Categories
All Countries India

2019 RLLR 73

Citation: 2019 RLLR 73
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 13, 2019
Panel: I. Colle
Counsel for the claimant(s): Peter J. Wuebbolt
Country: India
RPD Number: TB9-05340
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000214-000220


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So, I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case and I’m ready to render my decision, orally.

[2]       I would like to add that in the event that written reasons are issued, a written form of these reasons may be edited for spelling, syntax and grammar and references to the applicable case law and documentary evidence may also be included. I also may add additional footnotes and correct any inadvertent errors.

[3]       Now, the claimant is, Mr. [XXX] and he is a 40-year-old citizen of India and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to subsections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[4]       I considered this claim mainly under Section 96, since the claimant claimed persecution based on political opinion or imputed political opinion.

[5]       Now, for the reasons that will follow, I find that you are a Convention refugee, for the following reasons:

[6]       He is a resident citizen of lndia who lives in Punjab State.

[7]       He is a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal, SAD, political party.

[8]       Now, there are two Akali Dal parties in Punjab. The claimant said he was associated with the [XXX] wing, which is led by [XXX].

[9]       He said he was beaten and harassed by members of the Congress Party and also by their links with the police. He said he was detained and tortured and was asked to appear at the police station every month for an indefinite period.

[10]     The claimant is or was a [XXX] in India.

[11]     He was a member of the [XXX] wing since [XXX] 2011. He used to assist his cousin in arranging pilgrimage trips for community members in Yatra in Pakistan and he would also take part in organizing Party meetings with the help of community members.

[12]     In [XXX] 2017, a Congress Party area leader noticed him and asked him to join the Party. He refused to join.

[13]     In [XXX] 2017, he was beaten by three Congress Party members when he was convincing a group of people to attend his Party meetings.

[14]     He went to a doctor for treatment. He went to the police to report the incident but instead of helping him, the police threatened him with detention for making false accusations against Congress Party members and ordered him to leave the station.

[15]     In [XXX] 2017, he was able to convince four community members to join the Party. One of them had previously supported the Congress Party and he was also a cousin of the Congress Party leader.

[16]     In [XXX] 2017, he received a threatening phone call from a Congress Party member and on [XXX], 2018, he was picked up from home by the police and detained without charges. He was interrogated and beaten by the police and told that he had links with Sikh militants.

[17]     They questioned him about his involvement in the arrangement of [XXX] trips for pilgrims to Pakistan and the addresses of people that had assisted him in trips in the past and the people he knew in Pakistan. An officer warned that he could be threatened indefinitely on suspicion of espionage.

[18]     His uncle came and after some negotiations, was able to get him out of detention on [XXX], 2018 after paying a bribe.

[19]     However, the officer still told him he had to report every month indefinitely and he warned him not to be involved in any political activity and if he did not show up at the station, he would be tracked down and picked up from anywhere in the country and brought to the station where they would torture him to death.

[20]     Upon his release, he needed medical attention.

[21]     About a week later, the Congress leader, again, threatened him that it is a matter of time before he is beaten to death or permanently detained by authorities.

[22]     He started to make plans, had to collect substantial funds in order to leave the country. He relocated to the state of Himachal Pradesh. It’s to the east of Punjab. So, he stayed there and still though, would come back to the state of Punjab to report monthly and when he would come back, he alleged that he would be slapped, manhandled and humiliated by the authorities.

[23]     His friend was able to find an agent who asked for 20 lakh rupees to make overseas travel arrangements. He made visa applications for himself and his spouse, without their daughters and he arrived in Canada on [XXX], 2018, accompanied by his spouse, who soon returned to India.

[24]     He was in status. He had status for about six months and was able to contact present Counsel and started the process of making a refugee claim before his status expired in [XXX] 2018.

[25]     He approached Immigration with his Counsel in [XXX]. The forms were finally filled out in [XXX] 2019.

[26]     Now, the claimant also alleged that he suffered severe mistreatment, both physically- he underwent beatings and harsh treatment in prison and has continued to do follow-up medical visits and he said that, because of the continuing stress and tension, also because of the mistreatment, eventually contributed to him suffering a [XXX] in 2019, for which he still being treated today.

[27]     Now, the claimant, regarding identity, he said he had lost his passport and he provided a police, Toronto Police Service report, part of Exhibit 5, that he reported the loss of his passport but I note in his Exhibit 1, there is a certified true copy of his Indian identity card from the government, issued by the government of India, with his name, [XXX] and it has his address in Punjab, [XXX] in Punjab.

[28]     The claimant spoke fluently in Punjabi. He had other identity documents. In Exhibit 5, people attesting to his identity, including a letter from a spiritual centre, from relatives. There is also copies of his work in India as a [XXX].

[29]     So, on a balance of probabilities, I conclude that the claimant is who he says he is and that he is from the Punjab.

[30]     I found the claimant to be a very credible witness and, therefore, believe what he has alleged in support of his claim. I agree with Counsel that he did not exaggerate or embellish his claim. He testified in a straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in his testimony or contradictions between his testimony and the other evidence before me.

[31]     During the hearing, I asked for additional details and he credibly is, I find, on a balance of probabilities, a member Shiromani Akali Dal Party, the XXXX wing. He was able to identify the leader. He was able to identify members of the provincial assembly, both from the Akali Dal Party and from the, what he called, his agents of persecution, from the BJP Party.

[32]     He gave vivid details about his detention in jail at the police station in XXXX, how he was beaten, humiliated, sometimes the officers went out of their way to humiliate him and to beat him and he was kept, basically, in a state of terror for every time he would report every month and while the claimant did relocate to, as I said, the neighbouring state of, Himachal Pradesh and we’ll go into that later as we discuss internal flight alternative.

[33]     So, I find that he was in effect, he was – I would not – his profile was not as a high-level Shiromani Akali Dal member, nor a low level. I think. I think he was a mid-level member who was active in his party and had good knowledge of the political situation in Punjab and credibly came to the attention of Congress Party members.

[34]     Now, in this case, given that the – in this case, in that the police were agents of persecution, I find that state protection would not be reasonably forthcoming.

[35]     Now, I find that the claimant has made a claim under Section 96, political opinion and before we get into that and the issue of IFA, I’m going to just note that he had many corroborating documents in his Exhibit 5 that attest to his political involvement and the history of abuse that he alleged.

[36]     Now, before we get into documents, I should also mention, I did consider the issue of delay in making a claim but I note the claimant came with a visa, was never out of status and made arrangements with Counsel to make his refugee claim before that status had expired.

[37]     So, in any event, the delay in making a claim cannot be a sole reason for denying a claim and in this regard, I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt.

[38]     In Exhibit 5, we have, attesting to his religious background, the letter from the [XXX] in Toronto.

[39]     I found a letter also from his Party in Exhibit 5 at page 2, which, on a balance of probabilities, I find genuine and it attests to his persecution he suffered in Punjab.

[40]     There is supporting affidavits from family and Party members throughout. Again, I find no inconsistencies in those.

[41]     There is plenty of documentation that he was a [XXX]. He did explain that there was a Canadian visitor’s visa. He didn’t know what the agent filled out, claimed he worked for the local government. But there’s documents in Exhibit 5 that attest to his work in the agricultural industry as a [XXX].

[42]     There is also – and I was able to examine the originals – again, I could find no discrepancy, internal discrepancies in these documents. There is page 13 document from the [XXX] Clinic. There is another one from a hospital in – [XXX] Hospital. There is also his continuing treatment in Toronto in Etobicoke.

[43]     It states on page 15 from, Dr. [XXX], that he is, he has a [XXX] history and he has attended to his office on six times.

[44]     There is some more comprehensive consultation report on the [XXX] situation, starting at page 16. It’s a consultation report that was done on [XXX], 2019. It talks about his [XXX] history, the impairment he has undergone, as well.

[45]     There is also many photos of his political and agricultural activities as a [XXX] in Punjab.

[46]     So, on a balance of probabilities, I find that he was a [XXX] and he was involved with the Party.

[47]     Now, internal flight alternative, I considered whether there was a viable internal flight alternative for you. I identified a number of areas in India, including in the neighbouring state at Himachal Pradesh.

[48]     Also, I mentioned cities such as, Mumbai and Calcutta, Delhi, also as, Hyderabad. Now, I should note that in regards to Himachal Pradesh, the ruling party of the state is his alleged agent of persecution, the Indian National Congress and I considered the other – his argument that he could be traced by his residency card or that he could be traced by the police when he’d have to rent, for example, when he’d have to do some requirements and procedures for tenant registration, that he could be traced that way.

[49]     However, I conclude that in regards to the first prong of the test, there is no serious possibility of persecution based on a review of the documentary evidence that, for example, in the National Documentation Package, Item 14.10, the Home Office Report on Internal Relocation, at page 6, states that:

“Tracking and surveillance systems appear to be limited and there is no centralized registration system in place to enable police to check the whereabouts of inhabitants in their own state or in other states or union territories and that each state and union territory has responsibility for its own separate police force and effectiveness and conduct varies across states.”

[50]     So, I find, based on a review – especially of Exhibit 14.10, there is no serious possibility of him being traced. It says that, India, for example, at page 10:

“India does not have a centralized registration system in place to enable police to check the whereabouts of inhabitants in their own state let alone in other states or union territories and that tracking and surveillance systems appear to be limited.”

[51]     However, I have to also consider the second prong of the test and that whether it be reasonable, in all the particular circumstances, for the claimant to relocate to those IFA identified areas, such as, Calcutta or Delhi. I did not consider Himachal Pradesh because it’s controlled by the Congress Party.

[52]     Now, the Federal Court has mandated the Board or the Refugee Division to consider other factors under Section 96 – I’m talking about- not 97 – 96 imputed political opinion or political opinion.

[53]     The Court has identified also, medical and psychological reports that provide objective evidence and that I’m mandated to consider whether it would be unduly harsh to expect a claimant to move to potential IFA areas.

[54]     Now, I considered the medical evidence that was in Exhibit 5 in finding that it would not be reasonable in all his particular circumstances, the claimant’s particular circumstances, to relocate to these IFA areas. The medical evidence demonstrates, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant suffered severe beatings and that it led to a series of events and, on a balance of probabilities, that led to his current medical state.

[55]     I see the claimant had to then report once to the police but at least reported five or six times. Every time he went, he underwent beatings. This had a cascading effect on his medical health.

[56]     I note that the claimant subsequently, in Canada, suffered from a [XXX] that incapacitated him to the point that at times, he could not even speak Punjabi, could not even write, although that’s recovered. He was severely restricted in the use of his right hand. It severely affected his ability to work, let alone as a [XXX], but let alone work and he has now, even in the hearing, had to wear a monitor around his neck that monitor’s his medical condition to detect any possible ongoing or future [XXX].

[57]     So, given the claimant’s very unique medical situation, that’s corroborated by at least three reports in Exhibit 5, I find, on a balance of probabilities, under Section 96 that the second prong of the test, that it would not be reasonable, in all his particular circumstances, to relocate to these IFA designated areas, given his medical condition as a [XXX] patient who is undergoing still, some after effects that could plausibly be linked to his mistreatment, harsh mistreatment, at the hands of Indian police in the state of Punjab, where he was detained, beaten and humiliated.

[58]     So, given in regards to this medical evidence, again, I’ve afforded the claimant the benefit of the doubt. I find that it is, on the balance of probabilities, that based on <inaudible> medical evidence, he did suffer severely and harshly because of mistreatment, both physically, psychologically and it affected his physiology as well and that, given his situation as a [XXX] patient right now and his inability to work now it would not be reasonable, in all his particular circumstances, to relocate to the IFA designated areas.

[59]     So, I said I examined all the originals. There was no discrepancies and I will return them now to Mr. [XXX].

[60]     So, in summary then, the claimant – I considered the claimant’s personal situation in deciding and determining the reasonableness of the IFA and I considered both his medical condition and his inability to earn a livelihood.

[61]     Therefore, I conclude that the claimant, Mr. [XXX], is a Convention refugee and, therefore, accept his claim.

[62]     Thank you very much.

[63]     The hearing is concluded.

——— REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Colombia

2019 RLLR 67

Citation: 2019 RLLR 67
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 7, 2019
Panel: K. Fainbloom
Counsel for the claimant(s): Dariusz Wroblewski
Country: Colombia
RPD Number: TB8-15262
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-15317, TB8-15261
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000189-000191


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So, these are the reasons for the positive determination of the refugee claims of [XXX], her husband [XXX] and their daughters [XXX].

[2]       The claimants are citizens of Colombia and they claim refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       Their allegations are contained in the narrative of the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim form. I’m going to briefly summary those allegations.

[4]       The, the principal claimant is a [XXX]. She describes how she and her family have been affected by the civil war in Colombia. Her brother was killed in [XXX] of 2003. She met the other adult claimant and they were married in 2004. Their daughter was born in 2008. She graduated in 2011 and began to work and at the same time, she began to be involved in community work. Assisting people who have been displaced by the civil war.

[5]       So on weekends, she would work with members of the community action boards, assisting people displaced by the conflict who had come to Medellin. All was going well until her, her work came to the attention of the AGC. And on [XXX], 2017 she received a note from this organization at her home, threatening her and telling her that she must quit her work or she would pay the consequences.

[6]       After, she reported this to the appropriate authorities including her employer. On [XXX], she was threatened by a man on a, on a motorcycle. And fearing further problems, they decided to leave Medellin and they relocated to Bogotá.

[7]       However, on [XXX] in Bogotá she was again a, a, attacked and followed. So they again relocated. The family now relocated to Cack-, Cúcuta. I have trouble with that one. However, there again there were problems. On [XXX], the principal claimant’s husband received a telephone call from someone searching, searching for them. And indicating that they knew where they were.

[8]       So, fearing for the lives the, the claimants fled Colombia and made their way to Canada and made refugee claims upon arriving.

[9]       Having considered the totality of the evidence before me, I find the claimants to be Convention refugees. find this is due to their political, an imput-, an imputed political opinion. On the part of the agents of persecution in terms of the volunteer work the principal claimant was doing. As noted in the threatening letter received, her actions are seen as a, a political view of the, the AGC’s lost.

[10]     With respect to the claimants’ identities as nationals of Colombia, it’s established by the documents on file which include copies of their passports.

[11]     As to the credibility of the allegations, I have no concerns. Firstly, the claimants provided their evidence in a credible detailed and what appeared to be spontaneous fashion.

[12]     The responses given in an oral testimony were con-, consistent with what’s been stated in written form. The claimants were appropriately emotional in describing some of the difficulties they faced in Colombia. Their allegations are consistent with country condition reports as to what might happen in Colombia if you come to the attention of the wrong people.

[13]     And I would note the presence of a number of fairly strong corroborative documents. This includes letters corroborating the principal claimant’s volunteer work. The letter from the lawyer who assisted in her work and who was aware of the threatening calls she had received. There’s a copy of the threatening letter itself. There are a number of supportive letters including from the principal claimant’s sister who provided her and her family refuge in, in [XXX] of 2018. There’s also a letter from their friend who provided the shelter for this family while they were in the other city. There’s a letter from, there’s a letter from the retired police officer who describes the assistance and suggestions he made to the family.

[14]     There are some references in the letters to searches that are ongoing in Colombia for people looking for the principal claimant. And there’s also documents indicating how the principal claimant suffered from [XXX] as a result of, of having these threats uttered against her. Documents showing the, the, the counselling she received in Colombia and the counselling she’s receiving in, in Canada as well. And finally, there are the police reports.

[15]     And so, in consideration of these documents, in consideration of the quality of the testimony, I find on the balance of probabilities the allegations to be true.

[16]     Given that I accept the allegations to be true, the co-, country condition documents before me indicate there’s an objective basis to their, claimants’ fear of returning to Colombia.

[17]     The documents note the existence of threats, of violence and incidents of violence against human right defenders, social leaders, educators and, and so on. People such as the claimant who are providing assistance to those who have been devastated by the civil conflict. According to a recent U.N. report, there were 163 verified killings of social leaders and human rights defenders since November 2016.

[18]     So, in light of the country condition documentation, I find there’s an objective basis for their fear of returning. Given that they’ve approached the author-, the appropriate authorities on a number of occasions and not received adequate protection, I find the claimants have rebutted the presumption of adequate state protection. And I also see that as a result of their movements in various parts of the countries and the fact that each time they moved, they were still targeted and harassed.

[19]     There is no viable internal flight alternative available to the claimants. And I find that if they relocated to any part of Colombia they would suffer a serious possibility of persecution.

[20]     So, for all these reasons, I conclude the claimants are Convention refugees. And I therefore accept their claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Bangladesh

2019 RLLR 65

Citation: 2019 RLLR 65
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: April 1, 2019
Panel: S. Shaw
Counsel for the claimant(s): Md Wazir Hossain
Country: Bangladesh
RPD Number: TB8-14360
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000180-000184


DECISION

[1]       Member: This is the decision of the refugee protection claim made by Mr. [XXX] file number TB8-14360.

[2]       At this point the panel has considered the claimant’s testimony and the other evidence in this case and is ready to render an oral decision.

[3]       The claimant is a citizen of Bangladesh and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[4]       After review the panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee for the following reasons. Specifically, the claimant has established a serious possibility of persecution based on a Convention ground of perceived political opinion. Regarding the other issues, specifically that of religion of a Convention ground, the panel did not consider that a key issue in this case.

[5]       The claimant’s allegations are set out in the Basis of Claim Form and the amendments and further supplemented by testimony and supporting documents.

[6]       In summary, the claimant has alleged that he fears persecution at the hands of the Awami League who is the current ruling party in Bangladesh and the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh herein called the JMB, specifically, because of his perceived political opinion of being anti-Awami League and because of religious beliefs which are different from the JMB Islamic extremist views.

[7]       The claimant alleges that he was targeted because of his social work and his business activities. The claimant is a self-employed entrepreneur and founded [XXX] organizations in Bangladesh.

[8]       He alleges that his fears began in [XXX] of 2015 when he was assaulted by Awami League members following a protest rally he organized against Awami League members which included Monir the mayor of Bhola City. Threats to the claimant continued until [XXX] of 2018.

[9]       The claimant alleges that he was assaulted in 2016 because he refused to pay money to fund the Awami League’s Independence Day activities.

[10]     The Awami League visited his home and threatened him to stop protesting against Monir and the Awami League and he was again attacked in [XXX] of 2016 which led to medical treatment at the local medical clinic.

[11]     In [XXX] of 2017 the Awami League and associates demanded that the claimant sell his land to the Awami League, and in [XXX] of 2018 the JMB visited the claimant’s office, ransacked it, and threatened him with death.

[12]     In [XXX] of 2018 two Islamic leaders also visited the claimant’s [XXX] and assaulted his spouse and two other female employees.

[13]     Further, in [XXX] of 2018 the claimant was again attacked by Awami League members causing him to be hospitalized for [XXX] days, and on [XXX], 2018 three armed Awami League members tried to abduct the claimant and his two daughters.

[14]     This incident prompted the claimant’s decision to flee Bangladesh and he left Bangladesh on [XXX], 2018, arriving in Canada [XXX], 2018, and claiming refugee protection soon after.

[15]     With regards to the analysis, the panel considered all of the evidence submitted and determined the following.

[16]     On a balance of probabilities, the claimant’s identity as a citizen of Bangladesh is established by testimony and also by a certified true photocopy of his passport and the claimant’s national identity card and his Bangladesh Road Transport Authority card. Both of which were submitted at the hearing as oral … as original documents at the hearing. The panel finds no reason to doubt the veracity of these documents.

[17]     With regard to credibility, testimony given under oath is presumed to be true unless there is a valid reason to doubt its truthfulness. As such, the panel has considered the claimant’s testimony as a whole and find the claimant to be a credible witness and believe what he has alleged relating to the issue of his perceived political opinion.

[18]     The panel finds that the claimant’s testimony was generally straightforward with regard to central elements of this case, and any inconsistencies, contradictions or omissions that were considered central to this claim was adequately explained.

[19]     Specifically, the panel asked why the claimant returned to Bangladesh prior to his final … fleeing from Bangladesh in [XXX] of 2015. Sorry, [XXX] of 2018, given that his fears began in [XXX] of 2015. The panel notes that the claimant had returned to Bangladesh prior to the [XXX] 2018 final reason when he left.

[20]     After review, the panel accepts that the claimant’s final crystalizing fear did not occur until [XXX] 2018 and [XXX] 2018, and those two incidents in 2018 were the incidents that crystalized his decision to finally leave Bangladesh in fear of his safety. The panel accept this as reasonable considering the circumstances.

[21]     In addition, as previously indicated with regards to the claimant’s allegations of fear of the JMB Islamic extremist group, the panel did not consider this the key issue of this claim since the claimant had not met or been threatened personally by JMB extremists, and since the JMB … or fear was related to the [XXX] that the claimant ran the panel notes that this [XXX] was closed since [XXX] of 2018 and as such, the … the panel is of the view that this group JMB did not pose a significant fear to this claimant and hence was not the key fear of this particular claim.

[22]     With regard to documentation relating to the perceived political opinion and the fear that arise from that, the claimant provided the following corroborating documents as evidence. Specifically, as noted in Exhibit 5 the claimant’s tax documents and business documents, as well as hospital and doctor’s letters in … and discharge summary report from the hospital. Both of which indicate and diagnose a physical assault that needed emergency attention and multiple deep lacerations that the claimant sustained.

[23]     The panel also considered the corroborating documents of a number of police complaints, general diaries, deposition, and court order, as well as an arrest warrant, and a court case filed against the claimant’s perpetrators.

[24]     Therefore, after review, the panel is satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant’s allegations are credible and further that the claimant has established a subjective fear of persecution if returned to Bangladesh.

[25]     With regards to the objective basis of this claim, the panel finds that this claimant’s allegations are corroborated by the country conditions as noted in the National Documentation Package and counsel’s disclosure package.

[26]     The panel accepts that there is an objective basis for this claim, specifically as noted in the NDP Items 1.1(0), 4.1(3), 2.1, and 1.5. These country condition documents confirm that the Awami League is currently by far the largest political force in Bangladesh after recent elections and that the Awami League has consolidated its power which has led international and domestic critics to accuse the Awami League of being authoritarian and heavy handed in its approach to any opposition or anti-government individuals that it is … that it views against the government.

[27]     Further, the NDP shows that Bangladesh authorities increasingly use harsh measures including abuse and harassment, and that the Awami League Government is increasingly using imprisonment detention without trial and show trials to silence opposition.

[28]     With regards to State protection, the panel finds that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of adequate State protection with clear and convincing evidence that adequate State protection is not available to this claimant and is not reasonably forthcoming in this case.

[29]     The panel notes the claimant’s testimony that he has attempted to file complaints in the past, specifically in [XXX] of 2016 which would … sorry. Specifically, in [XXX] of 2018 but it was again refused, and also the panel notes that there is country conditions that specifically speak to the anti­ corruption efforts of the international community has been weakened because of the Awami League’s politicizing of law enforcement agencies and the judicial process.

[30]     In addition, Item 2.3 of the NDP also indicates that there’s a concern which is on the increase about the growing interference by government in the judiciary process, and that Item 1.1(7) indicates from the United States State Department report which indicates that public has a deep distrust of police and security services which has deterred many Bangladeshis from approaching police for assistance or reporting criminal incidents.

[31]     With regards to internal flight alternative, the panel has also considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exits for this claimant. After review, the panel is satisfied that there’s no viable internal flight alternative because this claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Bangladesh considering that some of the agents of persecution are the Awami League and its members which are integrally linked to the ruling government.

[32]     The panel notes that the claimant and his family did attempt to internally relocate by going and staying at their parent’s home, as in the claimant’s in-laws home in [XXX](sic) District which a [XXX] kilometres away from the claimant’s home in Dhaka. However, the claimant was found one week later by the Awami League, and also the claimant again relocated to the [XXX] Region in [XXX] of 2018, but again was found by the Awami League, and the Gibot(ph) League.

[33]     After review and based on the profile of the agents of persecution and their affiliation with the ruling government who has control throughout the country of Bangladesh, the panel finds that this claimant would face persecution throughout the country of Bangladesh. Therefore, the panel is satisfied that there’s no viable internal flight alternative available to this claimant.

[34]     In conclusion based on the totality of the evidence and the previously mentioned analysis the panel finds that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution based on the perceived political opinion. Therefore, this panel concludes that this claimant is a Convention refugee as defined by Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As such, the panel accepts this claim for refugee protection in Canada.

[35]     That is the end of the decision and its reasons.

[36]     This hearing is now concluded. That brings me to the end of the hearing. We are now off record. Thank you all for attending. Interpreter and everyone, thank you. Thank you.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Bangladesh

2019 RLLR 64

Citation: 2019 RLLR 64
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 1, 2019
Panel: S. Shaw
Counsel for the claimant(s): Kieran Verboven
Country: Bangladesh
RPD Number: TB8-12509
RPD Associated Number(s): TB8-12520, TB8-12546, TB8-12547
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000174-000179


[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision of the refugee protection claim made by the Principal Claimant, [XXX], File Number TB8-12509; as well as the Associate Claimant [XXX], TB8-12520; and the two Minor Claimants, [XXX], File Number TB8-12546; and Minor Claimant, [XXX], TB8-12547.

[2]       The Panel has considered the testimony and other evidence provided in this case, and renders the following oral decision:

[3]       The above-mentioned Claimants are citizens of Bangladesh and are seeking refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These four claims have been jointly heard, as they were joined pursuant to Rule 55 of the Refugee Protection Division Rules. The Principal Claimant was named as the Designated Representatives for the two Minor Claimants.

[4]       The Panel has determined that these Claimants have established a well-founded fear of persecution in Bangladesh, based on the Convention grounds of perceived political opinion, specifically, as they are employees as [XXX] and [XXX] in their country. The female Claimant, or this Principal Claimant is the [XXX] in her country, while the associate Claimant [XXX] and [XXX] and [XXX] her [XXX]. The female Claimant, as the Principal Claimant, is also a [XXX] throughout her country, and their actions are viewed as perceived anti-government because of their employment and their roles. The two Minor Claimants’ persecution is based on their membership in a particular social group, specifically, as part of the adult Claimants’ families.

[5]       With regard to the allegations, the details of this case are set out in the Claimants’ Basis of Claim forms found in Exhibit 2, 3, 4 and 5, and were further supplemented by the adult Claimants’ testimonies and supporting documentary evidence.

[6]       In summary, the Claimants fear persecution in Bangladesh at the hands of the [XXX] of the [XXX], herein called [XXX], and specifically, the [XXX] name, Mr. [XXX]. They also fear [XXX] and members of the Awami League, as well as the police. [XXX] is alleged to have strong links to the ruling Awami League Party, and [XXX] is a [XXX] with the Awami League.

[7]       The Principal Claimant alleges that she and her husband are targeted by [XXX] and [XXX] because of [XXX] in the Bangladeshi [XXX] and because [XXX] wanted her to restrict her [XXX] only to [XXX], and that he also wanted her husband to [XXX]. Therefore, their refusal to do so was seen as being anti-government, perceivably, and against the Awami League. Hence their fears are based on a perceived political opinion, as [XXX], and in the [XXX], either in [XXX] or as [XXX].

[8]       With regard to analysis, the Panel considered all of the evidence, including the oral testimony, the supporting personal documents, and the country conditions, which has been entered exhibit — as exhibits. The Panel has also considered the further allegations in detail, specifically, that the Claimants’ fears occurred between [XXX] 2018 and [XXX] 2018, and started in [XXX] 2018 when [XXX] met with the adult Claimant and expressed his request that they work for him at his [XXX] – [XXX] instead of working at [XXX]. As the adult Claimants’ refused this offer, they were subsequently threatened by phone calls from [XXX], a current Awami League member, and others, and also asked for money by way of extortion so that they could fund the Awami League coffers.

[9]       The main incident that led to the adult Claimants’ fears occurred on [XXX], 2018 when they were returning home at night and they were attacked by four Awami League associates of [XXX]. They were pistol whipped and — with rods and questioned again as to why they refused to join the [XXX], as was asked of them by the [XXX], [XXX]. Both Claimants were hospitalized as a result of this incident and they were hospitalized for three days. The adult Claimants also indicated and testified that they did report these incidents, both the [XXX], 2018 incident, as well as the [XXX], 2018 incident. They were both reported to the police, and they filed general diaries and police complaints, but they did not have much success.

[10]     On [XXX], 2018, the Claimants relocated their family to their friend’s home in [XXX], [XXX] hours away, and two weeks later, their young son, the Minor — one of the Minor Claimants was subsequently kidnapped on [XXX], 2018 while they stayed in [XXX]. He was returned the next day, on [XXX], 2018, and again, the Principal Claimant and the Associate Claimant were told not to report this incident to the police and they were again asked on the phone about why they have refused to sign the contract and join [XXX]. The adult Claimants and the Minor Claimants soon left Bangladesh on [XXX], 2018 bound for Canada.

[11]     So with regards to analysis. Firstly, the Panel is satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the Claimants’ personal identities as citizens of Bangladesh has been established by testimony and supporting documents filed. Specifically, documents included the certified true copies of the Claimants’ passports filed in Exhibit 1, which were seized by immigration officials. The Panel finds no reason to doubt the authenticity of these documents.

[12]     With regard to credibility, credibility is an issue to be considered in all claims before the Immigration and Refugee Board. The Claimants must establish a well-founded fear of persecution by presenting credible and trustworthy evidence. When a Claimant affirms that certain facts are true, this creates a presumption that they are true unless there is a valid reason to doubt their truthfulness.

[13]     In this case, after review, the Panel finds that the adult Claimants’ oral testimonies were candid, straightforward, and credible. The Principal Claimant was tearful at times during her testimony; however, her answers were still spontaneous and in detail.

[14]     With regards to supporting documents, Exhibit 11, specifically, is a package of personal documents submitted by counsel. These corroborating documents included business license, income tax certificates, the [XXX] and [XXX] ID cards, as well as the two police complaint reports filed on [XXX], 2018 and [XXX], 2018, and hospital reports of their — and discharge certificates, all filed in Exhibit 11. There were also newspaper articles filed as part of the evidence. These cumulative documents corroborated the adult Claimants’ testimonies and the BOC narratives, and on a balance of probabilities, support the core elements of the allegations.

[15]     Therefore, after review of the cumulative nature of the testimony and documentary evidence submitted, the Panel is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the Claimants’ testimonies and allegations are believable and credible. The Panel is satisfied that they would face persecution based on the previously-stated determination, that being based on a Convention ground of perceived political opinion, specifically, as they are viewed as anti-government because of their — anti­ government and anti-Awami League because of their employment as [XXX] and [XXX] and [XXX] and in [XXX] in their country, as well as the two Minor Claimants’ persecution being based on that of membership in a particular social group, specifically, as part of the adult Claimants’ family.

[15]     The Panel is satisfied that their persecution is also because they refused to comply with [XXX]’s request that they join [XXX], and — which is linked to the Awami League and the government as it tends to promote and only advertise news of the Awami League and the government.

[16]     With regard to the objective basis of this claim, the Panel finds that these Claimants’ evidence as a whole is generally consistent with the objective documentary evidence and corroborated by the country conditions as noted in the National Documentation Package listed in Exhibit 6, and also, in counsel’s disclosure package listed in Exhibit 8, 9, and 10. The country conditions document -­ specifically demonstrates similarly situated circumstances in Items 1.10, 1.4, 1.14, and 1.9 of the National Documentation Package for this country. In particular, the evidence indicates in Items 1.4 and 1 .14 that although the Constitution provides for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, however, some critics of the government or — including journalists and publicists and publishers and social media users are subject to surveillance, arrests, harassment, and intimidation, and at times have had their media accreditation withdrawn following politically motivated allegations against them. Also, Item 1.10 of the NDP specifically speaks to the Amnesty International report that indicates bloggers, and by extension, media and television and personnel are threatened in person and they, themselves, or their family members have also received threatening phone calls at their home.

[17]     The Panel is therefore satisfied on a balance of probabilities that these Claimants’ subjective fears are objectively well-founded, specifically, when assessed in the context of the country conditions. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Claimants have a well-founded fear of persecution.

[18]     With regards to state protection, in all refugee protection claims, the Panel must determine if state protection is available. In other words, the Panel must consider whether or not these particular Claimants could live safely in another part of Bangladesh. In making determination on this, the Panel considered the answers provided by the Claimants, which stated the following, and the Panel also considered the information provided in their Basis of Claim forms and the objective documentary evidence submitted and the country conditions of this country.

[19]     With regards to testimony, the Panel is satisfied that the Claimants have requested police assistance on two occasions by filing police complaints, as noted previously, and that they later returned to the police station on [XXX], 2018 to inquire about the status of their police complaint. They felt that the police were not proactive in providing answers to their complaint, but instead that the police was just passing the information along to them that they were going to look into the case but with no real avail.

[20]     With regards to the country conditions, Items 1.10, 1.17, and 1.4 — 1.9 also speak to the country conditions and state protection, specifically, in that law enforcement agencies tend to be aligned with the ruling party, and political affiliation is a motive for arrest and criminal persecution, and further, that the effectiveness of the criminal justice system is undermined by poor infrastructure and endemic corruption. Item 1.17, the U.S. State Department report, notes that capacity issues, corruption, and politicization have weakened the ability of the judiciary to deliver effective justice, and that public distrust of police and security services deter many Bangladeshi’s from approaching the police for assistance or to report criminal incidents. Item 1.9 speaks to a culture of police corruption that continues, and that security forces commit serious abuses with impunity and that the judiciary is subject to bribery, interference, and political pressure. And also, if a person fear is of persecution or serious harm at the hands of the state, or the ruling party, they, that person, will not be able to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities.

[21]     Therefore, based on the Claimants’ personal circumstances as well as the objective country conditions documentation, the Panel finds that these Claimants have rebutted the presumption of adequate state protection. Also, the Claimants have demonstrated on a balance of probabilities that they have attempted to seek state protection; however, it was not adequately forthcoming. The Panel notes that there is clear and convincing evidence that the reasons given for lack of state protection is adequate, as the agents of persecution are affiliated with the current ruling party, and includes the Awami League and its members, who have national reach and influence throughout the country.

[22]     With regards to internal relocation, in reaching a decision the Panel must also consider whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for these Claimants, and whether they can live safely in another part of the country. To make this determination, the Panel did question the Claimants about possible cities of internal relocation, and also reviewed the country conditions in the documentary evidence submitted.

[23]     The Panel notes that on [XXX], 2018, these Claimants relocated from Dhaka to their friends’ home in [XXX], approximately [XXX] kilometers away. They were, however, found one week later in [XXX] by [XXX]’s associates and one of the Minor Claimants was kidnapped on [XXX], 2018 while they stayed in [XXX]. After the Minor Claimant’s return, the Associate Claimant was told that she cannot hide from her persecutors and that she cannot hide within the rest of the country and that she was again asked to join the [XXX] at that time. The Claimants fled Bangladesh two days after the Minor Claimant’s kidnapping.

[24]     In addition, the Panel considered the testimony of the Principal Claimant, that she is a [XXX] throughout her country, as she has been a [XXX] since 1990 and that [XXX], [XXX] throughout the entire country of Bangladesh. So the Panel accepts that if she is to relocate anywhere, she would be [XXX] within the country, which then means by extension she would be [XXX] and found by her perpetrators, and by extension, her husband’s perpetrators as well.  The Claimants also testified that they cannot return to Bangladesh because [XXX]’s associates have come looking for them in [XXX] since their departure, and more recently, their house in Bangladesh has been seized by the Awami League.

[25]     With regards to country conditions, the Panel is satisfied that the same objective evidence reviewed prior but addressing country conditions and state protection, is also relevant to the country conditions relating to internal relocations. The Panel has considered the specific profile of these Claimants as [XXX] and [XXX], and specifically, that the Principal Claimant is [XXX], so it would be unreasonable for them to relocate to another part of Bangladesh without being found. Therefore, the Panel is satisfied that these Claimants would face persecution throughout the country of Bangladesh, and as such, the Panel accepts that no viable internal flight alternative is available to these Claimants that is safe and reasonable given their particular circumstances.

[26]     In conclusion, based on the totality of the evidence and the previously mentioned analysis, the Panel finds that these Claimants have a well-founded fear of persecution for the reasons already stated. The Claimants have established that there is a serious possibility of persecution if they returned to Bangladesh based on the previously-stated determination of perceived political opinion and membership in a particular social group. Therefore, this Panel concludes that these Claimants are Convention refugees as defined by section 96 of the Immigration and Protection — Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and as such, the Panel accepts this claim for refugee protection in Canada.

[27]     And that brings me to the end of the decision, and its reasons. This hearing is now concluded.

– – – DECISION CONCLUDED – – –

Categories
All Countries Mexico

2019 RLLR 15

Citation: 2019 RLLR 15
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: August 30, 2019
Panel: David D’Intino
Counsel for the claimant(s): Alfonso Mejia-Arias
Country: Mexico
RPD Number: TB8-17496
Associated RPD Numbers: TB8-17497
ATIP Number: A-2020-01124
ATIP Pages: 0000109-0000118


[1]       [XXX] (principal claimant) and her common-law spouse [XXX] (the associate claimant) both are citizens of Mexico and claim refugee protection pursuant to ss. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)1.

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The allegations are fully set out in the principal claimant’s basis of claim (BOC) form2. To summarize, the principal claimant fears persecution by corrupt state actors on the basis of her political opinion and her work as a [XXX] in Mexico. The associate claimant fears persecution as the spouse of the principal claimant and also a risk to his life or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment by the same corrupt state actors.

DETERMINATION

[3]       I find that the principal claimant is a Convention Refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the IRPA, as she faces a serious possibility of persecution on account of her member in a particular social [XXX]. I also find that the associate claimant is a Convention refugee on the basis of membership in a particular social group, a family member of a [XXX], as the spouse of the principal claimant.

IDENTITY

[4]       The claimants have established their identities as nationals of Mexico by their Mexican passports3.

ANALYSIS

Credibility

[5]       The claimants were credible witnesses. Their evidence was logical, consistent and free from material contradictions, omissions or implausibility. They offered spontaneous details without prompting and were both highly articulate when discussing specifics. The principal claimant in particular was impressive when discussing her passion for [XXX] and the ideals of freedom of expression, despite her young age.

[6]       As such, I make the following findings of fact:

a.         The principal claimant was a journalist in Mexico. She started her career in 2011 while she was still in University. She began working as a [XXX] but felt that she was only being used to attract men to the publication and not for her intellect, so she subsequently began working for [XXX] in or around 2017;

b.         In 2016, the associate claimant began working for the [XXX] in the state of [XXX]. After working for the [XXX] for a short time, in or around [XXX] of 2016 the associate claimant was approached by his superior and told he was being considered for an “under the table” supervisor position. All he had to do was to fudge some numbers and sign off on the invoices;

c.         The associate claimant was not comfortable in doing this because he knew it was wrong and so discussed the offer with his spouse. The principal claimant saw this as an opportunity to have her work taken seriously and to expose corruption within the [XXX] and so they attempted to collect further information and further details of the scheme;

d.         The associate claimant testified that his superior [XXX] wanted him to call the vendors of supplies to the [XXX] and modify the invoices, effectively engaging in “money laundering”. In order to not arouse suspicion, the associate claimant played along for a while, in order to gather more evidence for the principal claimant to write her story;

e.         The principal claimant wrote a draft of the article, which was never published.4 She testified that she shared her notes with only four people. Her editor warned her to be careful because of what she was getting involved in, but did not discourage her from investigating and writing the article;

f.          The day before the [XXX] 2016 holidays, after work the associate claimant was leaving work to pick up his spouse when he was cut off by two vehicles. Armed men exited one of the vehicles, surrounded the claimant and threw him to the ground. They put a gun to his head and told him that if the principal claimant published her article on the Health Ministry fraud, that they would gang rape her in front of the associate claimant, chop her up into pieces and the burn the associate claimant to ashes;

g.         The claimants agreed that the associate claimant would play along and pretend to call vendors and pretend to cooperate so that his employers who were watching him would not suspect anything untoward;

h.         The claimants then left Mexico on [XXX], 2017 and came to Canada. They did not claim refugee status until April 3, 2018 when the associate claimant was detained by Ontario Provincial Police during a traffic stop.

NEXUS

[7]       I find that the principal claimant [XXX] has multiple nexuses to the Convention. Counsel argued that she faces persecution on account of her political opinion, given that the fraud and corruption she has uncovered is directly tied to the government of [XXX]. She also faces persecution on account of her gender as a woman in Mexico who has been threatened with sexual violence. Lastly, counsel submits that she is a journalist and faces persecution on that basis and which is a particular social group under s. 96.

[8]       For the purposes of this decision I will conduct my analysis on the basis of her membership in a particular social group, journalists.

[9]       The associate claimant also has multiple nexuses to the Convention. I will conduct my analysis on the basis of his membership in a particular social group, the family member of a [XXX].

WELL FOUNDED FEAR OF PERSECUTION

Subjective Fear

[10]     The claimants each fear persecution on a Convention ground. The principal claimant fears sexual violence and death on account her work as a journalist to expose corruption within the [XXX].

[11]     The associate claimant fears torture and death on account of his refusal to engage in the same corruption but also as retaliation for his common-law partner’s [XXX].

[12]     The claimants knowingly remained in Canada for over a year before claiming refugee status. It was only the associate claimant’s arrest in [XXX] of 2018 following a traffic stop that prompted them to make their asylum claim. Such a delay is assessed vis-a-vis the claimants’ credibility and subjective fear5.

[13]     The principal claimant testified that they did not intend to remain in Canada, but rather were hoping to return to Mexico after the Federal election (which resulted in the victory of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador). Unfortunately, the claimant says that the election did not spur positive change vis-a-vis the protection of journalists and combatting institutional corruption, and therefore claiming refugee status was a last resort.

[14]     Given that I found the claimants to be very credible, I accepted this explanation and made no adverse finding regarding their credibility. I accept that the claimants subjectively fear persecution on Convention grounds if they returned to Mexico.

Objective Basis

[15]     The principal claimant’s article on the fraud at the Health Ministry was never published, though she testified that she did attempt to have it published. She provided a copy to me in the claimants’ disclosure package.6 The principal claimant testified that only four people knew about that article, and yet someone with an interest in preventing its publication was informed of its existence which then prompted a violent attack and threats of death against the associate claimant.

[16]     I have already found the claimants to be credible. Therefore, the only reasonable inference I can draw is that one of those four people at [XXX] leaked the existence of that article to corrupt actors in the [XXX], who then directed armed men to intercept and threaten the associate claimant.

[17]     Corruption is endemic throughout all levels of government in Mexico. The NDP for Mexico paints a bleak picture of the police, prosecution and security services overall. For example, item 9.6 describes how some members of the Public Ministry will not even register a complaint without first receiving a bribe.7

[18]     Item 9.108 highlights the following about the Mexican political and judicial system:

At least 14 former or current governors are currently under investigation for corruption, some of them for colluding with the organized crime groups that are largely responsible for Mexico’s rising violence. 1 In 2017, Mexico placed last among OECD countries in Transparency International ‘s Corruption Perceptions Index, with an overall ranking of 135 out of 180 countries, putting it in the company of Honduras, Paraguay, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and others.

Blatant corruption and government abuse in a moment of such extreme violence has greatly weakened Mexicans’ confidence in public institutions. A September 2017 Pew Research Center survey found corruption to be Mexicans’ top public concern, with 84 percent of those surveyed saying corrupt political leaders were a “very big problem” in their country and 79 percent saying the same about corrupt police officers-up 12 and 9 percent, respectively, from 2015.

High public perception of corruption extends into the judicial sector as well: as seen in Figure 1, Mexico’s most recent national victimization survey suggests over 60 percent of the population perceives the country’s prosecutors and judges as corrupt.

According to the same victimization survey, an estimated 94 percent of crimes in Mexico are never reported or investigated, primarily because victims distrust authorities or because they believe reporting crimes is a waste of time. This fuels violence and impunity, as any crime that goes unreported also goes unpunished, allowing criminal groups and corrupt officials to perpetrate crimes without fear of being held accountable. In 2017, Mexico had the fourth highest impunity index on the Global Impunity Index, and it ranked first out of the 21 countries in the Americas that were analyzed.

[19]     In considering all of the evidence available to me, I find that the claimants have established an objective basis for their fear of persecution in Mexico.

STATE PROTECTION

[20]     There is a presumption that, except in situations where the state is in complete breakdown, the state is capable of protecting its citizens. The presumption that a state is capable of protecting its citizens underscores the principle that international protection comes into play only when a refugee claimant has no other recourse available9. Having canvassed the country conditions documents, the panel finds that the Mexican government is in effective control of its territory and has in place a functioning security force to uphold the laws and constitution of the country10. Therefore, the burden of attempting to show that one should not be required to exhaust all avenues of domestic recourse is a heavy one11.

[21]     The documentary evidence before me indicates that Mexico is a democracy, and there are free and fair elections. There is a relatively independent and impartial judiciary. Therefore, in countries such as Mexico the claimant must do more than merely show that he or she went to see members of the police force and that those efforts were unsuccessful.

[22]     There is a high incidence of violence in Mexico. The violence is largely attributable to drug trafficking and organized crime. While there is corruption in Mexico, the government is making efforts to deal with this problem12.

[23]     However, though the state of Mexico may have the best of intentions and has the appropriate laws in place, the concern for the panel is the operational adequacy of those efforts in providing adequate state protection. Based on all of the materials available to me, it is evident that Mexico is simply unable to protect journalists from persecution, torture or death.

[24]     For example, item 2.1 of the Mexico NDP contains a human rights report issued by the U.S. Department of State13 and I note the following passage:

Human rights issues included reports of the involvement by police, military, and other state officials, sometimes in coordination with criminal organizations, in unlawful or arbitrary killings, forced disappearance, torture, and arbitrary detention by both government and illegal armed groups; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions in some prisons; impunity for violence against journalists and state and local censorship and criminal libel; and violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

Impunity for human rights abuses remained a problem, with extremely low rates of prosecution for all forms of crimes. The government’s federal statistics agency (INEGI) estimated 94 percent of crimes were either unreported or not investigated.

The same document14 at page 15, states the following:

Violence and Harassment: Journalists were murdered or subject to physical attacks, harassment, and intimidation (especially by state agents and transnational criminal organizations) due to their reporting. This limited media’s ability to investigate and report, since many of the reporters who were killed covered crime, corruption, and local politics. According to the NGO Article 19, as of December 5, nine journalists had been killed because of their reporting.

Perpetrators of violence against journalists acted with impunity. According to Article 19, as of August the impunity rate for crimes against journalists was 99.7 percent. In 2017 there were 507 attacks against journalists, according to Article 19. Since its creation in 2010, the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Journalists (FEADLE), a PGR unit, won only eight convictions, and none for murder, in the more than 2,000 cases it investigated. On August 25, FEADLE won its first conviction in the new justice system, obtaining a sentence against Tabasco state police officers for illegally detaining a journalist because of his reporting.

Government officials believed organized crime to be behind most of these attacks, but NGOs asserted there were instances when local government authorities participated in or condoned the acts. According to Article 19, in the last five years, 48 percent of physical attacks against journalists originated with public officials. Although 75 percent of those came from state or local officials, federal officials and members of the armed forces were also suspected of being behind attacks against journalists.

[25]     Furthermore, in this claim the agents of persecution are apparently acting at the behest of rogue state actors. Where the agent of persecution is the state itself or acting at the behest of corrupt state actors, there is no state protection. Furthermore, where the failure of state to protect its citizens forms a broader pattern of failure throughout the country, the inadequacy of state protection is made out.15

[26]     In considering all of the evidence presented, particularly the objective country documentation which supports the testimony of the principal claimant, I find that on a balance of probabilities, state protection for this claimant is inadequate and would not be reasonably forthcoming. I further find that had the claimants approached the authorities for protection, that they would be putting their lives at risk.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE

[27]     I proposed Merida, Yucatan as a potential internal flight alternative for the claimants. Merida is almost 1800 kilometres or a 23 hour drive from [XXX], where the claimants resided.

[28]     I asked the principal claimant if she could move to Merida and be safe. She replied as follows:

“No, because I am [XXX] and that is not going to change. That’s what I studied for and worked so hard for and I am not going to throw that away. I always try to expose the truth and expose the power they have. They [NDP for Mexico] can say its [Merida] safe but cannot guarantee your safety regardless of what your career may be”.

[29]     Given that the claimants fear corrupt state actors because of their knowledge of a misuse of public funds, I find on a balance of probabilities that the agents of persecution would have both the desire and the means to locate the claimants throughout Mexico.

[30]     Furthermore, I find that the principal claimant would not cease her [XXX] work. It is a fundamental part of her identity and is clearly important to her. The objective evidence strongly supports the conclusion that journalists are subject to persecution everywhere in Mexico and therefore the principal claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution everywhere in Mexico.

[31]     The associate claimant is going to follow his common law spouse wherever she goes. He faces a similar risk of violence, torture or death as a consequence of her work as journalist and I find that there is no viable IFA in Mexico which is both safe and reasonable for him as well.

CONCLUSION

[32]     I find that the principal claimant is Convention refugee as she faces a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground, as a member of a particular social group – [XXX], on a forward-looking basis. Her claim is accepted.

[33]     I similarly find that the associate claimant is a Convention refugee as he faces a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground, as a member of a particular social group – the family of a [XXX], on a forward-looking basis. His claim is also accepted.

(signed)          David D’Intino

August 30, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), SC 2001, c 27, as amended.
2 Exhibit 2.1.
3 Exhibit 1.
4 Exhibit 4.
5 Toure v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2012 FC 773, at para 55.
6 Exhibit 4.
7 Exhibit 3. National Documentation Package for Mexico (March 29, 2019 version).
8 Ibid.
9 Ward, supra note 5.
10 Exhibit 4
11 Sanchez, Perla Saavedra v. M.C.I. (F.C., no. IMM-1604-07), Barnes, February 5, 2008, 2008 FC 134.
12 Exhibit 3, supra note 3.
13 Exhibit 3. Item 2.1. “Mexico. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018” U.S. Department of State pg 1.
14 Ibid at p 15.
15 Zhuravlvev v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration), [2000] F.C.J. No. 507.

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2019 RLLR 11

Citation: 2019 RLLR 11
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 23, 2019
Panel: L. Hartslief
Counsel for the claimant(s): Steven Beiles
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB7-25589
Associated RPD Numbers: TB7-25593
ATIP Number: A-2020-01124
ATIP Pages: 000089-000092


[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision for [XXX] and [XXX], file number TB7-25589. You are both claiming to be citizens of Turkey, and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       I have considered both your testimonies and the other evidence in the case and I am ready to render my decision orally.

[3]       I find that you are both convention refugees for the reason that you have established there is a serious possibility of persecution in Turkey based on your political opinion as HDP supporters. By way of background you allege the following.

[4]       Since 2014 you both have been actively supporting the HDP Party in Turkey, which is a leftist party focused on social justice as it relates to the Kurdish people and other minorities. The principal claimant has been arrested and detained for his political activities, and you both experienced a police raid on your home as a result of your political beliefs and involvement with the HDP.

[5]       You say that if you return to Turkey you will be targeted by the police and security forces and arbitrarily arrested and detained for your political views.

[6]       Your personal identities as citizens of Turkey has been established by your testimony and the supporting documents, including your passports, your national identity cards and your family registry documents.

[7]       I therefore find on a balance of probabilities that identity and country of reference have been established for both of you.

[8]       I find that there is a link between what you fear and one of the five Convention grounds; specifically, your leftist political opinion as HDP supporters. This claim is therefore assessed under Section 96 of The Act.

[9]       I have considered all of the documentation before me, as well as your testimony, and I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that you would face a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Turkey.

[10]     In terms of your general credibility, I found you both to be credible witnesses. You both described your involvement with the HDP Party, including your election campaign activities distributing brochures, talking to members of the public, and garnering support for your local candidate.

[11]     The principal claimant accurately described the party’s platform, and you explained in detail what motivated you to support the party both with your volunteer activities and your monetary donations.

[12]     You both described in detail the circumstances of the police raid on your home just prior to leaving Turkey. The principal claimant described the various times he has been questioned, threatened and detained by the police in retaliation for his activities as an HDP supporter.

[13]     You presented your descriptions in a clear and consistent manner, and I have no reason to doubt your testimony.

[14]     Finally, you provided documentary evidence in support of your testimony, including a supporting letter from the HDP Party in Turkey; a letter from the Alevi Cultural Association in Canada; and pictures confirming your presence at various anti-government gatherings of Kurdish business people.

[15]     Throughout the hearing you both presented your testimony in a clear and consistent manner, and you both responded spontaneously to questioning. Your testimony was straightforward and was in keeping with your basis of claim form.

[16]     I therefore find that your subjective fear is established by your credible testimony, and I believe what you have alleged on a balance of probabilities.

[17]     The objective evidence regarding the current situation in Turkey supports your position that you will face a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Turkey. I looked at a number of documents in the National Documentation Package dated March 29th of this year and the objective evidence is consistent with your allegation that members of the HDP Party experience persecution at the hands of the government.

[18]     In particular, I considered Item 1.6 from the U.K. Home Office which confirms the arrest and detention of various high level HDP members. In addition, Item 1.12 from the U.K. Home Office confirms that activists and other actors no in line with the government views may be targeted by the authorities.

[19]     Finally, the defat item at 1.17 from Australia confirms that the restrictions on the ability of Turkish citizens to express dissent to the government, individually or collectively, has increased, particularly under the state of emergency.

[20]     In its 2018 Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House ranked Turkey as not free.

[21]     The objective evidence supports your allegations that you will continue to be targeted by the Turkish government as active HDP supporters and individuals with perceived anti-government opinions.

[22]     As the state is the agent of persecution in your situation, I am satisfied that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection because you cannot access or otherwise expect to receive adequate state protection throughout Turkey.

[23]     Furthermore, as the state is the agent of persecution, I am satisfied that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Turkey, and therefore there is no viable internal flight alternative.

[24]     Based on the foregoing analysis I find that you have established there is a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground; namely your political opinion as HDP supporters.

[25]     Therefore, I find that you are convention refugees, and I accept your claims.