Categories
All Countries Turkey

2019 RLLR 33

Citation: 2019 RLLR 33
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 20, 2019
Panel: O. Adeoye
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amedeo Clivio
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-19724
ATIP Number: A-2021-01124
ATIP Pages: 000186-000190


[1]       MEMBER: I’ve considered your testimony and your other evidence before me today, which includes your documentary evidence, and I’m ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       This is a claim for refugee protection made by [XXX], who claims to be a citizen of Turkey and is seeking refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Allegations

[3]       The summary of the claimant’s allegations are contained his Basis of Claim form and I will not repeat them all here.

[4]       In summary, the claimant alleges that he fears to return to Turkey because he’s involved in the Hizmet Movement, which is also known as the Gülen Movement.

[5]       He alleges that he supports the ideas of the movement’s leader or founder, Fetullah Gülen, and that these ideas deal with, among other things, religion, society, charity, and education.

[6]       He further alleges that due to his Kurdish ethnicity and his family’s longstanding history of being involvement with pro-Kurdish politics, he may be imputed to be a separatist Kurd or HDP supporter.

Determination

[7]       The Panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee because he faces a serious possibility of persecution on the Convention ground of his imputed political opinion in Turkey as a Hizmet follower.

Identity

[8]       The claimant’s identity as a national of Turkey is established by his testimony and certified true copy of his Turkish passport attached to Exhibit 1.

[9]       Also, the Panel finds that the claimant has established his Hizmet identity based on his affiliation with the Hizmet Movement, again through his testimony and supporting documentation attached to Exhibit 5.

Credibility

[10]     Overall, the Panel has found the claimant to be a credible witness on a balance of probabilities on what is core to his claim. In this case, his imputed political opinion as a follower of the Hizmet Movement.

[11]     The Panel therefore believes what he has alleged in support of his claim.

[12]     He testified in a straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in his testimony or contradictions between his testimony and other evidence before the Panel that were not satisfactorily explained.

[13]     The claimant testified generally in a straightforward manner regarding his involvement in the Hizmet Movement, his reasons for becoming involved in the movement, his actions, his roles in support of the movement and affiliated institutions, and also he provided credible testimony regarding the movement as a whole, as well as providing information about members of the movement being mistreated by the Turkish authorities, which includes his family members.

[14]     Therefore the Panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has been able to -­ that the claimant was involved in the Hizmet Movement since he was a child and in 2003 when he attended — was a child when he attended meetings with his uncle, and 2003 when he attended Hizmet affiliated prep school, and finds on a balance of probabilities — also finds on a balance of probabilities that he volunteered with Hizmet affiliated charities, purchased Hizmet affiliated, and subscribed to Hizmet affiliated publications.

[15]     So the Panel therefore finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant is credible, accepts his allegations as credible, and that he has established his subjective fear.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[16]     As it relates to the well-foundedness of the claimant’s fear of persecution, the Panel finds that the claimant’s subjective fear has an objective basis based on the objective documentary evidence before the Panel.

[17]     There is ample corroborating evidence in the country condition documents about the Turkish authority’s harsh treatment of members of the Hizmet Movement, which was worsened after the attempted coup in July 2016, for which the Turkish regime held the Gillen Movement responsible.

[18]     Item 2.3 in the National Documentation Package titled, “Freedom in the World 2017” states that:

[19]     “Turkey has a large number of active non-governmental organizations. However, authorities have mentioned and harassed many NGOs in recent years. In particular, those affiliated with the Gillen Hizmet Movement.

[20]     In the aftermath of the coup, 1,229 foundations and associations and 19 trade unions were shut down without judicial proceedings.”

[21]     Also:

“375 more associations and NGOs were closed for alleged links to terrorists and their assets were seized by the government.”

[22]     The National Documentation Package also reports that:

“There are significant problems with arbitrary and indefinite detention and mistreatment of those arrested or suspected to be Hizmet Movement and increasing lack of judicial independence, especially after the dismissal of more than 3,000 judges following the attempted coup, relaxation on restrictions on the use of torture, and widespread impunity for officials who commit human rights abuses persist in Turkey.”

[23]     There is also considerable evidence that:

“The authorities in Turkey have targeted family members of suspected Hizmet sympathizers or those who are wanted for arrest and cancelled their passports or even detained them.”

[24]     Furthermore, the evidence in the National Documentation Package notes the:

“Closing of Hizmet affiliated universities in Turkey and the broader negative effects on academic freedom and freedom of speech in Turkey that have resulted from Turkish authority’s crackdown on Hizmet followers, affiliated educational institutions, and other academics who have voiced criticism of the regime and its actions.”

[25]     After reviewing all this evidence which the Panel finds — after reviewing all this evidence, the Panel finds that the claimant’s allegations are consistent with the objective country condition documents with regards to the harsh treatment currently being made out against Hizmet supporters in Turkey, including dismissal from employment, increased closing down Hizmet affiliated education institutions, seizure of assets, detention, and mistreatment.

[26]     Therefore, based on this country documentary evidence and the credible allegations, the Panel finds that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Turkey by reason of his imputed political opinion.

State Protection

[27]     As the state is the agent of persecution — as the agent of persecution is the Government of Turkey, the Panel finds that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimant to seek protection of the Turkish Government in light of the claimant’s particular circumstances.

Internal Flight Alternative

[28]     The Panel also finds that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Turkey, especially given the objective documentary evidence that the Turkish authorities operates similarly throughout Turkey.

[29]     Therefore the Panel finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to the claimant.

Conclusion

[30]     The Panel finds that the claimant has established that he will face a serious possibility of persecution upon his return to Turkey on the Convention ground of his political opinion.

[31]     And based on the foregoing analysis, the Panel has determined that the claimant is a Convention refugee as per section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and therefore accepts his claim.

– – – DECISION CONCLUDED – – –

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2019 RLLR 30

Citation: 2019 RLLR 30
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 28, 2019
Panel: Zahra Kaderali
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Brian Ibrahim Cintosun
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-06422
ATIP Number: A-2021-01124
ATIP Pages: 000175-000178


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

[2]       The claimant, [XXX], claims refugee protection pursuant to s. 96 ands. 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Allegations

[3]       The claimant fears return to Turkey on the grounds of his involvement with the Hizmet or Gulen Movement. He indicates that his family, including his mother and father, are Hizmet members and that his brother and nephew have been granted protection in Canada.

[4]       The claimant indicates that after the coup attempt took place in July 2016, Hizmet media was closed, Hizmet schools were closed and Hizmet-affiliated business were seized. He indicates that he and his family were concerned, as people affiliated with the Hizmet Movement were being arrested for being members of the FETO terrorist organisation.

[5]       The claimant alleges that at the end of December 2018, he was advised by a lawyer that his name was being mentioned in a Hizmet case by the authorities, and the claimant made an application for a US visa and departed Turkey for the United States on the [XXX] 2019, and travelled to Canada on the [XXX] 2019.

Determination

[6]       The panel finds the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the IRPA.

[7]       Should the claimant return to Turkey, the panel finds he has established a serious possibility that he would be persecuted on the ground of his perceived or imputed political opinion.

Analysis

Identity

[8]       The claimant’s personal and national identity- of Turkey has been established through a copy of his passport, found in Exhibit 1.

[9]       I am satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant is who he says he is and is a citizen of Turkey.

[10]     The panel notes that while the claimant’s parents were born in Bulgaria, they do not hold citizenship in Bulgaria.

[11]     The panel further notes that the claimant provided an excerpt from his father’s passport, which includes a visa for Bulgaria, and has further reviewed Item 3.1 of the National Documentation Package for Bulgaria.

[12]     The panel is satisfied that Bulgaria is not a country of reference in these particular circumstances.

Credibility

[13]     The panel found the claimant to be a credible witness, who provided detailed testimony consistent with his BoC narrative and forms.

[14]     While the panel has concerns with the claimant’s failure to claim for protection in the United States, the test is forward-looking, and the panel finds a serious possibility of persecution, should the claimant return to Turkey.

[15]     The claimant explained in detail his involvement with the Hizmet Movement, his family’s history with the movement and the basic principles of the movement as examples.

[16]     Several corroborative documents are found in Exhibits 6 and 8, including, but not limited to: the investigation letter from the Office of the Prosecutor, dated 25th December 2018, in regards to the claimant; and the Notice of Decision and Reasons for the claims for protection in Canada for both his brother, who was here today but did not testify, and his nephew, both of whom were granted protection; the hearing record for the claimant’s fellow shareholder in his coffee business, who was sentenced to six years and three months of imprisonment for what the claimant indicates was his involvement in the Hizmet Movement.

[17]     While the claimant did not provide the original documents to the panel today, the claimant was credible and explained that these documents were sent via the application WhatsApp and via e­ mail through his brother and his nephew and through himself. Counsel was able to show the panel on his e-mail some of the documents sent to his e-mail by the claimant’s nephew, [XXX] (ph.).

[18]     Counsel also indicated that the claimant’s brother was available this morning to testify. As the claimant indicated, he had assisted the claimant in e-mailing some of the documents. The panel accepts the claimant’s allegations as credible and his brother [XXX] (ph.) was not called upon to testify.

[19]     As indicated in Item 4.6 of the National Document Package for Turkey, Turkish authorities blame the failed coup attempt in July 2016 on Gulen and the Turkish government has characterised the Gulen Movement as a terrorist organisation.”

[20]     As indicated in Item 2.1 of the NDP for Turkey, the government engaged in a worldwide effort to apprehend suspected members of FETO, a term the government applied to followers of Fetullah Gulen, also known as members of the Gulen Movement.”

[21]     Item I.7 indicates that,

“Following the coup attempt, there was a large number of arrests, detentions and dismissals from jobs, as the government took measures against those suspected of involvement in the Gulenist Movement.”

[22]     Item 2.1 further indicates that the authorities used anti-terror laws broadly against alleged Gulen Movement members, resulting in the detention of the member.

[23]     The claimant in these particular circumstances indicates he has come to the attention of the Turkish authorities, as indicated by the documentation found in Exhibit 8 from the Office of the Prosecutor.

[24]     The panel finds an objective and subjective basis to the claimant’s fears on a balance of probability.

State Protection

[25]     I find that State protection would not be reasonably forthcoming since the authorities themselves are the agents of persecution.

Internal Flight Alternative

[26]     Given that the State is the agent of persecution, the panel finds no internal flight alternative in your particular circumstances. There is a serious possibility of persecution throughout the country.

Conclusion

[27]     The panel concludes that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the IRPA and accepts his claim.

DECISION CONCLUDED

Categories
All Countries Iran

2019 RLLR 22

Citation: 2019 RLLR 22
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: August 7, 2019
Panel: J. Bousfield
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ardeshir H. Zarezadeh
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TB8-24144
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-24188, TB8-24203, TB8-24203, TB8-24204
ATIP Number: A-2021-01124
ATIP Pages: 000145-000147


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: I’ve considered the testimony and evidence in this case and I’m rendering an oral decision. Written reasons will be provided.

[2]       This is the decision in the claims for refugee protection of [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], and [XXX]. They claim to be citizens of Iran from Tehran. They’re claiming refugee protection under Section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       The principal claimant was designated representative for the minor claimants.

[4]       I’m satisfied that the claimants are citizens of Iran and as to their personal identity based on their passports which can be found in Exhibit 1.

[5]       The details of the allegations appear in the answers to the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim Form which is Exhibit 2.1 and were elaborated upon by him in oral testimony during the hearing this morning. The central allegations of a much longer narrative are the following.

[6]       The principal claimant made police complaints in regard to a business dispute with a well connected landlord. The landlord retaliated by using connections in the police and the courts to have the complaints dismissed. He then had the principal claimant arrested, detained, and accused of insulting the Iranian regime. The principal claimant therefore fled to Turkey in [XXX] 2017.

[7]       Iranian authorities harassed and threatened the female claimant after the principal claimant went to Turkey. The claimants therefore fled to Canada on temporary residence visas in July 2018 and initiated these inland refugee protection claims a few weeks after their arrival.

[8]       The claimants have been politically active against the Iranian regime while they’ve been in Canada. They fear political persecution if they return to Iran.

[9]       For the following reasons I find that the claimants are Convention refugees.

[10]     The affirmed testimony of refugee claimants is presumed to be true, unless it is internally inconsistent, inherently implausible, or contradicted by documentary evidence on country conditions. In this regard I am relying on the Federal Court of Appeal decision in Maldonado.

[11]     For the most part there was no such fault with the principal claimant’s testimony. Furthermore, the allegations in the case are corroborated by a number of personal documents that I do not have sufficient to discount including probative photographs, a court order, a lease, and a statement from the principal claimant’s former business partner. These documents can be found in Exhibits 4 and 5.

[12]     For all these reasons I find that the principal claimant is a credible witness and that the central allegations in this case are all true, on a balance of probabilities.

[13]     The country documentary evidence before me indicates that peaceful political opposition to the Iranian Government and its policies and perceived opposition in this regard will attract a serious possibility of persecution by the government in Iran.  The country documents in this regard can be found in Sections I, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 12 of Exhibit 3 which is the National Documentation Package for Iran for March 29, 2019.

[14]     Therefore, based on this country documentary evidence and the credible allegations, I find that the claimants have a well-founded fear of persecution in Iran by reason of their perceived anti­government political opinion and/or their family relationship to the principal claimant.

[15]     As the Government of Iran is an agent of persecution, I find that adequate State protection and viable internal flight alternatives are not available to the claimants.

[16]     I therefore conclude that they’re Convention refugees. The … these claims are therefore accepted. This decision is concluded. Thank you for corning. Good morning.

[17]     Thank you, Madam Interpreter.

[18]     INTERPRETER: Thank you.

[19]     CLAIMANT: Thank you.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED —

Categories
All Countries Haiti

2019 RLLR 20

Citation: 2019 RLLR 20
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: August 27, 2019
Panel: R. Riley
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Tina Hlimi  
Country: Haiti
RPD Number: TB8-20008
ATIP Number: A-2021-01124
ATIP Pages: 000137-000140


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons in relation to this claim. The reasons given orally today will be rendered into writing and the transcript of the reasons will be sent to the claimant and his lawyer within a matter of weeks.

ALLEGATIONS:

[2]       The claimant alleges that he is a citizen of Haiti. The claimant says that he is targeted by armed bandits associated with [XXX] the Mayor of [XXX]. He states that he was attacked in [XXX] 2018. He was told by the attacker to stop inciting the youth against the mayor of [XXX] and he was also accused of being a member of the opposition.

[3]       He left Haiti in [XXX] of 2018, spent approximately six weeks in the United States and came to Canada to claim refugee protection. The claimant alleges that the Government of Haiti will not protect him and that there is no safe place for him anywhere in Haiti.

ANALYSIS:

IDENTITY:

[4]       The claimant provided his Haitian passport, a certified copy of which is found in Exhibit 1. The claimant also provided his birth certificate, a copy of which is found at page 7 at Exhibit 4 and his school records, copies of which are found at pages 2 to 6 of Exhibit 4.

[5]       The panel is satisfied as to the Haitian citizenship and the identity of this claimant.

CREDIBILITY:

[6]       The testimony of the claimant was straightforward and reasonably consistent. The claimant may have exaggerated the role of the person he feared having promoted the deputy mayor to the position of Mayor, nevertheless this was a minor matter, overall the panel detected no serious contradictions or omissions.

[7]       The claimant’s testimony that he promoted worthy deeds and thoughts in Haiti is worn out by music video he presented as well as his testimony. The claimant states that he and other students volunteered to clean up streets after it rained in [XXX]. The claimant was involved in donating books to an orphanage.

[8]       The music video showed the claimant performing a song with numerous images of young persons on the street and showing the classrooms where those young persons should be studying.

[9]       The video also demonstrated the claimant’s commitment to encouraging the youth of Haiti to go to school. All of these good deeds appear on the surface to be non-controversial.

[10]     The reality is that the claimant’s good intentions and his declarations were interpreted by the deputy mayor of [XXX] as being implicitly critical of the city administration. By engaging in the actions he did, the claimant was seen to be stating that the city administration was not up to doing it’s job.

[11]     This is clear case of attribution of political opinions where perhaps none were originally intended.

[12]     The panel accepts the claimant’s testimony that he could continue to write and perform songs about the social conditions in Haiti and that those in authority in Haiti could easily interpret such declarations as statements critical of those politicians who are not doing a good job for the benefit of other Haitians if he were to return to Haiti.

[13]     On a balance of probabilities, the testimony of the claimant is credible and trustworthy. Linked to Convention ground, the claimant’s declarations and good deeds were an indirect expression of a political opinion, those good deeds are illustrated by the photos found at Exhibit 5 of the evidence.

[14]     The claimant’s declarations and deeds were certainly interpreted as political opinions which were encountered to the opinions of those in power in [XXX].

[15]     The peaceful expression of that political opinion caused the claimant actual and prospective harm. Violence was committed against him, his life was threatened.

[16]     The panel is satisfied that this type of claim falls within the definition of a Convention refugee when he was under threat of persecution due to political opinion.

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE:

[17]     The panel has paid attention to the Medical Report found at pages 16 to 18 of Exhibit 4 as well as the police report found at page 19 of Exhibit 4. These documents are supportive of the claimant’s declaration that he was assaulted in late [XXX] 2018.

[18]     The claimant also provided support letters from various witnesses in Haiti, those letters are found at pages 9 to 11 of Exhibit 4 and they tend to corroborate the allegations of the claim, in short the documentary evidence supports the credibility of this claim.

STATE PROTECTION:

[19]     The agents of persecution belong to or are affiliated with a person in power namely the deputy mayor of the city of [XXX], the deputy mayor appears to have at her disposal a group of thugs who will engage in violent acts to punish those who are against her or who are perceived to be against her.

[20]     The documentary evidence indicates that the police in Haiti are known to be corruptible and not to be very good at protecting citizens from those in power.

[21]     The panel here is referring to the National Documentation Package. This claimant has no reasonable expectation of protection from persons in authority who are threatening him. It would not be reasonable for this claimant to seek State protection under these circumstances.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE:

[22]     The National Documentation Package also indicates that persons who are fleeing persecution within Haiti can easily be traced.

[23]     There is no satisfactory evidence that there would be, on a balance of probabilities, a safe place of refugee for this claimant within Haiti. The panel concludes that it would not be reasonable for this claimant to seek an internal flight alternative.

CONCLUSION:

[24]     Having considered all of the evidence, the panel determines that the claimant has discharged his burden of establishing that there is serious possibility of persecution if he were to return to Haiti. The panel therefore concludes that the claimant, [XXX], is a Convention refugee by reason of his perceived political opinion and the Division accepts his claim and I wish you the very best in future, sir.

[25]     CLAIMANT: Thank you.

[26]     MEMBER: Thank you counsel for you assistance.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Palestine

2019 RLLR 116

Citation: 2019 RLLR 116
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 31, 2019
Panel: Chad Prowse
Country: Palestine
RPD Number: VB8-02564
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000221-000227


— DECISION

[1]       PRESIDING MEMBER: Mr. [XXX], I’ve considered your testimony and the other evidence in your case, I’m ready to render my decision orally. I would like to add that in the event that written reasons are issued they will reflect those that I’m giving you know.

[2]       Mr. [XXX] and his spouse Mrs. [XXX] and their child [XXX] are stateless persons from Gaza in the occupied Palestinian territory, who claim refugee protection pursuant to ss. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       Mr. [XXX] is the designated representative for his daughter [XXX].

[4]       The claimants’ complete allegations are contained in the principal claimant’s basis of claim form and narrative. In brief, they allege the following: The principal claimant was raised Muslim but has considered himself to be an atheist or agnostic for the past four to five years.

[5]       In June 2010, the principal claimant completed his undergraduate degree in Gaza graduating at the top of his class. Although it is a long-standing tradition in Palestine that the top graduate of each class goes on to work for the government. He was told that he was not ethically fit to work for the government as he did not attend mosque or answer their questions about his religion appropriately. The principal claimant went on to work in the non-profit sector including at the [XXX] from June 2012 to June 2013, and for the [XXX]. He worked as a [XXX].

[6]       Around February or March 2013, the claimant received his first threat, a neighbour associated with Hamas approached him and politely advised him to stop taking a position as part of his work that abusers of disabled women should be prosecuted. A neighbour told him that Hamas would otherwise take action against him. As a result of this threat, the claimant kept a lower profile at work. He left his employment a few months later.

[7]       In February 2014, the claimant was kidnapped the day after discussing his UNESCO project with youth during which he had inadvertently spoke about the problem of military recruitment of children by Hamas, and expressed his view that the problems in Palestinian are due to land seizure and are not about religion or ethnicity, and that children should not be taught to hate Jews. The claimant was beaten and told that what he said at the round table discussion with youth was inappropriate that Jews were the enemy, and that those who had kidnapped were angry with him or angry with him. He was dropped off at night a long ways from his house. The claimant believes that he was kidnapped by the internal security wing of Hamas.

[8]       September 2015, the claimant received a letter from Hamas at his home informing him that he was required to attend the Hamas police station on 7th September 2015. He attended this meeting. The Hamas police officer told him that he was disturbing the public calm for having voiced his opinion about a schoolgirl who was dismissed from class for refusing to wear a headscarf. His opinion was that persons should be free to wear whatever they wish. While he was being interviewed by the police his phone was searched, they found a conversation with other secular atheists there and discovered that he was working as a volunteer with a human rights organization called [XXX]. The officer was angry and threatened to kill him and tell everyone after he was an Israeli spy if he peeped one peep.

[9]       The claimant became ostracized in his community and decided to leave Gaza permanently as he feared for his life. He applied for and obtained a Fulbright scholarship which allowed him to obtain all four permits required to leave Gaza. On [XXX] 2016, the claimants departed Gaza. The principal claimant was questioned for three hours at Erez cross point by Hamas security forces. The officer told him that he would do well not to return to Gaza.

[10]     The principal claimant completed his graduate studies in Kansas on 10th May 2018. He considered making an asylum claim in the US but did not do so because of what he refers to as the US president’s bigoted and racist comments towards Muslims, and personal encounters with racism in the US. The claimants decided to seek asylum in Canada and entered Canada on [XXX] 2018, shortly before the expiry of their status in the US.

[11]     The principal claimant fears that he will be killed or harmed by Hamas as a secular western educated liberal who values freedom of thought and speech. Particularly as he has been critical of Hamas already and he’s experienced threats and violence from them or persons allegedly acting in concert with them.

[12]     In order to find that the claimants are Convention refugees or persons in need of protection, I must find if there’s sufficient credible or trustworthy evidence to determine that there is a serious possibility that they would be persecuted on Convention ground, or that on a balance of probabilities there is substantial grounds to believe they would be tortured or at risk of losing their life or being subjected to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they return to the Palestinian occupied territory.

[13]     Additionally, there must be clear and convincing evidence that state authorities there cannot adequately protect them from this persecution or risk. Furthermore, there must not be another place within the Palestinian occupied territory where they could live safely and where it would be reasonable to do so under the circumstances. I find that the claimants are Convention refugees on the grounds of political opinion as perceived traitors or enemies of Hamas.

[14]     The determinative issues, in this case, are identity and credibility. Where stateless persons of multiple countries of former habitual residence they must demonstrate on a balance of probabilities that there is a serious possibility that they would be persecuted than any country of former habitual residence, and that they cannot return to any other country of former habitual residence where they would not face persecution.

[15]     The claimants’ identity as stateless former habitual residents of Gaza is established by their testimony, and the supporting documentation filed including their Palestinian authority passports, certified copies of which are on file.

[16]     Although the claimant resided in the US for one to two years while the principal claimant completed his graduate studies there, and the principal claimant also briefly studied in Egypt prior to marriage, I find that neither country is a country of former habitual residence for the purpose of this analysis. Notwithstanding this, the claimants are unable to return to either the US or Egypt where the claimants only possessed temporary status that has since expired.

[17]     When a claimant swears to the truth of certain allegations this creates a presumption that those allegations are true unless there’s a reason to doubt their truthfulness. I found the principal claimant to be a credible witness. He testified in a straightforward manner and there were no material inconstancies in his testimony or contradictions between his testimony and the other evidence before me that have not been explained. He provided a spontaneous and detailed account of his former employment in Gaza on community and youth development issues, and was able to articulate his thoughts on the Hamas lead government in Gaza, Hamas affiliated military camps for youth and children and related challenges and obstacles affecting youth in Gaza in a manner that suggested that these were deeply held and considered views.

[18]     The claimants supported their claim with considerable probative and reliable documents including but not limited to documentary evidence of the principal claimant’s employment and volunteer experience with non-profit and human rights originations in Gaza. Evidence of his social media posts on Facebook in which he is clearly criticizing Hamas and personal letters of support.

[19]     Although the claimants did not make a refugee claim in the US, I do not draw a negative inference from this. The claimants did not delay in leaving Gaza considering that logistical difficulties involved in exiting the territory. The claimants maintained valid temporary resident status in the US for the duration of their stay. They applied for refugee protection promptly upon their arrival in Canada. Moreover, as per case law, the mere fact that the claimant failed to seek asylum in the US is not fatal to their claim.

[20]     The claimants’ fear of persecution in the Palestinian occupied territory is supported by the objective evidence. Firstly, on the issue of the treatment of perceived or actual political opponents of Hamas, according to a report by Human Rights Watch in the NDP:

Since it seized control of Gaza in June 2007, Hamas authorities have harassed critics and abused those in its custody. Hamas authorities have also carried out 25 executions since they took control in Gaza in June 2017 including six in 2017. Following trials that lacked appropriate due process protections and courts in Gaza have sentenced 117 people to death according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

[21]     Similarly, according to the United States Department of State report on Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza for 2018:

Human right issues with respect to Hamas include: reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, reports of systematic torture, reports of arbitrary detention, political prisoners, arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family and home, undue restrictions on free expression the press and the internet, including the detention of journalists, censorship and site blocking, substantial inference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association. Significant restrictions on freedom of movement including the requirement of exit permits, restrictions on political participation as there has been no national election since 2006. Corruption unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers, threats of violence motivated by anti-systematism and the use of forced or compulsory child labour.

[22]     Similarly, according to the 2018 Freedom House report for the Gaza Strip:

Hamas continues to persecute critical journalists and other perceived opponents during the year and persisted in its application of the death penalty without due process.

[23]     On the issue of the forced recruitment and mistreatment of children, according to a report from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade titled, “DFAT Thematic Report: Palestinian Territories” for March 2017:

Statistics on forced recruitment in Gaza are not available and it is difficult to build a complete picture of the prevalence and nature of this practice. However, Hamas runs summer camps for schoolchildren and based on various reports, these camps involve some level of militant training, including weapons handling and lessons on Hamas doctrine but do not result in forced recruitment. About 100,000 children attend Hamas’ summer camps; 50,000 attend the alternative camps run by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but the majority, around 250,000, attend the more popular UNRWA summer camps.

[24]     However, according to the latest US DOS report already referenced:

There are reports Hamas trained children as combatants as recently as 2018. Hamas reportedly did not enforce child labour laws in Gaza either and reportedly encouraged children to work gathering gravel and scrap metal from bombed sites to sell to recycling merchants and increased recruitment of youth for tunnel digging activities.

[25]     During the hearing, the principal claimant also expressed his fear that his daughter will face discrimination accumulatively amounting to persecution or gender-based violence as a female in Gaza.

[26]     According to a UN report titled, “Gaza Ten Years Later”:

Over the past decade, Gaza has also seen rising levels of gender­ based violence, and child protection violations. While accurate reporting on these issues remains difficult, a recent report suggests that more than 148,000 women in Gaza are exposed to gender­ based violence. Between 2011 and 2014 UNRWA identified 3,160 survivors of gender-based violence in Gaza and provided a range of different services. Moreover, the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling has documented 27 killings of women and girls in 2014, 15 cases in 2015 and 18 cases in the first eight months of 2016.

[27]     On a balance of probabilities, I find that the principal claimant genuinely holds views and has undertaken paid or unpaid activities that make him a perceived political opponent of Hamas. Including his opposition to the recruitment of children and youth by Hamas that on the basis of his testimony which I have found to be reliable. He has already been the target of both official and unofficial targeting by Hamas and its affiliates as a result of these views and actions. Country documents show that he faces more than a mere possibility of persecution on the basis of a Convention ground on this basis.

[28]     Leaving aside the question of whether or not his wife and daughter have a well-founded fear of persecution solely on the basis of gender-based violence and discrimination in Gaza an allegation that finds some support in the country documents, I find that they too have a well-founded fear of persecution by virtue of their dependence on the principal claimant. The principal claimant’s daughter is a five-year-old girl.

[29]     I find that there’s no — there is no adequate expectation of state protection for the claimants and they have rebutted the presumption of state protection. In this case, the agent of harm is the de facto state in Gaza which is effectively run by Hamas.

[30]     Additionally, I find that the claimants do not have a viable flight alternative — internal flight alternative as relocation is effectively impossible without alerting the de facto authorities in Gaza. Furthermore, the current severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the West Bank will make internal relocation extremely difficult for many. I find that it would not be possible for the claimants to safely relocate to the West Bank or within the Palestinian territory.

[31]     Therefore, having considered all of the evidence before me, I determine that the claimants are Convention refugees on the basis of the grounds enumerated above. Your claims are approved. Congratulations.

— DECISION CONCLUDED

Categories
All Countries Venezuela

2019 RLLR 115

Citation: 2019 RLLR 115
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 7, 2019
Panel: Jennifer Ellis
Country: Venezuela
RPD Number: VB8-02306
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000212-000220


This unedited transcript constitutes the member’s written reasons for decision.

— PROCEEDINGS COMMENCED

[1]       PRESIDING MEMBER: This is a decision of the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board in the joined claims of a family from Venezuela. The principal claimant is [XXX]. The associated claimants are [XXX], spouse of the principal claimant, and [XXX], minor child of the principal claimant. This transcript constitutes the Member’s written reasons for decision, as the decision was not rendered orally at a hearing.

[2]       The hearing was held via videoconference on December 11, 2018. The claimants, their counsel, and the interpreter were all in Calgary, while I presided over the hearing from Vancouver. At the start of the hearing the principal claimant was designated as the representative for the minor claimant. The claimants are citizens of Venezuela and are seeking refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       Allegations: The detailed allegations of the claimants are set out in their respective basis of claim forms and can be summarized as follows.

[4]       The principal claimant is a citizen of Venezuela and no other country. The associated claimants are citizens of both Venezuela and Italy.  The principal claimant fears returning to Venezuela because of his opposition to the current regime and his status as a member of an opposition party, namely, the Alianza Bravo Pueblo. The associated claimants fear returning to Venezuela as the family members of the principal claimant.

[5]       Determination: I find that the principal claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Act on the grounds of his political opinion. I find that the two associated claimants [XXX] and [XXX] are neither Convention refugees nor persons in need of protection.

[6]       Analysis: Identity: The identity of the principal claimant as a citizen of Venezuela is established by his testimony and the identification documents on file, namely, his valid Venezuelan passport.  The identity of the minor claimant as a citizen of both Venezuela and Italy is established by the documents on file, namely, his valid Venezuelan and Italian passport. The same is true for the adult associated claimant; I find that her identity is established as a citizen of both Venezuela and Italy based on the documents on file, namely, her valid Venezuelan and Italian passports.

[7]       Exclusion: It’s the claimant’s evidence that he resided with his wife and son in Chile from January 2017 to October 2017 and that they all had valid status while there. Nevertheless, I do not find that exclusion pursuant to Article 1E of the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees is engaged. The claimant testified that they only ever had temporary status in Chile and their application for permanent status was rejected in October 2017. I have found the claimant’s evidence on this point to be both straightforward and spontaneous. While they do not have any documentary evidence confirming the rejection of this application, I also have no reason to disbelieve the claimant’s testimony on this point. As such, I accept that at the time the claimants came to Canada in [XXX] 2018 they no longer had any status in Chile.

[8]       Countries of reference: In order for a claim for refugee protection to be successful the Act requires that the claimant must establish a claim against each of their countries of nationality.

[9]       Principal claimant; although there is no evidence before me that the principal claimant is an Italian citizen, I must nevertheless determine whether Italy is a country of reference with respect to his claim.

[10]     Indeed, the term “countries of nationality” in Section 96(a) of the Act includes potential countries of nationality. Where citizenship in another country is available the claimant is expected to make attempts to acquire it and will be denied refugee status if it is shown that it is within his or her power to acquire that other citizenship.  Consequently, a person who is able to obtain citizenship in another country by complying with mere formalities is not entitled to avail him or herself of protection in Canada.

[11]     The issue of the right to citizenship was explored by the Federal Court of Appeal in Williams v. Canada 2005 FCA 126. In this decision the Court of Appeal found that refugee protection will be denied where the evidence shows at the time of the hearing that is within control of the claimant to acquire the citizenship of a particular country with respect to which the claimant has no well-founded fear of persecution. The Court of Appeal explained that the appropriate test is whether it is in the control of the person concerned to acquire the citizenship of a country with respect to which he has no well­ founded fear of persecution, if yes the claim will be denied. In other words, I must consider whether it is in the claimant’s control to acquire Italian citizenship.

[12]     I have found a number of documents contained in the national documentation package for Italy to be of great assistance to this issue. For example, Item 3.2 of the national documentation package is a document from the United States Library of Congress entitled “Citizenship Pathways and Border Protection Italy” and Item 3.4 is a European University Institute document from 2013 which also directly addresses citizenship law in Italy. According to these two documents there are only four ways in which Italian citizenship is automatically acquired, the first is by dissent from an Italian citizen, by birth in the Italian territory, by judicial recognition, affiliation, by an Italian citizen while the child is a minor, and through adoption. In other words, individuals are not able to acquire Italian citizenship automatically simply by nature of having an Italian citizen spouse.

[13]     Indeed, the document at 3.2 of the national documentation package goes on to explain that the foreign spouse of an Italian citizen may acquire Italian citizenship subject to a number of requirements, including the somewhat vague absence of impediments concerning the security of the republic. In other words, there is some discretion at the hands of Italian authorities.

[14]     As is explained in the Federal Court’s decision in Khan v. Canada 2008 FC 583, if the circumstances are not within a claimant’s control and the authorities are not compelled to grant citizenship the Board should not consider how the authorities might exercise their discretion.

[15]     Additionally, I note that the Federal Court has also held that a claimant is not required to demonstrate that it was more likely than not if they applied that they would be granted citizenship. See, for example, Hua Ma v. Canada 2009 FC 779.

[16]     Based on the evidence before me, I find that Italy is not a country of reference with respect to the principal claimant. As such, I will only be considering his claim against Venezuela.

[17]     Associated claimants: As citizens of Italy and Venezuela the associated claimants must establish a claim against both of those countries of nationality in order to obtain refugee protection. Neither of the associated claimants advanced a claim against Italy. Nonetheless, I have examined all of the evidence before me to determine whether or not the associated claimants satisfy the requirements under Section 96 or 97(1) of the Act as against Italy and I conclude they do not. Accordingly, it is unnecessary to examine the risk they face in Venezuela and their claims for refugee protection must be rejected.

[18]     For the remainder of these reasons I turn to the claim of the principal claimant alone.

[19]     Credibility: Pursuant to the Moldonado principle it is presumed that sworn testimony is true unless there is sufficient reason to doubt its trustworthiness. I have found the claimants to be credible witnesses and I believe what they have alleged. The adult claimants’ testified in a straightforward manner and did not exaggerate in any way. They were clear when they did not know the answer to my questions and appropriately asked for clarification when necessary. There were no relevant inconsistencies in their testimony or contradictions between their testimony and the other evidence before me.

[20]     During the hearing the principal claimant was asked a number of questions about his membership with the Alianza Bravo Pueblo, the ABP. He explained that he became a member of the party because he identified with the party’s founder and leader Antonio Ledezma. He explained that the ABP was a new group founded in 2000 that has fought for human rights and democracy in Venezuela since its inception.

[21]     The IRB document found at Item 4.10 of the national documentation package, namely, VEN104851, confirms that the Alianza Bravo Pueblo is a political party in Venezuela that seeks to improve public governance through democratic processes and is focussed on developing social justice, freedom, peace, solidarity, equality of opportunities and progress. This document confirms that the ABP was founded by Anthony Ledezma in 2000 and also indicates that party members have been subject to politically motivated arrests in Venezuela.

[22]     With respect to his specific role in the ABP, the principal claimant testified that he worked as a [XXX] and [XXX]. He participated in various rallies and demonstrations in opposition to the government over a period of several years. Sometimes his participation involved driving protestors to different places and bringing supplies to protests.

[23]     I note that at pages 11 and 12 of Exhibit 5 the claimant has provided a letter from the ABP confirming his membership with the party since 2005 and setting out the details of his activities as a human rights defender and activist. He’s described as a [XXX] and a [XXX] for the rescue of the democratic system. This letter is printed on party letterhead and has been affixed with the party stamp. I have no reason to believe that this document is not genuine.

[24]     In addition, the claimant has provided a number of support letters from friends and activists attesting to the claimant’s vocal opposition to the current regime in Venezuela. In my view, these letters contain what are essentially witness statements relating to a number of the attacks that the claimant experienced while engaging in political activities. These letters are all included in Exhibit 5.

[25]     For example, letters found at pages 25 through 29 and 33 through 36 confirm that the claimant was attacked and threatened by government supporters on May 18, 2016. A medical report documenting head injuries sustained by the claimant on that date can be found at pages 13 through 15 of Exhibit 5.

[26]     There’s also a support letter at pages 16 through 20 which corroborates the claimant’s evidence that he was again attacked on December 10, 2017 by a number of collectivos because of his political activities. A second medical report dated March 5, 2018 corroborates the claimant’s evidence that he again suffered head injuries from an attack at the hands of the same group of government supporters on this date.

[27]     The IRB’s document VEN106030 found at Item 4.6 of the NDP discusses the pro­ government groups known as collectivos and specifically states that they function like gangs that are integrated into the state’s policing apparatus.

[28]     Furthermore, a November 2017 report by Human Rights Watch found at Item 2.10 of the national documentation package documents the way that these groups are responsible for “violent attacks or detentions that appear to be motivated by loyalty to the government”.

[29]     In addition, I note that there is a document contained in Exhibit 5 at pages 41 through 46, the title of which has been translated as “Request for an Arrest Warrant” and which has been prepared by the national prosecutor’s office in Venezuela. This document, which is dated September 22, 2018, appears to be requesting that the authority be given for the principal claimant to be arrested on the grounds that he has been engaged in war propaganda and messages of national hate.

[30]     The claimant clarified during the hearing that this document was obtained by his sister in Venezuela with the assistance of a lawyer after state officials came looking for him at his parents’ home following his flight from the country. The claimant testified that he was unsure as to whether or not an arrest warrant was ever issued against him after this request was submitted by the prosecutor’s office but he indicated that it frightened him nonetheless.

[31]     According to a January 2018 Human Rights Watch report found at Item 2.3 of the national documentation package, while authorities repeatedly arrest and prosecute political opponents they also bring charges or threaten to bring criminal charges against protestors and even many regular Venezuelans simply for criticizing the government.

[32]     Similarly, the Freedom House report found at Item 2.4 of the NDP indicates that Venezuelans democratic institutions have deteriorated since 1999 but conditions have grown sharply worse in recent years due to a concentration of power in the executive and harsher crackdowns on the opposition.

[33]     Indeed, the U.S. Department of State human rights report found at Item 2.1 confirms that the law criminalized criticism of the government.

[34]     Based on the claimant’s own evidence and the supporting documentation he has provided, as well as the independent country evidence contained in the national documentation package, I accept that he was an active member of the Alianza Bravo Pueblo when he was residing in Venezuela; that he received a number of threats and suffered a number of physical attacks as a result of his political views, and that he continues to be opposed to the current regime in Venezuela.

[35]     Additionally, I accept that the request for an arrest warrant was a tool used by the government to intimidate the claimant to cease his political activities and that his political activism would have been protected under the Charter and would not have constituted a crime in Canada under the Criminal Code.

[36]     Accordingly, I find that the claimant is not excluded under Article l(f)(b) of the UN Convention.

[37]     Subjective fear:  While some of the claimant’s actions could be viewed as evidence of a lack of subjective fear, the claimant has provided reasonable explanations for each of them.

[38]     For example, I note that the claimant was attacked by government supporters on May 18, 2016. During this altercation the attackers advised the principal claimant that they knew who he was, where he lived, and that he had a wife and a son. He was threatened that if he continued on with his opposition work his family would be harmed.

[39]     In his basis of claim form he explained that as a consequence of this attack his wife and son travelled to Canada for a few months beginning in [XXX] 2016. During the claimant’s testimony he explained that he wanted his wife and son to leave earlier but given the challenges they had in scheduling flights because of the current crisis in Venezuela they were unable to do so.

[40]     While they awaited their departure from Venezuela, the associated claimants did not leave the family home even to purchase groceries, and the principal claimant himself kept a very low profile. It’s the claimant’s evidence that he remained hopeful that the political and humanitarian situation in Venezuela would improve and that the opposition groups would be successful in their endeavours against the current regime. Indeed, he continued fighting for what he believed in because of his deeply held beliefs regarding the importance of standing up to injustice. After several months of laying low the claimant continued his opposition activities as he felt compelled to do.

[41]     I also note that the claimants travelled to the United States for one month beginning in [XXX] 2016 and that they then went to Chile for approximately nine months after that. They did not seek refugee protection in either country and ultimately returned to Venezuela at the end of [XXX] 2017.

[42]     With respect to the United States, it was the claimant’s evidence that they sought legal advice but were advised that seeking asylum was very risky given the current administration.

[43]     While the claimants did not seek protection in Chile they did obtain temporary work permits and made an application for permanent status. This application was denied and the claimants returned to Venezuela. It’s the claimant’s evidence that they returned with the hope of finding a calmer Venezuela and indeed they had no problems until December 2017.

[44]     I note that following the attack suffered by the principal claimant in December 2017 he and the associated claimants moved to his parents’ home approximately 30 kilometres away. Again the claimant remained hopeful, if not somewhat naïve, and when things appeared to calm down he and his family moved back to the family home a month later.

[45]     It was not until March 5, 2018 that the claimant was again attacked, this time with a gun to his head in front of both his wife and his son. It was then that the claimant accepted that he was no longer safe in Venezuela and the family left as soon as they were able in [XXX] 2018.

[46]     Under the circumstances, I find that the claimants’ explanations are reasonable. The claimants had valid status in the United States while they were there and did not face an imminent risk of being removed to Venezuela. The claimants also took steps to obtain permanent status in Chile albeit through an economic route and were unsuccessful. Throughout this time, however, they remained hopeful that the situation in Venezuela would improve. Indeed, the commitment of the principal claimant to his political values and to the ABP were what drove him to continue fighting for change despite the risks. I do not find that the claimant’s failure to claim elsewhere or his return to Venezuela to be indicative of a lack of subjective fear.

[47]     In addition, given their personal circumstances and the current anti-refugee rhetoric and realities in the United States, I find that the claimants’ decision to come to Canada to find a more permanent solution by making a refugee claim to be consistent with a subjective fear.

[48]     As such, I find that the principal claimant has established his subjective fear of persecution on a balance of probabilities.

[49]     Objectively well-founded fear: I find that the country conditions, in light of the principal claimant’s personal profile, demonstrate that his fear of persecution in Venezuela is well­ founded. The principal claimant has established, on a balance of probabilities, that he holds opinions contrary to the current regime in Venezuela and that he has expressed these opinions publicly on a number of occasions. Based on the available country condition evidence, I find he does face a serious possibility of persecution in Venezuela by reason of his political opinion.

[50]     In addition to the documents I have already cited, I note that Item 1.4 of the national documentation package, which is a background and policy report prepared by the United States Congressional Research Service, indicates that Venezuela remains in a deep political crisis under the authoritarian rule of President Nicolas Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Despite his unpopularity, President Maduro has successfully used the courts, security forces, and electoral council to repress the opposition.

[51]     This Human Rights Watch report also documents that tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Venezuela to protest against the government controlled Supreme Court’s attempt to usurp the powers of the country’s legislative branch in April 2017. Demonstrations quickly spread throughout the country and continued for months fueled by widespread discontent with the authoritarian practices of President Nicolas Maduro and the humanitarian crisis that has devastated the country under his watch. According to the report, the government responded with widespread violence and brutality against anti­ government protestors and detainees and has denied detainees due process rights. While it was not the first crackdown on dissent under Maduro the scope and severity of their oppression in 2017 reached levels unseen in Venezuela in recent memory.

[52]     The 2017 U.S. Department of State Human Rights report found in the national documentation package as Item 2.1 explains that democratic governance and human rights deteriorated dramatically during the year as the result of a campaign of the Maduro administration to consolidate its power. Security forces and armed pro-government paramilitary groups known as collectivos, at times, use excessive force against protestors.

[53]     According to the report, credible non-governmental organizations documented indiscriminate household raids, arbitrary arrests, and the use of torture to deter protestors. The government arrested thousands of individuals and tried hundreds of civilians in military tribunals. The government routinely block signals, interfered with operations, or shutdown privately owned television, radio, and other media outlets.

[54]     In my view, the principal claimant has established that he does indeed have an objectively well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of his political opinion.

[55]     State protection: As the state is the agent of persecution, or at least is heavily complicit in such acts of persecution, it is clear that state protection would not be reasonably forthcoming to individuals in the position of the claimants. As such, I find that there is no state protection available to the principal claimant were he to return to Venezuela.

[56]     Internal flight alternative: The independent country documentation also shows that the Venezuelan authorities have effective control of the country’s entire territory. Therefore, there is nowhere in Venezuela where the principal claimant could go without a serious possibility of persecution. He therefore has no viable internal flight alternative available to him.

[56]     Conclusion: For the foregoing reasons, I conclude that the principal claimant is a Convention refugee and I therefore accept his claim. I further conclude that the two associated claimants are neither Convention refugees nor persons in need of protection and I therefore reject their claims.

— DECISION CONCLUDED

(signed)           Jennifer Ellis

January 7, 2019

Categories
Afghanistan All Countries

2019 RLLR 114

Citation: 2019 RLLR 114
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 20, 2019
Panel: Becky Chan
Country: Afghanistan
RPD Number: VB7-05815
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000206-000211


— DECISION AND REASONS BY THE MEMBER

[1]       PRESIDING MEMBER: This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division in the claim of [XXX]. You claim refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case and I am ready to render my decision orally. Written reasons will be provided to you and your counsel. The written reasons will be a transcript of what I’m saying now.

[3]       I find that you are a Convention refugee as you have a well-founded fear of persecution.

[4]       I will summarize your allegations as follows. You are a 25 year old male citizen of Afghanistan. You are originally from Ghazni but you resided in Kabul most recently with your family. Your father was a [XXX] for American residents and businesses in Kabul; however, he quit his job in 2014 because the work was risky and dangerous.

[5]       You joined the [XXX] after you completed high school. In 2013, you attended [XXX] from June to October 2013. You first worked as a [XXX] in Sharana, Paktika Province for about one year and then in October 2014 you were transferred to Kabul where you worked in the [XXX] in Kabul.

[6]       You received a number of threats from someone who identified himself as [XXX] (ph) because you worked for the [XXX] and your father also worked for what the caller called the infidel government. You received a number of phone calls in 2015 when- sorry, 2014 in Kabul. You changed your number. You told your commander in the [XXX] about the threats after receiving the first two calls. Your commander dismissed your complaint as not being very serious.

[7]       The caller threatened you and your family. Your family moved from Ghazni to Kabul as they felt they would be more safe there.

[8]       In early 2016 – sorry, the caller at certain times demanded that you and your family move back to Ghazni to repent for your sins and to work for the Taliban. You changed your phone number again and changed your SIM card.

[9]       You and your family moved to four different residents in Darul Aman neighbourhood of Kabul to avert risks of harm from the Taliban.

[10]     You left Afghanistan on [XXX], 2017 to go the United States for some training. Sometime after you went to the United States your family received a letter dated August 16th, 2017 from the Taliban in Ghazni at their residence in Kabul. The Taliban said that they knew that you’d gone to the United States and threatened to punish you for that if you ever returned to Afghanistan.

[11]     You entered Canada on [XXX], 2017 by eluding a Port of Entry and you made a refugee claim in September 2017.

[12]     I find that you have established your identity as an Afghan citizen through your passport, tazkira and school documents which are in Exhibit 4.

[13]     I find that you are a credible witness. The Federal Court of Appeal stated in Maldonado that when a claimant swears that certain facts are true this creates a presumption that they are true unless there is a valid reason to doubt their truthfulness.

[14]     I have found you to be a credible witness and I therefore believe what you have alleged in support of your claim. You testified in a straightforward manner and there were no material inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me that has not been satisfactorily explained, either before the hearing or during the hearing.

[15]     You have provided documentary evidence to support your claim. I find that you have established that you were a [XXX] in the [XXX]. Your testimony was spontaneous and detailed. You provided documents to corroborate your work as a [XXX]. In Exhibit 4 you provided your [XXX] document and an identity document from the [XXX] in the United States to show that you did training there.

[16]     You have provided a personnel transfer document in Exhibit 7 corroborating your transfer from Paktika Province to Kabul. Your US visa also indicates that you were a [XXX]. In Exhibit 6 the Minister has provided your visa application and this also supports your employment as a [XXX] in the [XXX].

[17]     You have also provided -you have provided some documents to corroborate your father’s employment in the [XXX] field. You provided his training certificates that your father received for completing training on [XXX]. You have provided a letter your family received from the Taliban and rental agreements to corroborate other elements of your claim.

[18]     I have also considered your interview with CBSA regarding your work as a [XXX] and find that your evidence generally has been consistent with that interview as well.

[19]     I noted that in Exhibit 16 the Minister has provided a letter and indicated that CBSA did not refer you to an inadmissibility hearing after investigating your work as a [XXX]. They found that you were responsible for [XXX] to prison facilities. You did not generally deal with prisoners directly and there was insufficient evidence in the Minister’s view to find that you were inadmissible or excluded. There is no other evidence before me that would lead me to a different conclusion so I do not find that article 1(f)(a) exclusion is relevant to this claim.

[20]     I find that there is an objective basis to your claim. The UK Country Information Guide on Afghanistan NDP item 1.16 cites a variety of sources that conclude that government officials and civil servants and civilians associated with or perceived as supporting the government face significant risks of intimidation and targeted violence by Taliban and other insurgents.

[21]     This assessment is consistent with the UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines which state that security forces, particularly the Afghan National Police continue to be the object of targeted campaigns from anti-government elements including the Taliban. It states that both ALP – Afghan Local Police – and ANP officers have been targeted both on-duty and off-duty. AGEs are also reported to target officers of other police forces in Afghanistan as well as former members of the Afghan – the ANDSF.

[22]     I find that the harm you face, which includes death, bodily injury and the threat of these things, are sufficiently serious to constitute persecution.

[23]     I also find that your profile in and of itself is sufficient to ground your refugee claim. I find that your fear of persecution has a nexus to the Convention ground of political opinion or imputed political opinion as the Taliban and perhaps other insurgents view you as being aligned to the Afghan government as a [XXX].

[24]     I find that state protection is not available to you in Afghanistan. The documentary evidence before me illustrates that state protection mechanisms in Afghanistan are ineffective in protecting persons with your profile from harm. The UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines, NDP item 1.5 indicate that the rule of law is particularly weak in Afghanistan and the government has a limited capacity to respond to anti-government elements given the number and the scope of attacks by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

[25]     The Guidelines state that the conflict continues to affect all parts of the country since the government’s decision to defend population centers and strategic rural areas, fighting between AGEs and the Afghan government has intensified. AGEs are reported to have engaged in an increasing number of attacks deliberately targeting civilians particularly suicide, IED and complex attacks. AGEs continue to carry out large-scale attacks in Kabul and other cities and to consolidate their control across rural areas. Concerns have been expressed about the ANDSF’s capability and effectiveness in ensuring security and stability across Afghanistan.

[26]     The Guidelines further state that even where the legal framework provides for the protection of human rights, the implementation of Afghanistan’s commitments under national and international law to promote and protect these rights in practice frequently remains a challenge.

[27]     Afghan governance and the adherence to the rule of law are perceived to be as particularly weak. High levels of corruption challenges to effective governance and a climate of impunity are all reported by observers as factors that weaken the rule of law and undermine the ability of the state to provide protection from human rights violations.

[28]     Corruption is reported to affect many parts of the state apparatus on the national, provincial and local levels. Afghan citizens reportedly have to pay bribes to access public services such as to the provincial governor’s office and the municipal governor’s office and the custom’s offices. Within the police, corruption is reported to be endemic as is the abuse of power and extortion.

[29]     The justice system is similarly reported to suffer from widespread corruption. The most recent US Department of State report on Afghanistan NDP item 2.1 observes that widespread disregard for the rule of law and official impunity for those who committed human rights abuses were serious problems.

[30]     I find that state protection would not be reasonably forthcoming to you in Afghanistan. The presumption of state protection has been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

[31]     I have also considered your failure to claim in the United States. You went there for training. You explained that you did not claim there because you understood that there was an understanding that you were to return to Afghanistan after training and you also believed, based on anecdotal information, that the US refugee system was quite slow and it would take a very, very long time for your claim to be heard and you are very concerned about the safety of your family and you did not want to wait for a very long time to re­ unite with your family.

[32]     I find that your explanation generally is reasonable and I do not draw an negative inference based on your failure to claim in the United States.

[33]     I find that no viable internal flight alternative or IFA exists for you in Afghanistan. You were living in Kabul prior to leaving Afghanistan. Kabul is considered to be one of the safer parts of Afghanistan especially for lower profile targets. However, given the Taliban’s extensive networks and the tribal and interconnecting nature of Afghan society, I do not find that there is a viable internal flight alternative for you in Afghanistan.

[34]     I have considered a Response to Information Request, NDP item 4.1 about internal relocation in Afghanistan. One source, a professor, explained that the Taliban may be able to find a person who relocates to a different area and that they have been successful in doing so particularly when targeting their well-known or well-positioned opponents.

[35]     Another source states that the Taliban generally has the capability to track individuals through the use of formal and informal communication networks to obtain information about a person’s whereabouts. Various sources in this RIR describe the tribal and interconnected nature of Afghan society. People, especially in rural areas, are extremely perceptive of their environments and know when a new person comes into the village or travels through it.

[36]     According to the professor, it is more difficult to track people who have moved into urban environments, but even there the Taliban have spies and members who can gather considerable information. Tribal networks still operate in urban areas and he gives the example of the Taliban infiltrating and obtaining information from large refugee camps near Kabul.

[37]     Afghans are a tribal people and this allows them to, in part, know the circumstances of the people in their tribe or ethno-linguistic group. This is obviously easy to do at the local, district, and provincial level of their home locality but because of extended families or other dynamics one’s identity is often hard to hide even when an Afghan leaves their home locality.

[38]     Accordingly, I find that you do not have an internal flight alternative in Afghanistan.

[39]     For the foregoing reasons, I find that you are a Convention refugee and I therefore accept your claim.

—PROCEEDINGS CONCLUDED

Categories
All Countries Djibouti

2019 RLLR 113

Citation: 2019 RLLR 113
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 8, 2019
Panel: Miryam Milgot
Country: Djibouti
RPD Number: VB7-01166
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000201-000205


— DECISION

[1]       PRESIDING MEMBER: This is the decision in file VB7-01166. It is the claim of Mr. [XXX]. The hearing took place on July 8, 2019, and the claimant was represented by counsel, Mr. Odaro Omonuwa. This was a return from the Refugee Appeal Division as the claimant had previously been denied on his refugee claim by a differently constituted Refugee Protection Division panel back in 2017.

[2]       I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case and I’m ready to render my decision orally. When you receive a written form of these Reasons, they may be edited for spelling, syntax and grammar and references to the applicable case law and documentary evidence may also be included.

[3]       The claimant, Mr. [XXX], claims to be a citizen of Djibouti and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

DETERMINATION

[4]       I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee as the claimant does have a well-founded fear of persecution on a Convention ground in Djibouti. The nexus is his political opinion as a [XXX] of the RADDE Party, RADDE being the Rally for Action Democracy and Ecological Development and his claim was established on a sur place ground as the testimony focused entirely on the question of his political activity since leaving Djibouti. The testimony did not examine the allegations as they relate to the claimant’s life before he left Djibouti for Canada. The main issue is credibility.

Identity

[5]       The claimant’s national identity has been established by the testimony and the supporting documentation filed and entered in these proceedings. The current passport is on file, along with other documents. I am satisfied of the cm’s identity.

Credibility

[6]       I found the claimant to be a credible witness. He was able to reasonably explain why he had not amended his Basis of Claim Form sooner in his process. His explanations had to do with the lack of support that he had received up until very recently and that focused on the interpretation help he had at the time of the filing of his Basis of Claim Form, the limited and casual help that he had from a friend after that and what he described as deficient legal assistance up until recently, when he retained Counsel Omonuwa.

[7]       The three-page Basis of Claim Form amendment was accepted today and I note in finding that the claimant’s explanations were credible that although some of the amendments were material to the allegations, such as a specific detention in Djibouti or how the claimant was able to leave the airport. Others were much less material, such as the correct date of birth of his parents or the vast number of siblings, only two of whom play a part in his Basis of Claim Form.

[8]       I find that the claimant was credibility established that he is a [XXX] of the RADDE group. He testified in a manner consistent with that. At Exhibit 5 he has provided documentary evidence in support of this. He was able to spontaneously testify on what has happened to the President of the RADDE in recent years and I note that his demeanour while testifying on these matters was notably relaxed, which went toward my favourable appreciation of his credibility. He did not have the body language of someone who was fabricating evidence.

[9]       I chose to focus on the sur place aspect of the claim as I found it was an efficient way of dealing with the vast material on file and the fact that this is now his second hearing and his insinuation that he was inadequately represented until he returned Counsel Omonuwa. His testimony on his political activities in Canada consisted of regular, but limited, due to restricted availability, and activities on Facebook where the claimant follows the posts of his political group and then shares those postings with other Djiboutians, who then to go on to share it with yet other people. The claimant was able to credibly explain who he shared this with and how he knew that they, in tum, shared it with others.

[10]     The claimant did not provide direct proof of his Facebook activities in this regard, but I believe him when he says he did post those opinions by sharing his party’s posts as I found that his testimony on this was credible and his testimony on the fact that he is terribly busy as he works an awful lot in order to support his six children and his wife, all of whom are in Djibouti, makes sense to me in terms of explaining why he has not taken the time to provide direct proof of this and I’ll note that his counsel, Mr. Omonuwa, had only been very recently retained, less than two weeks ago.

[11]     The claimant had already disclosed at Exhibit 8, page 2, a letter in support of his claim (indiscernible) submitting in his appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division. It is a letter in French issued by the Djiboutian Women for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The organization is UDDESC (phonetic) and it seems to add civil and political rights among those in its letterhead. The claimant did not embellish by alleging that he knew everything that was in this letter, but he was able to credibly testify as to how he obtained the letter, stating that he had contacted his group, the RADDE, who had given him the name of this person who, according to him, is in Belgium, and that he had contacted this person and the letter is consistent with the claimant’s oral testimony today and the letter does state that he is continuing his fight on social media. So I give weight to this letter in support of the claimant’s allegations. I note that the reason for the claimant’s lack of in-person political activity since he arrived in Canada has to do with the fact that his group, the RADDE, does not have an office or physical presence in Canada or North America and that is consistent with the objective country conditions evidence before me.

[12]     I find that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution based on the specific evidence of his Facebook activity and his continuing interest in the RADDE group. The monitoring of social media by Djiboutian authorities is established via the United States Department of State Report for Djibouti, which is at item 2.1 of the National Documentation Package, as well as in the Freedom House Report, which is at item 2.3 of the National Documentation Package, which is at Exhibit 3.

[13]     Both these documents also contribute to establishing the targeting and persecution of members of the opposition through the form of the surveillance of perceived opponents and harassment and arbitrary detention. Just to stay with the question of the monitoring of social media, the United States Department of State Report at item 2.1 explains that personnel from the security forces arrested two men in separate instances for posting (indiscernible) criticizing the government on Facebook and that one of them was arrested again for publishing a post on Facebook that criticized the government’s decision to mandate school uniforms for public schools.

[14]     This targeting of opposition members takes the form of seizing of passports or refusal to renew passports. The claimant testified that the president of his party had significant and enduring problems with his passport. That is borne out by the objective country conditions evidence and the Department of State Report on Human Rights also indicates that opposition members reported immigration officials refused to renew their passports and prevented them from boarding international flights.

[15]     In terms of the fate that awaits the claimant, I note that the Freedom House Report states that in April 2018, so relatively recently, a human rights defender, [XXX], who is also the [XXX] of an unrecognized opposition movement called Movement for Development and Liberty, was arbitrarily detained and had his passport confiscated and his home searched upon return U.N. related human rights activities abroad. I note that the claimant’s group, the RADDE, has also not been officially registered in Djibouti in spite of having attempted regularly to be registered and the authorities of Djibouti refuse to do so.

[16]     There is further evidence of relatively recent targeting of the RADDE group. For example, in the Freedom House Report it says that in March 2018 the police raided the headquarters of the unrecognised group RADDE, confiscated their equipment and arrested one person as the party was preparing non-violent demonstrations. The U.S. Department of State Report has stated government authorities refused to renew the passport of opposition leader of the RADDE.

[17]     The U.S. Department of State Report states that the Ministry of Interior refused to recognize three opposition political parties, among them the RADDE, and that members of those political parties were routinely arrested and detained for illegal political activity and that on March 23, 2018, authorities arrested a security guard at an annex of the RADDE opposition party and he was detained for one day and released with instructions  to evacuate the space and that the youth delegate for the RADDE Party, a man called [XXX] was arrested on October 21 and remained detained.

[18]     So I find that there’s objective country condition evidence to establish that, as a returnee, a supporter of the RADDE who has posted information on Facebook or forwarded or shared information on Facebook that is critical of the Djiboutian government and that was produced by a group that the government continues to refuse to recognize and the government regularly targets, the claimant has established a well-founded fear of persecution. I note that arbitrary arrests and detain amount to persecution, as is the confiscation of one’s passport or refusal to renew the passport as a result of political opinion.

[19]     That leads me to the last two questions, state protection and internal flight alternative. Given that the alleged agent of persecution is the state, I find that state protection in Djibouti would not be particularly forthcoming in this case and that the presumption of state protection is rebutted by the objective country conditions evidence. As the Djiboutian state is in control of the entire territory of Djibouti, I find that there is no internal flight alternative for the claimant and that he faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Djibouti.

[20]     In conclusion, having considered all of the evidence, I determine that there is a serious possibility that the claimant would be persecuted in Djibouti for his political opinion. The claimant was credible. Having come to this conclusion, I have not conducted further assessment under section 97(1). I conclude that the claimant is a Convention refugee and I therefore accept his claim.

— DECISION CONCLUDED

Categories
All Countries Ethiopia

2019 RLLR 111

Citation: 2019 RLLR 111
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 6, 2019
Panel: T. Cortes Diaz
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Daniel Tilahun Kebede
Country: Ethiopia
RPD Number: TB9-12020
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000193-000196


DECISION

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

[2]       I would like to add that when written decisions are issued, a written form of these reasons may be edited for spellings, syntax, and grammar and references to the applicable case law and documentary evidence may also be included.

[3]       So, the principal claimant [XXX] claims to be citizen of Ethiopia and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[4]       I find that you are a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the IRPA.

[5]       The claimant fears for her safety at the hands of Ethiopian authorities due to her perceived anti­ government profile and her profile as an Oromo.

[6]       She is perceived by the State to hold anti-State political views and view as a supporter of member of the OLF, Oromo Liberation Front. The details of your claims are documented in your Basis of Claim Form and were elaborated by you orally during the hearing.

IDENTITY:

[7]       Your personal and national identity as a national of Ethiopia has been established on a balance of probabilities through the passport on File at Exhibit 1 in your oral testimony.

CREDIBILITY:

[8]       With regard to credibility, I have found you to be a credible witness even though you were very general in the way that you answered the questions.

[9]       I found no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me. Given that I have found you to be a credible witness, I also accept what you have alleged in support of your claim including the following.

[10]     You work in Ethiopia in the [XXX] and you were subjected to discriminatory attitudes because of your ethnicity, reluctance to join the government party and for being a woman.

[11]     You were perceived as a supporter or member of the OLF, this is in part due to your friendship and closeness with Mr. [XXX] (ph), your reluctance join the EPRDF and your Oromo ethnicity.

[12]     Mr. [XXX] (ph) was incarcerated for his political beliefs and you visited him three times in the month of August in 2018.

[13]     Soon after you were detained, interrogated and beaten during these three interviews with the police where they accused you of having anti-government views. You were released with conditions to report to the police every week.

[14]     You also presented documents in support of your claim, I wont go through everything but includes the supporting letter your sister wrote, the letter from [XXX] (ph) and your [XXX] that attests your profession in [XXX], the harassment you experienced in Ethiopia and your incarceration.

[15]     Given your general credibility, I have no reasons to doubt the authenticity of the documentary evidence.

OBJECTIVE BASIS:

[16]     The overall objective evidence supports the claim. Items 1.5 and 2.1 among other indicate that in the past Ethiopian authorities regularly arrested, detained, and harassed persons including journalists in particular and their family members for criticising the government or for being supporters or perceived supporters of opposition groups.

[17]     In April 2018, there was a significant change in the political landscape of Ethiopia when Abiy Ahmed Ali became Prime Minister. Item 2.1 indicates that Abiy’s assumption of office was followed by positive changes in the human rights climate.

[18]     The government decriminalize political movements that had been accused of treason in the past, invited opposition leaders to return to the country and resume political activities, allow peaceful rallies and demonstration, enable the formation of new political parties and media outlets, continued steps to release thousands of political prisoner and <inaudible> provisions or repressive law.

[19]     However, objective evidence at Exhibit 4 indicated that despite these positive changes, there is not yet any fundamental and structural change in Ethiopian politics and the political atmosphere remains oppressive.

[20]     For example, we have the report from Ethiopian Human Rights Council dated July 18th, 2019, which your counsel submitted, which talks about the Ethiopian Government arresting and killing all suspects of having participate in the failed coup attempt which happened in the same year, 182 Ethiopians were arrested and many were killed as suspected of supporting this effort.

STATE PROTECTION:

[21]     With regard to State protection, given that the State is the agent of persecution, I find it will be objectively unreasonable for you to seek protection of the State in your circumstances.

[22]     With regard to internal flight alternative, given that the State is an agent of persecution with control over the entire country, I find there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Ethiopia and therefore a viable internal flight alternative does not exist.

[23]     My conclusion is having considered all the evidence I find there is a serious possibility that you will face persecution in Ethiopia.

[24]     I conclude that you are a Convention refugee and therefore I accept your claim. Welcome to Canada, thank you, counsel good work.

[25]     COUNSEL: Thank you.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Eritrea

2019 RLLR 109

Citation: 2019 RLLR 109
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 26, 2019
Panel: Avril Cardoso
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Medhat Mary Ghobrial
Country: Eritrea
RPD Number: TB8-28669
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000176-000182


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       The claimant, [XXX] is seeking refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Act1.

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The claimant’s allegations are fully set out in her Basis of Claim form (BOC). In summary she alleges a fear of persecution in Eritrea at the hands of the government due to her anti­government political opinion.

DETERMINATION

[3]       I find that the claimant is a Convention refugees pursuant to section 96 of the Act.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[4]       The claimant’s personal and national identity as a citizen of Eritrea has been established on a balance of probabilities by a true copy of her passport2 and national ID card.

Credibility

[5]       When a claimant swears that certain facts are true, this creates a presumption of truth unless there is valid reason to doubt their veracity.

[6]       The claimant’s testimony about her anti-government actual and imputed political opinion in Eritrea is consistent with her profile. His testimony was spontaneous and materially consistent with her narrative and supporting documents. The minor inconsistencies in the claimant’s evidence were not sufficient to overcome the credibility of her testimony and the documentary evidence.

The claimant and her spouse refused to join the ruling PFDJ party

[7]       The claimant testified that the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) which is the government in power sent her husband two letters in 2016 asking him to join the party. She said her husband refused and said he was too busy. The claimant said there was no further contact at that time from the PFDJ. She testified that in 2017, she was asked to join the women’s wing of the PFDJ. The claimant testified that the party sent her a letter. When asked why she did not provide a copy of the letter, she said she did not think about it.

[8]       I find that the claimant’s explanation is unreasonable. She is a business owner and the letter requiring her to join the PFDJ is regarding the central issue in her claim. However, the claimant’s testimony regarding the letters from the PFDJ sent to her and her husband is consistent with her BOC and there is no valid reason to doubt her credibility. Therefore corroborating documents are not necessary in these circumstances3.

The claimant is sought after by the PFDJ

[9]       The claimant testified that after she left Eritrea on [XXX] 2018 the authorities have searched her home, shut down her businesses and frozen her bank account. She testified that she obtained this information through her neighbour because her two daughters who were in Eritrea left the country in [XXX] 2018 and her husband was arrested on or about August 2018.

[10]     The claimant testified that the authorities left a document at her house. She said she asked her neighbour to send her a picture of the document but her neighbour did not do so and she believes her neighbour has since left Eritrea as she has been unable to contact her since approximately November 2018. When asked for any documents regarding her testimony that her bank account was frozen, she testified that she has nobody else left in Eritrea to contact and nobody is looking after her home and that her bank did not have a presence in Canada where she could obtain information about her bank account.

[11]     The claimant submitted a business licence and a letter from the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea in support of her testimony. The letter from the bank indicates that her bank balance as of May 17, 2018 was [XXX] Nakfa. In her BOC she stated that her bank account has a balance of [XXX] Nakfa. When asked to explain the discrepancy, the claimant said the letter was for her chequing account and her savings account had a balance [XXX] Nakfa. I find the claimant’s explanation unreasonable. The bank letter indicates that the account is a savings account not a chequing account. I draw a negative inference from the claimant’s explanation.

The claimant was of interest to the authorities prior to leaving Eritrea

[12]     The claimant testified that when she applied for an exit visa to leave Eritrea to come to Canada for her grandchild’s baptism, she was refused. She said her husband and his friends bribed immigration officials in Eritrea and she was able to obtain an exit visa on May 3, 2018 and she went to Kampala, Uganda to apply for a Canadian visa. This evidence demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that the claimant was of interest to the authorities as her exit visa request was denied and she left Eritrea through irregular means.

The claimant’s husband was detained since she left Eritrea

[13]     In the claimant’s BOC she states that one of her three daughters left Eritrea in 2014 after completing mandatory conscription and claimed refugee protection in Ethiopia. In her BOC she states that her husband was subsequently detained for six weeks at the Adi Abieto prison likely because the authorities believed he assisted his daughter in leaving Eritrea. She testified that after her neighbour told her that her husband had been arrested in approximately August 2018, her remaining two daughters managed to exit Eritrea when the border with Ethiopia opened in September 2018. The claimant submitted refugee documents in support of her testimony that all her three daughters are residing in Ethiopia. She testified that she has not been able to obtain any further information about her husband’s whereabouts. I find on a balance of probabilities that the claimant’s husband has been detained or arrested since she has come to Canada.

[14]     An unknown number of persons disappeared which are not investigated by the government. Nor are family members notified about the status of detainees and disappeared persons included those detained for political or religious beliefs4. Furthermore, although the law and unimplemented constitution prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, such acts remain widespread. Reasons for arrest include criticizing the government5.

Failure to claim in Uganda reasonably explained

[15]     The claimant arrived in Uganda on [XXX] 2018 and left Uganda for Canada on [XXX], 2018. When asked why she did not claim protection in Uganda, the claimant said she had a letter of invitation to come to Canada for her granddaughter’s baptism and went to Uganda to apply for her Canadian visa. I find the claimant’s explanation reasonable. She was in Uganda for a short period awaiting the issuance of her Canadian visa and she explained that she did not leave right away on [XXX] 2018 when her visa was issued as her ticket was for [XXX] 2018. There is no evidence that the Eritrean authorities were seeking the claimant at this time.

Delay in claiming for protection in Canada

[16]     After arriving in Canada on [XXX] 2018 the claimant filed for protection on October 31, 2018. When asked to explain the delay in claiming, the claimant testified that she had intended to return to Eritrea however once she heard her husband had been detained or arrested and that her house was searched and her bank accounts had been frozen, she decided to seek protection in Canada. I find the claimant’s explanation for the short delay to be reasonable and consistent with her other testimony.

Objective basis

[17]     Item 2.1 of the Eritrea NDP August 30, 20196 indicates that Eritrea is a highly centralized, authoritarian regime under the control of President Isaias Afwerki. The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), headed by the president, is the sole political party. Item 9.2 indicates that ordinary judicial procedures are not in place in Eritrea where the rule of law is absent. This document also indicates that in cases of a political nature summonses are not issued7.

[18]     The authorities are intolerant of dissent and those who fail to maintain loyalty to the one party ruling party risk imprisonment8.

[19]     Item 8.8 indicates that individuals forcefully repatriated are considered serious offenders and also traitors and are usually arrested upon return and face ill treatment to the point of torture. Item 14.2 indicates that persons who left Eritrea illegally could face interrogations, arrest and harsh punishments9.

[20]     The objective evidence is consistent with the claimant’s account of fearing persecution based on her political opinion in Eritrea.

[21]     I find that the claimant’s fear of persecution because of her actual and imputed anti­ government political opinion has an objective basis and is well-founded.

State Protection

[22]     A state, unless in a condition of complete breakdown, is presumed to be capable of protecting its citizens. To rebut the presumption of state protection, a claimant must provide clear and convincing confirmation of the state’s inability to protect its citizens.

[23]     Given that the state is the agent of persecution and taking into account the objective evidence, I find that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimant to seek the protection of the state in her circumstances, and that adequate state protection would not be reasonably forthcoming.

Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)

[24]     Given that the state is the agent of persecution with control over the entire country, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Eritrea and therefore a viable IFA does not exist.

CONCLUSION

[25]     Having considered all of the evidence, I find that there is a serious possibility that the claimant would face persecution in Eritrea. I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee and I accept her claim.

(signed)           Avril Cardoso

November 26, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 as amended
2 Exhibit 1
3 Feride Celik Guven & Miray Guven v. The Minister Of Citizenship and Immigration, 2018 FC 38 at para. 37.
4 Exhibit 3, Item 2.5
5 Ibid. and Item 2.3
6 Exhibit 3
7 Exhibit 3, Item 9.2
8 Exhibit 3, Item 2.3
9 Exhibit 3, Item 14.2