the fiscalia.
 Eventually, [XXX] received a letter from the Clan de Golfo which declared him and his family military objectives. Along with the letter were also photographs of [XXX]’s family members outside their home and at different locations within Bogota.
 As a result, [XXX] and his family fled Bogota to the United States where they then irregularly crossed into Canada. It was always their intention to come to Canada but could not do directly as their temporary resident visa application had been denied on the basis that [XXX] and his family had already applied for refugee protection.
 [XXX] and his family entered Canada on [XXX], 2018.
 I find that all the claimants are persons in need of protection pursuant to Section 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as the risk was occasioned as a result of criminality and extortion and not … and not on the basis of [XXX] political opinion.
 I find that the claimant’s personal identities as nationals of Columbia has been established, on a balance of probabilities, by certified copies of each claimant’s passports which have been seized by Canadian Immigration officials.
 With respect to credibility, I find that the claimants were all credible witnesses.
 I asked extensive questions of [XXX] and he was able to answer my questions clearly and with detail.
 I was concerned about the placement of the fiscalia emblem on the reverse side of his fiscalia reports but in the absence of evidence that such a practice is abnormal, I do not take a negative inference against it.
 I had a few credibility concerns with [XXX]’s testimony as it related to an omission regarding his activities on the day following his first Clan de Golfo contact wherein he went to the United States Embassy in Bogota, but I do not have any clear basis to impugn the core of his allegations on this point alone.
 The claimants also submitted credible documentary evidence in support of their claims, including support letters from politicians, security guards, fiscalia reports, Ombudsman reports, copies of the AGC threat letters, and a text threat message which corroborates their testimony.
 I therefore accept what the claimants have alleged in support of their claims.
 I also note that the objective documentation confirms that Clan de Golfo is an alternative name for the Autodefensas Gaistanistas de Columbia also known as the AGC, and I therefore accept that when the claimants indicate they were threatened by the Clan de Golfo, but the threat letter is from the AGC, that it is the same organization.
 Now, I would normally have considered that the claimants could have had an internal flight alternative in the City of Tunja in Boyaca Department, but because the claimants have been declared military objectives I removed this options as an active issue.
 Documents on file indicate that when a person is made a military objective it means that their life, physical integrity, and freedom are endangered and that this threat extends to the family.
 The National Documentation Package response to information request at Item 7.2(1) suggests that when someone is declared a military objective means they had been marked as someone who is to be killed. I therefore found it odd that [XXX]’s threat letter from the AGC demands money at the same time as declaring him a military objective. This does not directly fit without being declared a military objective plays out according to the NDP document.
 However, on a balance of probabilities, I find that you were, in fact, declared military targets. Further, given that you made several denunciations and sought State protection, I find, on a balance of probabilities, that the risk to [XXX] and his family would have increased.
 Likewise, [XXX]’s family having also been declared military targets and in conjunction with the photographs taken of him and his family, that the threat letter declaring them military target is credible.
 For the following reasons I find that State protection would not be forthcoming for the claimants.
 The objective documentation notes that there’s been some improvement in State response to bacterium groups but the efforts have been mainly confined to a peace with the ELN.
 The State has also managed to see a large demobilization of FARC. However, despite this groups such as the Clan de Golfo which have moved into the territory of the demobilized FARC and have become the largest actrime(ph) group in the country. The Clan de Golfo continues to intimidate opponents and commit other crimes.
 Further, there are reports of complicity and collaboration between bacterium groups and security forces. Investigation of murders by such groups continues at a slow pace and there continues to be issues of impunity for security forces involved in human rights abuses.
 The United Nations High Commission on Refugees reports that witness protection in Columbia continues to be inadequate. They further note that the ability of the government to provide protection is limited due to capacity issues and issues with corruption.
 Further, as a [XXX] who works with disadvantaged citizens, [XXX]’s profile may fall within those profiles considered in the UNHCR refugee eligibility guidelines.
 Further, as the claimants provided evidence that they approached the authorities on a number of occasions but … but no meaningful assistance was forthcoming, I find that adequate State protection was not available to them in the past and would not be in the future.
 Based on the foregoing I find, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimants would not receive adequate State protection in Columbia.
 As previously noted with respect to NDP Item 7.2(1), with the claimants having been declared military objectives, the objective evidence suggests that bacterium groups will travel to anywhere in the country in order to find those who have been declared military objectives. As such, an internal flight alternative will not be available to these clients, so excuse me, claimants.
 I therefore conclude that the claimants are Convention refugees. Excuse me. I therefore conclude that the claimants are persons in need of protection and I therefore accept their claims. Good luck.
 COUNSEL: Thank you.
 CLAIMANT: Thank you so much.
 MEMBER: You’re welcome.
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