Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2019 RLLR 108

Citation: 2019 RLLR 108
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 7, 2019
Panel: A. Rico
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Hannah Lindy
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: TB8-25749
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000172-000175


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: These are the reasons for decision in the claim of [XXX]. First name is spelled, [XXX] (sic).  Second name is spelled [XXX], middle initial [XXX]. Last name is spelled, [XXX] who claims to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       In rendering my decisions, I have had considered and applied the Chairperson’s guidelines on women refugee claimants fearing gender related persecution.

[3]       You allege the following. You were sexually assaulted in Canada by a male Saudi citizen. You reported the sexual assault to the police and criminal charges were laid which resulted in criminal proceedings against the male Saudi citizen.

[4]       The Saudi Government pressured you to drop the criminal charges and to work with them to stop the criminal proceedings.

[5]       The male Saudi citizen belongs to a prominent family in Saudi Arabia. You fear that you will be prosecuted if returned to Saudi Arabia as the Saudi Government would blame you for being sexually assaulted.

[6]       I find that you are a Convention refugee as your fear of persecution is by reasons of your membership in a particular social group, specifically that a woman fearing gender based violence.

[7]       I find that your identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by your testimony and the supporting documentation filed, including the certified true copy of your passport found at Exhibit 1.

[8]       I find that the wealth of documentation found at Exhibits 5 and 7 establishes, on a balance of probabilities, that criminal charges were laid against a male Saudi citizen, and that you received threats from the Saudi Government because of these criminal charges.

[9]       You provided documents corroborating the criminal court proceedings against the male Saudi citizen as well as the threats you received via WhatsApp messaging arising from the commencement of those criminal court proceedings.

[10]     Given the preponderance of the corroborating evidence before me I find that, on a balance of probabilities, your allegations of persecution are, in fact, true.

[11]     I do not draw a negative credibility inference from your delay in making a refugee claim. I find it completely understandable that you had many things going on between attending hospital appointments, attending court appearances, and being available for Crown Prosecutors related to your criminal case.

[12]     I find it completely reasonable that the criminal case be in the forefront of your mind and that you would focus on the criminal proceedings.

[13]     I also note that at the time you were not at risk of being removed until Saudi students were called back to Saudi Arabia. As such, the risk had not yet materialized for you. And shortly after the risk of return to Saudi Arabia materialized you initiated your refugee claim.

[14]     While I continue to have concerns regarding your re-availment to Saudi Arabia in 2017, when weighing the totality of evidence as a whole these concerns are insufficient to rebut the presumption of truthfulness.

[15]     I therefore find that you have established a subjective fear of persecution if you are to be returned to Saudi Arabia by reason of your membership in a particular social group, specifically that of women fearing gender based violence.

[16]     Your subjective fear of persecution is objectively well-founded.

[17]     The documentary evidence at Exhibit 3 Item 2.1 states that one of the most significant human rights issues included violence and official gender discrimination against women, despite the announced new women’s rights initiatives.

[18]     Though rape is a criminal offence under Shari law, a rape victim must provide four witnesses to the rape or the perpetrator’s confession. Otherwise, the victim will be persecuted … prosecuted for having illegal sex. Punishment imposed by the court for having illegal sex may range from flogging if she is single or execution if she is married. Any resulting pregnancy also leaves them open to criminal prosecution or other punishment such as honour killing. Evidence of which can be found at Exhibit 3 Items 5.1 and 5.6.

[19]     Few cases of rape are prosecuted or reported as women fear being prosecuted themselves if they do report the crime.

[20]     Given that the criminal proceedings of sexual assault against a male Saudi citizen is public knowledge and that the Saudi Government through its embassy is aware of these criminal proceedings and that the objective documentary evidence establishes that you will more likely than not face a serious possibility of persecution if returned to Saudi Arabia as you may be punished for having what is considered in Saudi Arabia illegal sex, I find that you have established a well-founded fear of persecution in Saudi Arabia.

[21]     As the agent of persecution in your particular circumstances is the State, given that they will more likely than not prosecute and met out the punishment, I find that it would be objectively unreasonable for you to seek protection of the State.

[22]     I have also considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for you. On the evidence before me I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Saudi Arabia.

[23]     It is clear from the objective documentary evidence that the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia is the same throughout. As such, there is no safe place for you.

[24]     Based on the analysis above I conclude that you are a Convention refugee. Accordingly, I accept your claim.

[25]     Okay, let’s pull the mics back.

[26]     This concludes today’s hearing. We will be going off the record now. I wish you all a good afternoon.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Uganda

2019 RLLR 102

Citation: 2019 RLLR 102
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 7, 2019
Panel: S. Charow
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Denis Onek Olwedo
Country: Uganda
RPD Number: TB8-08518
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000139-000144


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision for [XXX], File TB8-08518. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in this case and I am ready to render my decision orally. I would also add that I have also considered the guidelines relating to gender.

[2]       You are claiming to be a citizen of Uganda and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       I find that you are a Convention refugee for the following reasons.

[4]       The allegations of your claim can be found in your Basis of Claim Form at Exhibit 2 and the subsequent amendment at Exhibit 6.

[5]       In short, you alleged persecution as a member of a particular social group, namely that you are in danger of being harmed because of your gender as you have suffered domestic violence at the hands of your husband since about 2011.

[6]       You fear that your husband would harm you or kill you should you return to Uganda and that the police cannot protect you.

[7]       You believe that your husband could locate you anywhere in Uganda as he has influence over the police and people in the army due to his position with an AIDS organisation in Entebbe.

[8]       You allege that he became friends with high-ranking AIDS patients he counselled and did favours for them, causing them to owe him favours as well as any favours that they may do for him because of their friendship.

[9]       Your personal identity as a citizen of Uganda has been established by your testimony and the supporting document filed in Exhibit 1, namely your Ugandan passport. I find that on a balance of probabilities identity and country of reference have been established.

[10]     In terms of your general credibility, I found you to be a fairly credible witness. I therefore accept what you have alleged in your oral testimony and in your Basis of Claim Form.

[11]     I did find that there were some issues with your testimony. You testified that these high-ranking officials from the police or the military had come to your home; however, this information was not contained in your Basis of Claim Form.

[12]     When I put that omission to you, you said that you were trying to narrow down the story and that you want to file amendments, but you didn’t have enough time to file an amendment to your Basis of Claim Form.

[13]     I also noticed that you had described fleeing to your mother’s home, and that when your husband came to take you back to Entebbe, he came with men from the army. The fact that he brought army men with him was not included in your Basis of Claim Form.

[14]     When I put that omission to you, you said as you mentioned before you had wanted to put it in your amendment, that you knew you had left out important information, but were trying to narrow down the story.

[15]     When I am considering your explanations for these omissions, I do note that you are well educated, you have a university degree, and that you had the benefit of counsel both at the hearing but also when completing your Basis of Claim Form.

[16]     Additionally, I note that you actually have submitted an addendum to your Basis of Claim Form at Exhibit 6.

[17]     So, with these factors considered together, I find that the answers that you gave for these omissions have not adequately explained the identified omissions, and I make that finding even when considering your diagnosis of stressor-related disorder. I reference Exhibit 5, page 28.

[18]     As such, I do draw a negative inference about your credibility from each omission. However, I find that the other credible evidence including other lines of testimony and your supporting documentation outweighs the concerns I have that stem out of these omissions.

[19]     I find that when you were discussing the abuse that you had suffered, you were very credible. You described in detail the abuse you suffered at the hands of your husband over the course of your marriage. You also provided extensive documentation to support your claim.

[20]     I note the existence of identity documents and medical documentation for your children, which does show the name of your husband as their father. I am satisfied therefore that you had a relationship with this man.

[21]     I also note affidavits from your mother and from your aunt and from your landlady, and these people talked about what they personally witnessed and how they personally helped you, and these affidavits are consistent with your allegations, they are detailed and they speak to each of the individual experience in regards to your allegations.

[22]     I also see a support letter from your sister, which again is consistent and detailed.  I see a letter from your divorce attorney where you had described trying to get a legal divorce in Uganda so that maybe your husband will stop bothering your family.

[23]     As well, I see a police report from Kampala, and although I did have some concerns because they said that they are looking for your husband, you said today that the police are not helping at all, you explained that even if nothing is being done by the police, they would still say that the investigation is ongoing, and that is indeed consistent with other evidence that we have in the National Documentation Package at Exhibit 3, which talks about the general lack of effectiveness of the Ugandan police, specifically when it comes to domestic violence issues, as I will discuss in a bit.

[24]     I also note an affidavit from your uncle and a letter from your father, again consistent, detailed and specific to what they personally witnessed or experienced.

[25]     When considering all of that and your credible testimony, I am satisfied that the events have occurred as alleged, that you would face persecution at the hands of your husband or his friends in the military or police should you return to Uganda. I find that you have established your subjective fear.

[26]     I find that there is a link between what you fear and one of the five Convention grounds, specifically as a Ugandan woman who is at risk of domestic violence, you are a member of a particular social group because of your gender.

[27]     Therefore, your claim has been assessed under Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[28]     I further find that you have an objective basis for your fear because of the documented conditions for Uganda as found in the National Documentation Package at Exhibit 3.

[29]     I note Item 2.1 which states that gender-based violence was common. It was recorded that in 2016, there were 163 deaths of women due to domestic violence, which was almost a 50% increase over 6 years.

[30]     I also note Item 5.5, which states that 56% of women aged 15 through 49 had experienced physical violence at least once since age 15. One of the factors behind these high prevalence rates is the widespread cultural acceptance of such violence.

[31]     The same survey found that wife battering is widely accepted, with 58% of women and 44% of men believing that it’s justified for a man to beat his wife for specified reasons.

[32]     When considering this, I find that your subjective fear has an objective basis. I find that you have a well-founded fear of persecution due to your gender.

[33]     I find that State protection would not be reasonably forthcoming in this case as per the evidence already discussed.

[34]     I also note that in Item 5.2 of the National Documentation Package at Exhibit 3, they talk about reasons why only a small percentage of victims of violence go to the police, and some of those reasons include apathetic attitudes among police officers towards domestic violence as well as the high cost associated with accessing police services and the desire by victims to keep families together.

[35]     The same study also notes that gender-based violence is perceived as a private matter and that legal redress could compromise the livelihood of the victims.

[36]     The same report also notes that gaps still exists in terms of State protection due to a lack of professionalism of law enforcement organisations, especially the police.

[37]     In terms of an internal flight alternative, you have alleged that your husband has friends that are high-ranking officials in both the army and the military.

[38]     You alleged that he developed these friendships because he was these people’s AIDS counsellor and would do them favours by ensuring that they could pick up their medication from your home instead of risking the stigma of members of the public finding out their AIDS status.

[39]     You testified that you saw them come to your home on multiple occasions to pick up their medication and that you also saw them as the years progressed become friends with your husband as they would stay and have drinks.

[40]     The fact that he has access to people in the military or the police is supported by the documents that you filed.

[41]     Various family members and your landlady in their affidavits or letter stated that men in uniforms would come and enquire about you on your husband’s behalf. These people also affirmed or wrote that they had been harassed and arrested by members of the police. I refer to Exhibits 5 and 7.

[42]     You have also alleged that should you relocate within Uganda, you would have to register with the local council, which is consistent with the documentary evidence in the National Documentation Package at Exhibit 3. On this matter, I find both your testimony and your written evidence to be credible.

[43]     Accordingly, when considering the mandatory registration upon relocation, in combination with the established police and military connections of your agent of persecution, your husband, I find that on a balance of probabilities there is more than a mere possibility of persecution for you anywhere in Uganda as there is more than a mere possibility that your husband could find you if you had relocated or would relocate in the future and that he has been making ongoing efforts to find you.

[44]     As the test for an internal flight alternative fails on the first prong, I find that there is no reasonable internal flight alternative for you anywhere in Uganda.

[45]     Based on the totality of the evidence, I find the claimant to be a Convention refugee. Your claim is therefore accepted.

[46]     So, this will conclude today’s hearing. I would like to thank everyone for their participation.

[47]     Thank you, madam interpreter.

[48]     INTERPRETER: Welcome.

[49]     MEMBER: Thank you, counsel.

[50]     COUNSEL: Thank you, madam member.

[51]     MEMBER: Thank you, ma’ am.

[52]     CLAIMANT: Thank you, ma’ am.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Jordan

2019 RLLR 88

Citation: 2019 RLLR 88
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 9, 2019
Panel: Khamissa Khamsi
Counsel for the claimant(s): Tiffani Frederick
Country: Jordan
RPD Number: TB7-23982
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000040-000042


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So [XXX] you claim to be a citizen of Jordan and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). So, I find that you are a Convention refugee and I accept your claim. I’m now going to explain to you the reason why I am accepting your claim. Congratulations first.

[2]       CLAIMANT: Thank you.

[3]       MEMBER: Given the issues that you have presented in your claim, I have considered the Chairperson’s Guidelines on the women refugee claimants fearing gender related persecution. The details of your claim, sorry are to be found in your Basis of Claim form but in short, you fear abuse at the hands of your ex­ husband’s relatives. And all also, at the hands of your relatives. To be more specific you divorced your first husband because of physical abuse and you forfeited the right of custody of your children. And after your husband, your first husband passed away, you refused to marry his younger brother. You married a second time and it also ended in a divorce here in Canada after you were physically abused. Therefore, you are also afraid that your parents would pressure you to go back to your first husband.

[4]       Now with regard to the identified issue.

IDENTITY

[5]       I find that your identity as a national of Jordan has been established by your testimony and by the supporting documents filed, including a Jordanian passport bearing a Canadian visa.

[6]       With regards to credibility, I find you to be a very credible witness and I believe what you have alleged in your claim. You have explained your personal situation as well as the cultural norms in Jordan which have affected your situation. You have testified in a straight forward manner and I didn’t see any inconsistencies between your oral and written testimony. You have provided some supporting documents to corroborate your allegations in particular, your first husbands death certificate and your divorce certificate, as well as court and police documents, with regards to the abuse that happened here in Canada.

[7]       I find that you have a nexus to the convention definition as a woman fearing gender related persecution. In so far as you sustained physical and mental abuse at the hands of your first husband and your family member, due to membership in a particular social group as a victim of family violence. I find that your fear of persecution is both subjectively and objectively well-founded. I have looked at the information contained in the documentation package on the situation faced by women, such as yourself, in Jordan. As well as in the country conditions document package provided by your council.

[8]       I note that problems of domestic and family violence are the most outgoing human rights problems in Jordan. And all the reports, injury report, the most recent ones continue to note that violence against women and honour crimes continue to occur despite the government’s efforts to put an end to such acts. As I indicated previously, I believe that you have testified. I believe what you have about your experiences in Jordan and I believe that your first husband’s relatives may still harm you.

[9]       I also looked at state protection and I asked you questions in this regard. And the information that I have on the availability of protection for women such as yourself and the evidence is quite clear that adequate state protection at an operational level does not exist for you in Jordan from the harm that you fear.

[10]     The reports are consistent with your experience as you described it. And you testified that the state would not be able to protect you because your husband is from a very important tribe in Jordan. I also note that even in the most recent report, for example, for Amnesty International, they report that women remain subject to discrimination in law and in practice. And they are inadequately protected from sexual and other violence, including so called honour crimes.

[11]     I also looked at internal flight alternatives and I find that internal flight alternative does not, not exist for you in Jordan. And the evidence before me states that there is no area where a single woman can attempt to live outside the family home.

[12]     In conclusion, I find that you’re a Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

[13]     Congratulations.

[14]     COUNSEL: Great. Thank you, Madame Member. Thank you so much.

[15]     MEMBER: Your welcome. Madame Interpreter, thank you for a great interpretation as usual.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Djibouti

2019 RLLR 83

Citation: 2019 RLLR 83
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 5, 2019
Panel: R. Jackson
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Rodney L Woolf
Country: Djibouti
RPD Number: TB7-05577
ATIP Number: A-2020-01459
ATIP Pages: 000020-000022


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision of [XXX], a written version will be sent to you. So, you allege you are a citizen of Djibouti and you are being forced to marry someone against your will.

[2]       You allege the Government of Djibouti won’t protect you and there is no safe place for you anywhere in Djibouti.

[3]       You provided your Djiboutian passport and we have the copy in Exhibit 1, and I accept that you are a citizen of Djibouti and I am satisfied you have established your identity.

[4]       Your testimony was straightforward and there were no major inconsistencies or contradictions between your testimony and that of your Basis of Claim Form.

[5]       Your father passed away and you testified that arranged marriages are common in Djibouti, and in this case your uncle on your father’s side has the power to determine who you will marry. Your uncle had arranged for you to marry a much older man whom you had no interest in marrying and you had a long-term boyfriend already.

[6]       You explained this to your uncle and he threatened you and beat you up. So, then you ran away from Djibouti rather than getting married to this older man. A letter of support from your long-term boyfriend in Djibouti was presented.

[7]       On a balance of probabilities, I accept that your testimony is credible and trustworthy.

[8]       I took notice of the Chairperson’s Guidelines for claims based on gender. Also, Item 5.3 in the National Documentation Package, which indicates that forced marriages are common practice in Djibouti.

[9]       You would have no or little protection from the coercion exercised by your uncle and that pressure would not stop until you agree to go through with the marriage that he arranged for you.

[10]     And whether this is treated as a case of domestic violence or forced marriage, the documentary evidence in Item 2.1 indicates the police will not intervene to protect you from your uncle.

[11]     With regard to State protection, civilian authorities maintained effective control over security forces, but there were many significant human rights issues such as interference with privacy rights; harassing, abusing and detaining government critics; restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, association and religion.

[12]     There is government corruption, violence against women and children with inadequate government action for prosecution and accountability, trafficking in persons, restrictions on worker rights, and child labour. Impunity is reportedly a problem in your country. The government seldom takes steps to prosecute or punish officials who commit abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government.

[13]     One of the reasons that police rarely intervene in cases of domestic violence is that the culture in Djibouti is that families and clans handle cases of violence against family members.

[14]     Under these circumstances, it is clear that it is not reasonable for you to ask the protection of the State of Djibouti.

[15]     It is relatively a small country and the documentary evidence indicates that asking you to attempt to relocate within your country as a single woman with no family connections is unreasonable, and so therefore I find it is not reasonable for you to seek an internal flight alternative in your particular circumstances.

[16]     Having considered all the evidence, I find that you have discharged your burden of establishing that there is a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground if you were to return to Djibouti, and so I therefore conclude that you are a Convention refugee and the Division accepts your claim.

[17]     So, this hearing is now concluded.

[18]     Thank you all for your participation today.

[19]     COUNSEL: Thank you.

[20]     CLAIMANT: Thank you.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2019 RLLR 77

Citation: 2019 RLLR 77
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 20, 2019
Panel: Preeti Adhopia
Counsel for the claimant(s): Raj Sharma
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: VB8-04396
RPD Associated Number(s): VB8-04395
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000243-000249


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claims of [XXX] (principal claimant) and her youngest son, [XXX] (minor claimant), as citizens of Lebanon who are claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act“).1

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The principal claimant is a 48-year-old woman who was born in [XXX], but moved with her family to [XXX] in the Bekka Valley when the war broke out. In 1993, her marriage to a second cousin was arranged by her family. After a couple of months, her husband, [XXX], became abusive. He would regularly humiliate push, punch, kick, pinch and beat her. He also routinely raped her. The violence would continue even while she was pregnant. When her first child was born, the principal claimant’s husband was angered because it was a girl. This was repeated for her second and third daughters. Her husband was also controlling and demanded that the principal claimant cover her hair. When she did not do so, he taunted her about being a bad Muslim in front of guests until she finally relented.

[3]       Although the principal claimant’s fourth child was a son, [XXX] was abusive towards him too, not to mention the other children. The principal claimant gave birth to the minor claimant nine years after her last child and when he was just one week old, she was bathing him when her husband demanded lunch. When she asked him to wait a moment, he grabbed the minor claimant by the arm and threw him on the bed and beat the principal claimant. When the minor claimant did not appear able to move his arm, [XXX] begrudgingly agreed to let the principal claimant take him to a doctor. It was determined that the baby had nerve damage. The minor claimant still has difficulty moving his arm today.

[4]       [XXX] forced the principal claimant’s eldest daughter to marry a much older man when she was 20. He also started demanding that her eldest son join Hezbullah. The principal claimant and this son agreed that he would run away if his father forced him to join. The principal claimant was treated even more violently by [XXX] who insisted that she had made their son weak. She began to believe he would kill her. As a result, the principal claimant left her husband and made a complaint at the prosecutor’s office in a nearby town. There, she was advised to submit a document to a police station. She decided against doing so because her husband’s cousins work at that station.

[5]       The principal claimant decided her only option was to leave the country so she sought the help of her brother who lives in Canada. But, her Canadian visa application was denied. She decided to leave her husband anyway and asked for the help of a close friend who lives in a Beirut suburb. She travelled to her house and stayed there for two days without letting anyone else know about her whereabouts. The principal claimant rented a place near her friend’s home which she paid for with her brother’s help. She did not leave the apartment for two weeks out of fear. She then began going out a little for a month before her husband, armed with a gun, came to her door and forced her to return home where she was brutally beaten. He threatened to kill her if she tried to leave again. He even refused to allow her to see her dying grandmother and threw a knife at her to make his point.

[6]       With her brother’s assistance, the principal claimant applied for another Canadian visa and included the minor claimant in the application which was accepted. With the help of her eldest daughter and son-in-law, the claimants secretly left the country. When [XXX] discovered this, he disowned his daughter and harassed the principal claimant’s father. The claimants fear that if they return to Lebanon, they will face persecution and other risks from [XXX].

DETERMINATION

[7]       I find that, pursuant to section 96 of the Act, the claimants are Convention refugees as they have a well-founded fear of persecution related to a Convention ground in Lebanon.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[8]       The claimants’ identities as nationals of Lebanon are established by their passports in evidence. I am satisfied of their identities by these documents.

Credibility

[9]       At the hearing, the principal claimant gave clear, direct and succinct testimony that was natural and clearly unrehearsed. Her voice would often soften to a whisper when describing specifics of the violence, particularly in relation to the minor claimant. There were no material inconsistencies or contradictions within the claimants’ evidence that were not reasonably explained or that undermined their credibility in respect of their central allegations. The claimants submitted evidence to corroborate some of their allegations. This includes statements from the principal claimant’s brother, four eldest children, son-in-law and friend who all confirm [XXX] abuse and the principal claimant’s efforts to leave him. Also in evidence are some doctor’s notes pertaining to the claimants’ injuries and the complaint to the prosecutor. These documents substantiate the abuse suffered by the claimants. The objective country condition evidence in the National Documentation Package (NDP) also verifies the prevalence of domestic violence in Lebanon and the inadequate measures to address the problem. Based on the presumption of truthfulness, the principal claimant’s consistent testimony and the corroborative evidence, I accept her allegations as credible.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[10]     I find that the principal claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution based on her status as a woman in Lebanon. Gender-based violence in Lebanon is tolerated, ignored and perpetuated by patriarchal structures in Lebanese society. The principal claimant endured 25 years of routine verbal, physical and sexual abuse by her husband who controlled her life. When she tried to leave him, she was discovered and further brutalized. Her husband threatened to kill her in the past and reiterated his intention when he learned she had fled to Canada. The minor claimant also suffered abuse at the hands of his father starting from infancy. This past abuse demonstrates a prospect of continued violence that can be characterized as serious, sustained and systematic human rights violations amounting to persecution. As the principal claimant’s fear of persecution is based on her membership in a particular social group, her allegations form a nexus to the Convention. Since the principal claimant’s allegations are grounded in the Convention, the minor claimant derives a nexus from her claim as a family member. The objective evidence corroborates the fact that gender-based violence in Lebanon is a very serious problem.

[11]     Act for Human Rights Lebanon (ALEF) reveals a grim fact about the situation for women; Lebanon ranked 137 out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality which is evident in every-day life.2 A Response to Information Request (RIR) cites an estimate that one woman a month is killed by a family member in Lebanon, usually her husband.3 It goes on to state that gender-based violence is serious and widespread and women are also victims of discrimination both in law and practice. Furthermore, women cannot depend on family to prevent violence as they rarely receive their family’s support. Finally, the RIR finds that customs and beliefs have ‘normalized’ violence against women in Lebanon.

[12]     The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) maintains that under-reporting of domestic abuse remains high, as many women are afraid to speak out about violence they experience at home for fear of being blamed for the abuse, or of bringing shame on the family.4 In addition, social and family pressure, as well as lack of financial independence, compels many women to remain in abusive relationships and they are sometimes instructed to return to abusive husbands by religious courts.

[13]     The Department of State (DOS) finds that while the law in Lebanon criminalizes domestic violence, “it does not specifically provide protection for women.”5 Despite maximum sentencing law of 10 years in prison for battery, some religious courts may legally require a battered wife to return to her home despite physical abuse. The DOS goes on to confirm that women suffer discrimination under the law and in practice. It reports that in matters of child custody, inheritance and divorce, personal status laws provide unequal treatment across the various confessional court systems but generally discriminate against women.

[14]     The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) concludes that women in Lebanon face a “high risk of societal and official discrimination, and a high risk of societal violence.”6

[15]     The evidence reveals that domestic violence in Lebanon is prevalent. Based on the past violence suffered by the claimants, the ongoing threats to harm them further and the treatment of women in Lebanon generally, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution if the claimants return.

State Protection

[16]     In this case, I do not find that the claimants are likely to obtain adequate state protection. The principal claimant attempted to make a complaint against her husband, but could not see it through in view of her husband’s relatives who are employed by the police. I accept that this posed a reasonable barrier for her. However, the authorities will and capacity to protect women from violence is inadequate.

[17]     DFAT finds that generally, Lebanese authorities do not provide effective protection though this depends on the area concerned. Several areas in Lebanon are not under effective state control due to the presence of Hezbullah, so the authorities are largely absent there. According to the RIR in evidence, “it is not mandatory for police officers, lawyers, physicians, social counsellors, colleagues in the workplace, neighbours, friends, clergymen, or any other potential witness of women subjected to family violence to report such abuse.” Furthermore, the RIR states that the police often do not take the complaints from women seriously and by going to a police station, women risk being ridiculed and subjected to other forms of harassment. The OECD confirms that police are reluctant to intervene in domestic violence which is considered a taboo issue. It notes that “honour crimes” are rarely prosecuted and are often reported as suicides.

Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)

[18]     I also do not find that relocation in the claimants’ circumstances is reasonable. Internal relocation is “highly dependent” on an individual’s financial constraints and connections; those with financial limitations and without connections find it difficult to relocate in Lebanon.7 I considered that the principal claimant is a middle-aged, high school graduate who has never held a job in Lebanon. Her ability to support herself and her son in another city is therefore quite limited, particularly given income inequality and other disadvantages women experience. As discussed earlier, there are areas that are not under state control which also hampers relocation. An IFA is not, therefore, viable.

CONCLUSION

[19]     Having considered all of the evidence, I find that the claimants are Convention refugees as set out in section 96 of the Act. Their claims are therefore accepted.

(signed)           Preeti Adhopia

September 20, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27.
2 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP), Lebanon, March 29, 2019, Item 2.8.
3 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.2 Response to Information Request (RIR) LBN104656.FE.
4 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 5.3.
5 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.1.
6 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.5.
7 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.5.

Categories
All Countries India

2019 RLLR 76

Citation: 2019 RLLR 76
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 24, 2019
Panel: Nick Bower
Counsel for the claimant(s): Ramin Joubin
Country: India
RPD Number: VB8-02905
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000233-000242


REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of [XXX], a citizen of India who claims refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).1

[2]       In rendering my reasons, I have considered and applied the Chairperson’s Guidelines on Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution.2

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimant alleges that she is at risk of being killed by her husband’s family to satisfy their honour.

[4]       The claimant was born in and grew up in Punjab, India. Except for her time in university, the claimant lived with her parents until she married.

[5]       She attended university at [XXX], a city [XXX] or [XXX] hours away. She stayed in [XXX] for two days a week to attend classes, and returned home for the other five days each week. While in [XXX] she lived in a [XXX] with other women. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in [XXX].

[6]       After graduation, the claimant returned to live with her parents. Her parents did not let her stay in [XXX]. She looked for work in her hometown without success. Her parents did not support the claimant looking for work elsewhere in India, and the claimant did not want to live on her own because she was afraid that she would get a bad reputation as a single woman living alone.

[7]       The claimant’s family and the family of her future husband were acquainted through distant relatives. Her future husband, [XXX], contacted the claimant through Facebook in 2014 and they stayed Facebook friends until he asked her family to marry her. The claimant’s family agreed, and the claimant and [XXX] were engaged in 2015.

[8]       [XXX] brother, [XXX], and sister-in-law, [XXX], lived in Canada. After the claimant confessed her anxieties about her upcoming marriage to [XXX], [XXX] passed this information to [XXX] parents. [XXX] parents were angry that the claimant was opposing her husband, and right before the formal engagement ceremony [XXX] parents called off the engagement.

[9]       [XXX] insisted on marrying the claimant, and his parents relented. The claimant and [XXX] were engaged in summer 2015, and married on [XXX], 2015. Following the marriage the claimant moved to live with [XXX].

[10]     For the first few months after they were married, [XXX] consulted with the claimant regarding decisions for the couple. He later stopped considering the claimant’s opinion, and the claimant was not even allowed to choose what food to prepare for family meals.

[11]     In mid-2017 the claimant discovered that [XXX] had been abusing drugs when he suffered a [XXX]. The claimant spoke to [XXX] family about seeking treatment for him, but they did not cooperate. The claimant believes that [XXX] family, who continued to dislike the claimant, were hoping that [XXX] addiction would drive the couple apart. [XXX] did eventually go to treatment for his addiction.

[12]     [XXX] family arranged for the couple to visit [XXX] brother and sister-in-law in Canada, and the claimant and [XXX] arrived in Canada in [XXX] 2018. They stayed with [XXX] brother and sister-in-law. The sister-in-law, [XXX], was the same woman who had worked to turn [XXX] family against the claimant years before.

[13]     In Canada [XXX] continued to use drugs. [XXX] told the claimant’s mother-in­ law that the claimant was blaming the mother-in-law for the claimant’s and [XXX] problems. The mother-in-law spoke to [XXX] about this. A few weeks after the claimant and [XXX] arrived in Canada, [XXX] confronted the claimant, and the two argued. [XXX] then assaulted the claimant, choking her.

[14]     Disagreements between the claimant and her in-laws continued. Later, on [XXX], 2018, [XXX] and [XXX] insisted that the claimant leave their home. The claimant did so the next day.

[15]     The claimant went to stay in a women’s shelter. She returned to her in-laws’ home a few days later in the company of police to collect the rest of her belongings. The claimant told the police about [XXX] assault on her, and the police returned to arrest [XXX].

[16]     Although there were no charges against [XXX] that proceeded to court, [XXX] parents learned that he had been arrested. Others in their community in Punjab heard about the arrest from their own relatives in Canada. The claimants’ parents-in-law felt shamed that their son had been arrested, and threatened to kill the claimant once she returned from Canada. The parents-in­ law made this threat to the claimant’s parents, who passed the information to a family friend, who in turn passed it to the claimant.

[17]     The claimant has had no contact with her parents-in-law since she left [XXX] brother’s home. She has had no contact with her own parents for several months.

[18]     The claimants’ in-laws had owned a high-earning [XXX] that earned them social status in the community. Her wedding was attended by significant local figures, including actors, retired military officers, and criminals. The claimant saw some of these people visit her in-laws’ home socially on other occasions.

[19]     However, after the claimant came to Canada, she learned that her in-laws had lost the [XXX], and had little liquid assets left. The claimant’s sister-in-law [XXX] was working at [XXX] and other jobs, and sending money back to the claimant’s parents-in-law.

[20]     The claimant alleges that her parents insist that she return to her husband, whatever the situation, because that is what is expected of a wife. She alleges that her in-laws are angry that she has shamed them by having their son arrested and seek to kill her to restore their honour.

DETERMINATION

[21]     I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[22]     I find that the claimant’s identity as a citizen of India is established by her testimony and the copy of her current Indian passport including a Canadian visa.3

Credibility

[23]     When a claimant swears to the truth of their allegations, there is a presumption that those allegations are true, unless there is reason to doubt their truthfulness.4 I cannot find a reason to doubt the truthfulness of the claimant’s allegations.

[24]     The claimant’s testimony was generally consistent with the other evidence before me. She testified in a responsive manner and with reasonable detail on relevant matters.

[25]     The claimant provided some corroborating documentary evidence. She has provided a name card with a file number from a constable with the [XXX] RCMP.5 Although there is no date or any further information, the card does corroborate that the claimant had some contact with the RCMP in [XXX], where she stayed with her brother-in-law and his wife.

[26]     The claimant has provided a letter from a women’s shelter.6 This letter corroborates that the claimant stayed at the shelter for an extended period after being kicked out of her in-laws’ home in [XXX].

[27]     The claimant has provided a transcript of a recorded telephone conversation between her mother and a friend of the claimant’s that corroborates details of the claimant’s testimony. Details of the conversation, including the first names and family circumstances of the subjects of the conversation, are consistent with the claimant and [XXX]. The speaker identified as the claimant’s mother states that [XXX] father has threatened to kill the claimant because she filed a complaint against them, and that the claimant’s mother wants nothing more to do with the claimant.

Nexus

[28]     I find that there is a nexus between the persecution alleged and the Convention ground of membership in a particular social group as a woman. The claimant alleges that she faces persecution because she is a woman, and faces harsh consequences for not behaving as expected by the community.

Well-Founded Fear

[29]     The claimant has testified that she fears returning to India. Considering all of the evidence before me, I find on a balance of probabilities that her fear is objectively well-founded.

[30]     The claimant’s father-in-law has threatened to kill the claimant because she publicly shamed the family. I find that there is a serious risk that the claimant’s in-laws will carry out that threat.

[31]     The claimant has testified that her in-laws have publicly and proudly associated with high-ranking members of local criminal organizations, including at her wedding, and that her father-in-law has bragged to her of using his connections to bribe police. This demonstrates that the claimant’s in-laws are willing to demonstrate in illegal activity for their own benefit.

[32]     Objective evidence states that police in India are subject to corruption and operate in an environment of “widespread impunity,” corroborating the father-in-law’s boasts of bribery.7

[33]     The claimant has provided photos obtained from Facebook of her father-in-law and other relatives posing proudly with a variety of firearms.8 I am satisfied that the claimant’s in-laws have the means to carry out their threat to her.

[34]     The objective evidence establishes that ‘honour’ crimes against women in India remain a major issue.9 10

[35]     ‘Honour’ crimes are committed to maintain a family’s or community’s honour in society and are usually targeted against women. Family honour is particularly connected to women and marriage, and ‘honour’ crimes can occur because a child married against the parents’ wishes. Although there are no official statistics available, ‘honour’ crimes are reported to be “prevalent” or “widespread” in India, and are more common in northern areas, including Punjab. ‘Honour’ crimes occur in all sectors of society, among all religions, and in both urban and rural areas. ‘Honour’ crimes frequently end in the death of the victim.11

[36]     The claimant’s in-laws have threatened to kill the claimant because her actions in leaving their son and involving the police have insulted their honour. Based on the evidence before me in this case, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that there is a serious risk that the claimant faces persecution in the form of ‘honour’ killing if she were to return to India.

State protection

[37]     I find that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection.

[38]     Police in India are under-staffed, under-resourced, under-trained and overburdened. Police are subject to political pressure, and are themselves sometimes responsible for human rights abuses. Police frequently failed to respond effectively, particularly regarding crimes against women.12

[39]     Police are reluctant to accept complaints or carry out investigations regarding ‘honour’ crimes, generally only registering complaints if the complainant is influential or wealthy. Powerful perpetrators often face no real consequences. In some areas, police are sympathetic to the perpetrators and implicitly condone ‘honour’ crimes.13

[40]     Based on the evidence before me in this case, I find that the state will not provide adequate protection to the claimant.

Internal flight alternative (IFA)

[41]     Considering all of the evidence before me, in the particular circumstances of this case, I find that it is not objectively reasonable for the claimant to relocate within India.

[42]     The threshold for an IFA to be objectively unreasonable is very high; conditions must jeopardize the life and safety of the claimant for a proposed IFA to be unreasonable.14 The onus is on the claimant to provide actual concrete evidence of conditions that would jeopardize her life and physical safety if she were to relocate, considering all of the circumstances, including those particular to her.15

[43]     The claimant has a university education; she has obtained a bachelor’s degree in [XXX]. However, she has never worked outside the home, and had never lived independently before separating from her husband in Canada. Even given her education, the claimant is inexperienced and unsophisticated.

[44]     The claimant has not kept in contact with her friends from university. Her family will not support her, and she no longer has contact with her family members. She has only a few friends willing to assist her, and they are here in Canada. If the claimant were to return to India, she would be alone and without support.

[45]     Single women are stigmatized and marginalized in Indian society, and are not considered complete without a husband. Women face significant difficulties finding employment, often only able to find low-paid subsistence work in the informal sector. Women are more vulnerable to inequities in job security, pay parity, access to credit, and suitable work conditions.16

[46]     Single women have great difficulty finding housing. Single women are seen to be of poor moral character and possibly engaged in prostitution, and so landlords do not like to rent apartments, even to single women who are professionals. Landlords who do rent to single women sometimes impose rules on their tenants, including curfews, and frequently look for opportunities to evict single female tenants.17

[47]     Many women who flee domestic violence are left homeless. Homeless women are subject to constant violence, sexual assault and murder, from passers-by and even police, and lack access to essential public services.18

[48]     Women in India are subject to violence including rape and violation of their rights, which occur throughout the country systematically and with impunity, within the home and within the community at large. State actors perpetrate or condone the violence. There are few resources available to assist single women to live independently.19

[49]     As set out by the country documents, these conditions exist throughout India, including in large metropolitan cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi.

[50]     Based on all of the evidence before me in this case, including the objective documentary evidence about country conditions in India faced by single women, I find on a balance of probabilities that internal relocation is objectively unreasonable for the claimant. She would face significant and constant obstacles in finding work and shelter, and would be at constant risk of homelessness and violence. These conditions jeopardize her life and safety.

[51]     Because relocation is objectively unreasonable in all of the circumstances of this case, the claimant does not have a viable IFA.

CONCLUSION

[52]     Based on the analysis above, I conclude that the claimant is a Convention refugee, and I accept her claim.

(signed)           Nick Bower

May 24, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27.
2 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) Chairperson’s Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution, November 1996.
3 Exhibit 1.
4 Maldonado v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1980] 2 FC 302 (C.A.).
5 Exhibit 5, p. 10.
6 Exhibit 5, p. 9.
7 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 2.1: India. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. United States. Department of State. 13 March 2019.
8 Exhibit 5, pp. 25-29.
9 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 2.1: India. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. United States. Department of State. 13 March 2019.
10 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 2.11: Compilation on India. United Nations. Human Rights Council. 22 February 2017. A/HRC/WG.6/27/IND/2.
11 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 5.10: Honour crimes, including their prevalence in both rural and urban areas; government protection and services offered to victims of honour crimes (2009-April 2013). Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 9 May 2013. IND104370.E.
12 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 2.1: India. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018. United States. Department of State. 13 March 2019.
13 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 5.10: Honour crimes, including their prevalence in both rural and urban areas; government protection and services offered to victims of honour crimes (2009-April 2013). Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 9 May 2013. IND104370.E.
14 Hamdan v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), 2017 FC 643, para. 12.
15 Diaz Pena v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2019 FC 369, para. 36.
16 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 5.11: Whether single women and women who head their own households without male support can obtain housing and employment, including in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh; women’s housing, land, property and inheritance rights; government support service… Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 26 May 2015. IND105109.E.
17 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 5.11: Whether single women and women who head their own households without male support can obtain housing and employment, including in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh; women’s housing, land, property and inheritance rights; government support service… Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 26 May 2015. IND105109.E.
18 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 5.2: Violence against women, including domestic violence, homelessness, workplace violence; information on legislation, state protection, services, and legal recourse available to women who are victims of violence (2013-April 2015). Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 15 May 2015. IND105130.E.
19 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package, India, 29 March 2019, tab 1.10: Country Information and Guidance. India: Women fearing gender-based harm/violence. United Kingdom. Home Office. April 2015.

Categories
All Countries Mexico

2019 RLLR 6

Citation: 2019 RLLR 6
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 7, 2019
Panel: Marcelle Bourassa
Country: Mexico
RPD Number: MB8-15797
ATIP Number: A-2020-01124
ATIP Pages: 000046-000052


INTRODUCTION

[1]       La demandeure d’asile Madame [XXX], une citoyenne du Mexique, demande l’asile au titre de l’article 96 et du paragraphe 97(1) de la Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés.

[2]       Le Tribunal a nommé la demanderesse comme personne vulnérable après avoir examiné une requête en ce sens ainsi que des rapports psychologiques et psychosociaux concernant la demandeure.

[3]       Le Tribunal a accepté comme accommodement que l’on inverse l’ordre des interrogatoires et qu’il soit fourni une interprète de sexe féminin. Le Tribunal a également accepté la présence d’observatrices à titre de soutien psychologique à la demanderesse.

[4]       Tout au long de l’audience et en rendant sa décision, le Tribunal a tenu compte des Directives du Président relatives aux demandeures d’asile qui craignent la persécution en raison de leur sexe.

ALLÉGATIONS

[5]       La demanderesse est allée vivre à [XXX] en [XXX] 2011. Elle gagnait sa vie en travaillant dans différents clubs et discothèques comme serveuse, elle vendait des shooters d’alcool. Elle travaillait toujours dans le même domaine à l’époque où des cartels de drogues tentaient de saisir le contrôle de la vente de drogues et de services sexuels sur ce territoire. Les médias rapportaient des assassinats et des enlèvements de personnes qui tentaient de s’opposer aux projets de ces cartels.

[6]       Madame, quant à elle, travaillait pour un club dont les propriétaires étaient des Chrétiens qui offraient des spectacles de qualité. Ce genre de club était vraisemblablement plus difficile à pénétrer pour ces cartels de vente de drogues.

[7]       La demanderesse a connu un photographe qui a été approché par un cartel pour vendre la drogue et des services de prostitution à la clientèle de ce club. Lorsque celui-ci a refusé de coopérer, il a été enlevé, aucune rançon n’a été demandée, il a été torturé et ensuite relâché.

[8]       Madame a décidé de cesser de travailler dans ce milieu. Elle s’est retrouvée sans emploi pendant quelques mois. Elle a par la suite joint une équipe qui vendait des billets pour ces spectacles, de jour, auprès d’une clientèle qui restait dans un hôtel de luxe.

[9]       Le [XXX] 2017, elle a été abordée à la fin de la journée sur la plage par des gens qui lui ont demandé de coopérer pour vendre de la drogue et des services de prostitution à cette clientèle. La demanderesse a exprimé son refus, elle a été frappée, menacée et a subi des attouchements. À l’arrivée de certains touristes sur la plage, les individus qui l’avaient ainsi traitée se sont enfuis.

[10]     Dès le lendemain, elle s’est présentée pour offrir sa démission. Elle a raison de croire que les agissements des membres de ce cartel étaient connus de la gestion puisque dès son arrivée, les gestionnaires avaient les documents nécessaires pour la congédier.

[11]     Le [XXX] 2017, lorsqu’elle retournait chez elle vers les [XXX], elle a été interceptée dans la rue devant sa résidence. Elle a été enlevée, un mouchoir couvert de produits chimiques a été placé sur son visage, ce qui lui a fait perdre connaissance un certain temps. Lors de cet enlèvement, elle a été violemment rossée, elle a été passée à tabac, elle a été violée et elle a été marquée sur son corps avec des brûlures de cigarette apposées sur ses jambes avec une parfaite symétrie. La demanderesse croit qu’il s’agissait d’une façon de marquer et identifier les femmes qui sont sous l’emprise de ce cartel.

[12]     Elle a ensuite été abandonnée. La demanderesse n’a pas porté plainte auprès des autorités en raison du fait qu’il était bien connu que celles-ci étaient soit complices de ces cartels, ou en avaient peur et refusaient d’agir. Ne voulant pas alerter des policiers complices et par le fait même, s’attirer des ennuis supplémentaires, elle n’a pas été à l’hôpital, elle s’est soignée elle-même comme elle l’a pu.

[13]     Elle a quitté la ville pour aller à [XXX], d’abord chez sa mère et au fil des mois, par la suite, dans son propre appartement. Environ six mois plus tard, elle était prête à tenter de travailler pour y refaire sa vie. Elle a trouvé des emplois dans le domaine immobilier, dans la restauration.

[14]     À la mi-[XXX] 2018, elle a reçu un appel. On lui a dit qu’on l’avait retrouvée et on lui a même précisé ce qu’elle portait ce jour-là. Apeurée, la demanderesse a quitté son emploi, elle a quitté son appartement et elle est retournée chez sa mère. Juste avant son départ du Mexique, elle a pu observer des voitures devant la maison de sa mère. Les occupants de celles-ci semblaient surveiller la maison.

[15]     Elle a quitté son pays le [XXX] 2018, elle est arrivée au Canada le même jour et a demandé l’asile le mois suivant. Depuis son arrivée au Canada, la demanderesse a su qu’en [XXX] 2018, des gens sont entrés chez sa mère, ils l’ont ligotée et frappée, ils l’ont tenue captive pendant plusieurs heures. Ils ont fouillé la maison et ont insisté pour savoir où se trouve la demanderesse.

ANALYSE

Identité

[16]     L’identité de la demanderesse a été établie par la preuve testimoniale ainsi qu’à l’aide de la preuve documentaire déposée au dossier. Celle-ci inclut des photocopies de passeport émis par les autorités mexicaines, les originaux desquels ont été saisis par les autorités d’immigration canadiennes. Le Tribunal est satisfait de la preuve quant à l’identité de la demanderesse.

Crédibilité

[17]     Le Tribunal se doit de mentionner que l’état de détresse de la demanderesse est visible dans son visage et dans ses gestes. Malgré cela, elle a répondu aux questions de son conseil et du Tribunal de façon directe. Elle a offert des détails lorsque cela fut requis. Son témoignage était souvent émotif.

[18]     Elle a également déposé en preuve des documents pour corroborer les emplois qu’elle a eus. Le Tribunal a également en preuve des photos des marques de brûlures de cigarette sur ses jambes auxquelles elle a fait référence auparavant. De plus, la demanderesse a également offert de nombreux détails qui ont été relatés aux intervenantes dans le domaine psychologique dont les rapports sont en preuve. Enfin, la demanderesse a déposé des lettres de différents témoins pour appuyer sa demande.

[19]     Son témoignage était tout à fait conforme au narratif déposé en annexe, son formulaire Fondements de la demande d’asile, et les faits relatés dans les rapports psychologiques et psychosociaux ainsi que dans les lettres d’appui.

[20]     Le Tribunal croit la demanderesse.

Application de l’article 96 de la Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés

[21]     Les motifs des agents de persécution sont multiples. D’une part, leur but ultime est de faire de l’argent. Ils ont ciblé la demanderesse, la considérant comme étant une femme attirante qui serait capable d’aller chercher une clientèle importante pour la vente de drogues et de services de prostitution.

[22]     Les agents de persécution sont possiblement motivés par un esprit de vengeance ou la volonté de donner l’exemple à d’autres qui auraient pour idée de refuser de coopérer avec eux, mais essentiellement, lorsqu’une personne est violée, c’est en raison du fait qu’elle appartient au groupe social des femmes, qu’elle est victime. Ainsi, le lien avec la Convention est établi.

[23]     Quant à savoir s’il existe une crainte bien fondée prospective, le Tribunal note que bien que la demanderesse ait quitté son emploi et tenté de refaire sa vie à [XXX] qui, par voiture, se trouve à 24 heures de là où les problèmes ont commencé, ses persécuteurs ont fini par la retrouver environ six mois plus tard. Ils l’ont menacée, ils ont surveillé la maison où elle résidait et ils ont fini par traiter la mère de la demanderesse avec violence dans le but de retrouver la demanderesse.

[24]     Le Tribunal estime qu’il est raisonnable de croire qu’elle encourt plus qu’une simple possibilité de persécution si elle devait retourner dans son pays aujourd’hui. Ainsi, l’article 96 trouve son application.

Protection de l’État

[25]     La demanderesse n’a pas demandé la protection des autorités mexicaines pour se protéger. Néanmoins, elle a établi par la preuve documentaire que les cartels qu’elle craint ont su s’imposer, malgré les mesures de protection de l’appareil étatique. Ils ont su faire régner un niveau de violence endémique, soit en s’assurant la corruption de certains policiers ou encore, en faisant régner la terreur au sein de celles-ci.

[26]     Le Tribunal dispose d’une preuve claire et convaincante de l’incapacité ou du manque de volonté de ces autorités de protéger ses citoyens contre la violence exercée par ces cartels, tel que le reflète le niveau épouvantable de viols et de violence qui se produisent en toute impunité.

Possibilité de refuge intérieur

[27]     Le Tribunal n’a pas abordé directement la question de la possibilité de refuge intérieur dans les questions posées à la demanderesse. Néanmoins, la preuve révèle que la demanderesse a tenté de refaire sa vie à [XXX], à plus de 24 heures de route, si on se déplace en voiture. La demanderesse a été retrouvée et menacée à cet endroit, peu après avoir repris le travail.

[28]     Cela porte à croire que ces cartels bénéficient de la complicité de gens dans l’appareil étatique qui ont accès aux banques de données des travailleurs. Quoi qu’il en soit, ils ont réussi à a trouver et n’ont pas hésité à la menacer et même, à faire violence à sa mère pour essayer de la retrouver.

[29]     Le Tribunal estime que la demanderesse a établi qu’il n’existe aucun endroit où elle pourrait vivre normalement, en toute sécurité au Mexique. Dans de telles circonstances, il n’est pas nécessaire d’examiner le deuxième volet de la possibilité de refuge intérieur.

CONCLUSION

[30]     Après examen de l’ensemble de la preuve, le Tribunal conclut que Madame [XXX] a qualité de réfugiée au sens de la Convention et par conséquent, accueille sa demande d’asile.

Categories
All Countries Jamaica

2019 RLLR 69

Citation: 2019 RLLR 69
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 18, 2019
Panel: L. Bonhomme
Counsel for the claimant(s): Robin Edoh
Country: Jamaica
RPD Number: TB8-24791
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000199-000203


[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision for the following claimant, [XXX].

[2]       You are claiming to be a citizen of Jamaica and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       Given the nature of this claim, I have taken into consideration the Chairperson’s Guidelines on women refugee claimants fearing gender related persecution.

[4]       You’ll receive an unedited transcript of this oral decision in the mail in approximately three weeks.

[5]       Your counsel will also receive a copy and will answer any related questions you may have at that time.

Determination

[6]       Your claim is accepted.

[7]       I find that you are a Convention refugee on the grounds of your membership in a particular social group as a woman facing gender-based violence for the following reasons.

Allegations

[8]       You allege the following.

[9]       You are a citizen of Jamaica and you are in an abusive relationship with a man in Jamaica, [XXX], from 2011 to [XXX] 2016, at which time you fled Jamaica because you were afraid.

[10]     You allege that you moved in with [XXX] in 2011 and approximately a year later he started being physically abusive to you and he was also physically abusive to your son, [XXX] (Ph.).

[11]     The one time you tried to leave him while you were in Jamaica in [XXX] 2013, he stabbed you in the [XXX] with a knife and you sustained a serious wound which left a scar.

[12]     You allege that [XXX] has continued to threaten you while you have been in Canada through your parents.

[13]     You allege if you return, [XXX] will harm you or kill you, as he has threatened.

[14]     You allege that there is no state protection for you or an internal flight alternative.

Identity

[15]     Your personal identity as a citizen of Jamaica has been established by your testimony and the supporting documents filed in the exhibits, namely the certified true copy of your Jamaican passport and Canadian visa.

[16]     I find that on a balance of probabilities, that identity and country of reference have been established.

Nexus

[17]     I find that there is a link between what you fear and one of the five Convention grounds, namely membership in a particular social group, as a woman facing gender-based violence, and therefore I’ve only assessed your claim under section 96.

Credibility

[18]     In terms of your general credibility, I have found you to be a credible witness and I therefore believe what you have alleged in your oral testimony and in your Basis of Claim form.

[19]     You were forthcoming and answered all questions put to you.

[20]     You gave thoughtful answers and did not embellish your evidence in your testimony.

[21]     Your evidence was consistent between your testimony and your Basis of Claim form.

[22]     You have provided letters from your mother and sister in Jamaica who had firsthand knowledge of your abusive relationship with [XXX] and who corroborated the abuse.

[23]     Your mother corroborated [XXX] continuing threats to harm you while you have been in Canada.

[24]     Although you did not provide a letter from your son, who is in Ottawa, Canada, and who also experienced abuse from [XXX], and witnessed [XXX] being abusive to you, you provided a reasonable explanation for not requesting one from him.

[25]     Although the Panel was concerned that you returned to Jamaica from Canada and the United States on three occasions, you have explained that you were fearful of increasing [XXX] anger towards you and that you were unaware of the option of making a refugee or asylum claim.

[26]     The Panel has considered your explanations in light of the Chairperson’s Guidelines and in the context of your profile as a woman in a longstanding abusive relationship and finds that your explanations are adequate.

[27]     I find that you have established on a balance of probabilities that you were in an abusive relationship in Jamaica with [XXX] for nearly five years.

[28]     Although you wanted to leave him, you were unsuccessful the one time you tried and that resulted in a serious injury to yourself.

[29]     I find that he continues to be a risk to you if you were to return to Jamaica, as he has continued to threaten to harm you through your parents.

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

[31]     I also find, based on a review of the National Documentation Package, that your fear is objectively well founded.

[32]     The National Documentation Package indicates that domestic violence is a serious and widespread problem in Jamaica.

[33]     According to one source:

[34]     “The incidence of violence against women in general and domestic violence in particular remains high. A number of factors continue to deter women from reporting and pursuing sexual offence cases, including victims’ and witnesses’ fear of reprisals and retaliation and delays in the judicial process.

[35]     Cases of gender-based violence also remain underreported due to the prevalence of social and cultural norms.

[36]     Legal protections for women are poorly enforced.

[37]     There are not currently any government-funded shelters, only one shelter operated by a non­governmental organization, and insufficient funding for police investigations or supportive services for victims.

[38]     Although there are a number of government plans and measures aimed at addressing gender­ based violence, including a national strategy plan of action, there is no current information on their operational effectiveness.”

[39]     I find that you haver a well-founded fear of persecution in Jamaica.

State Protection

[40]     States are presumed to be capable of protecting their own citizens, except in situations where the state is in a state of complete breakdown.

[41]     You have testified that you did not seek police assistance as the police are unable to effectively assist women in your country and you are afraid that if the police got involved, it would make the situation worse for you.

[42]     You are aware of a woman similarly situated in Jamaica who did seek police assistance and ended up being killed.

[42]     The Panel finds that you are unable to obtain adequate state protection based on the country conditions described in the National Documentation Package.

[43]     According to one source:

[44]     “There remains some challenges, including a reported lack of understanding and insufficient training by law enforcement personnel, such as police officers and judges.

[45]     Furthermore, the delayed judicial process and fear of reprisals continue to serve as a deterrent to reporting and prosecution.”

[46]     The country information is clear and convincing evidence that rebuts the presumption that adequate state protection is available to you in Jamaica.

[47]     The Panel therefore finds on a balance of probabilities that you cannot access adequate state protection in Jamaica.

Internal Flight Alternative

[48]     The Panel has also considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for you.

[49]     The country conditions described above exist throughout the country.

[50]     You testified that you believe Jamaica to be a small country and that XXXX would be able to find you if you returned, possibly through your work as a XXXX.

[51]     Furthermore, XXXX works as a XXXX, which means he moves about the country in the course of his work, thereby increasing the chances that he may locate you.

[52]     Based on the country conditions, the size of the country, and the agent of persecution’s profile, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution for you throughout Jamaica and therefore I find that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to you.

Conclusion

[53]     Based on the totality of the evidence, I find you to be a Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

– – – DECISION CONCLUDED – – –

Categories
All Countries Colombia

2019 RLLR 62

Citation: 2019 RLLR 62
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 29, 2019
Panel: David D’Intino
Counsel for the claimant(s): Michael Brodzky
Country: Colombia
RPD Number: TB8-10382
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-10409, TB8-10410
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000156-000166


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       [XXX] (the principal claimant), her daughter [XXX] and her son [XXX] (the minor claimants), are citizens of Colombia and claim refugee protection pursuant to ss. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).1

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The claimants’ allegations are fully set out in the principal claimant’s basis of claim (BOC) form2. To summarize, the principal claimant alleges a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground and a risk to life or of cruel and unusual punishment or treatment in Colombia by her ex-partner [XXX].

DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

[3]       The principal claimant was appointed as the Designated Representative for her minor children. She provided a written consent letter3 from her ex-spouse to take the children to Canada.

CHAIRPERSON’S GUIDELINES

[4]       In assessing the evidence of the principal claimant, I have considered the Chairperson’s Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution.4

DETERMINATION

[5]       The principal claimant is a Convention refugee, as she has demonstrated a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground, as a member of a particular social group – women fearing gender-related persecution.

[6]       The minor claimants are also Convention refugees, as they have demonstrated a serious possibility of persecution on Convention ground, as members of a particular social group – family members of the principal claimant.

ANALYSIS

Credibility

[7]       The principal claimant was a credible witness. Her testimony was consistent with the evidence in her narrative and she provided documentation which was corroborative of certain aspects of her claim. Her evidence was free from material contradictions or omissions and I find that she did not embellish her evidence.

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

a) The principal claimant met her former partner [XXX] in 2000 while working for his uncle’s company called [XXX]. She became pregnant after dating him for approximately one year and they moved in together in [XXX] of 2002;

b) [XXX] was affiliated with the Centro Democratico Party and worked on the campaign of one [XXX];

c) After living together for a while, [XXX] became verbally abusive by making hurtful comments about the principal claimant’s appearance. Once her daughter was born, the principal claimant became aware that [XXX] had other lovers and when she attempted to leave, [XXX] struck her, verbally accosted her, raped her and locked her in the apartment for three days;

d) On the third day, [XXX] came home with roses, food and apologies. He threatened the principal claimant that he would take their daughter away from him if she should ever leave;

e) [XXX] had asked his uncle, the couple’s employer, to start paying the principal claimant’s salary directly to him, as she was allegedly too irresponsible to handle the money herself. Thus, the principal claimant became totally dependent on her former partner;

f) In 2004, after being questioned by his uncle about bruises on her face, [XXX] forbade the principal claimant from working outside the home;

g) In 2012 the principal claimant became pregnant again, this time with a son;

h) In [XXX] 2013, while seven months pregnant, her former spouse raped her and beat her, causing her to enter a depressed state and to develop anemia which required hospitalization;

i) In [XXX] 2014, the principal claimant saw a psychologist who diagnosed her with [XXX] and [XXX];

j) In [XXX] of that year she worked up the courage to file a complaint with the Family Welfare Office. [XXX] showed up to a mediation session with a party colleague who convinced the social worker that the principal claimant was delusional. [XXX] later beat the principal claimant once again;

k) In [XXX] 2016, the principal claimant was alerted by her daughter’s teacher that [XXX] was unhappy and uncommunicative. She was taken to therapy where she was diagnosed with [XXX], [XXX] and [XXX] and ordered to attend further clinical intervention;

l) In [XXX] of 2017, [XXX] invited some of his associates over to the house for dinner. One was an unsavory youth nicknamed [XXX] made appalling comments about [XXX]’ s mature appearance, and referred to her as his “princess”. The youth was openly glaring at [XXX] the whole time;

m) In [XXX] of 2017, the principal claimant found her daughter’s diary while cleaning the house. In it were passages that referred to her inability to cope with the family abuse and that she would rather be dead;

n) At the end of that month, the principal claimant went to the Court in Tulua to seek a restraining order against [XXX]. When the official heard his name, he looked mockingly at the principal claimant and told her without evidence nothing could be done;

o) On Tuesday [XXX], 2017 XXXX came home livid because he learned about the judicial complaint. When the principal claimant showed him the psychiatrist’s notes about their daughter, he went crazy and began hitting the principal claimant and threatened to kill her and the doctor if she kept divulging that [XXX] has mental health issues;

p) On Saturday of that same week, [XXX] showed up with three men to the principal claimant’s stepmother’s home. The two ladies were alone at the time. The men flashed their firearms and began insulting them. [XXX] then bragged about his affiliation with the Los Urabeños criminal group and that he was sent by [XXX] to tell her she had 24 hours to return home or die, and if she disappeared, [XXX] promised him “her princess” as a present;

q) The principal claimant’s stepmother managed to record some of the conversation on her phone. The principal claimant then phoned [XXX] and threatened to expose him and his ties to the Urabeños if he did not leave her and her daughter alone;

r) On [XXX], 2017 the principal claimant called [XXX] and told him to provide her with a consent letter via post to her parents’ house, where it was retrieved by a neighbour;

s) The claimants left Colombia on [XXX], 2017 filed their basis of claim forms on March 28, 2018;

NEXUS

[9]       Based on the above facts, I find that the principal claimant was the victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse by her former spouse. As such, I find that she has a nexus to the Convention by virtue of her membership in a particular social group – women fearing gender­ related persecution. I find that but for her gender, she would not have been subject to the various forms of violence she suffered at the hands of [XXX].

[10]     The minor claimants [XXX] and [XXX] in my view also have a nexus to the Convention as family members of the principal claimant. The effect of the household domestic violence on [XXX] is particularly acute as evidenced by the psychological documentation filed by the principal claimant. However, it is clear that both children have been threatened and face a future serious possibility of persecution as family members of the principal claimant should they return to Colombia.

SUBJECTIVE FEAR

[11]     The principal claimant tried to leave the relationship three times, twice by filing complaints with the authorities. Each attempt was unsuccessful and resulted in future violence and sexual abuse.

[12]     The principal claimant fled to her parents’ house on [XXX], 2017 and remained there until leaving for Canada the next month. She filed for refugee protection in Canada within a reasonable time, while she had lawful status in Canada courtesy of a previously obtained VISA;

[13]     When the domestic violence began to affect her daughter, the principal claimant took steps to address the mental health issues which arose therefrom.

[14]     All of these actions are consistent with a person that fears their spouse and therefore I find that the principal claimant has demonstrated a subjective fear of persecution.

OBJECTIVE BASIS

Documentary Evidence

[15]     Exhibit 4 contains approximately 11 items, 36 pages in total. This documentation includes two psychological reports and one medical report, as well as excerpts from [XXX]’s journal which support the principal claimant’s allegations that [XXX] was abusive to the principal claimant and verbally abusive to the minor female claimant. It also supports the assertion that the abuse took such a toll on [XXX] that she was preparing to commit suicide.

[16]     The principal claimant has also provided photographs5 and website print outs6 which show her spouse at various events with Senate candidate [XXX], Former President Alvaro Uribe and current President Ivan Duque, among others.

Country Documentation

[17]     The National Documentation Package (NDP) for Colombia indicates that domestic violence is so pervasive and normalized in that country, that it has become virtually invisible to authorities and citizens alike.7 Women are unlike to report such violence to the authorities as they fear being stigmatized or re-victimized by state institutions, and as such spousal abuse – and specifically spousal rape – remains a “serious problem” in the country.8

[18]     In considering the totality of the documentary evidence, I find that the principal claimant has established an objective basis for her fear of persecution on a Convention ground, as well as the children’s fears.

STATE PROTECTION

[19]     The principal claimant alleges that Colombia has failed to protect her from her husband to date and should she return to Colombia, the state would be unwilling or unable to provide her and her children with adequate state protection.

[20]     According to the NDP for Colombia9:

According to the 2015 National Survey on Demographics and Health, 76.4 percent of women never sought help in cases of violence committed against them (Colombia 2015, 84). The same source indicates that, in cases where the violence was reported, 40.3 percent were reported at a police station, 37.2 percent at the FGR, 19 percent at a Family Commissary, 7.1 percent at “another institution,” and 2.4 percent at a court (Colombia 2015, 83-84). Of all reported cases by women victims of violence, the aggressor was penalized in 21.1 percent of the cases, the victim was summoned to conciliation in 29.5 percent of the cases, the aggressor was not penalized or did not appear in 28.2 percent of the cases, the aggressor was ordered not to go near the victim in 22.1 percent of the cases, and in 5.7 percent the aggressor was prohibited from going back into the home (Colombia 2015, 84). In 4.7 percent of the cases that were reported, the violence did not stop, and in 2.3 percent it got worse (Colombia 2015, 84).

A report sent to Congress by the President’s High Commissioner for Women’s Equality, regarding the implementation of Law 1257 of 2008, states that, in 2014, the FGN received 74,899 cases of intra-family violence, with charges laid in 10 percent of the cases and a conviction rate of 23 percent (Colombia 26 Jan. 2017). In 2015 the number of cases received was 85,040, with charges laid in 12 percent of the cases and a conviction rate of 24 percent (Colombia 26 Jan. 2017). The same report states that, despite the increase in the rate of charges being laid, that rate remains “very low, ” and the investigation and prosecution of intra-family violence cases remains “insufficient” and the conviction rate “deficient” (Colombia 26 Jan. 2017).

Country Reports 2016 states that, according to women’s groups such as Sisma Mujer, law enforcement response is “generally ineffective” (US 3 Mar. 2017, 37).

[21]     The NDP further states that due to the prevalence of domestic violence throughout the country and a corresponding lack of resources, the state response to such violence is “insufficient”. As such, spousal abusers are able to act with relative “impunity” in Colombia.10

[22]     This information certainly accords with the evidence of the principal claimant with regard to her attempts to obtain protection prior to her coming to Canada.

[23]     This of course does not take into account the profile of the agent of persecution which in my view, only further supports the inference that state protection for this family is not available in Colombia.

[24]     The ties between the political class and the various criminal groups in Colombia are well documented and date as far back as the 1960’s and 70’s.11 The principal claimant alleges that but for the threat delivered to her at her step-mother’s home, she would not have believed that [XXX] had ties to the Urabeños, but that was the threat and she believed it capable of being carried out.

[25]     The National Documentation Package for Colombia (NDP) indicates that the Urabeños are now the dominant criminal band with the “biggest presence in Colombia” and the ability to “interfere  at  the  national  level.”12 The  International  Criminal  Court  describes  the  Urabeños  as highly organized and able to exert effective control over its members.13 The Urabeños operate through a criminal network composed of nodes that “answer to central command,” and are known to use extortion, threats, killings, and other forms of violence including “kidnapping and selective assassination.”14

[26]     On a balance of probabilities, and in light of the claimants’ particular circumstances, I find that there is clear and convincing evidence that the Colombian state would be unable to provide the claimant with adequate protection. The principal claimant provided reliable and trustworthy evidence of her efforts to obtain state protection, and aside from issuing a report and offering to investigate, the Colombian authorities did not provide specific protection measures.

[27]     The NDP indicates that when victims of armed groups complain to Colombian authorities, the state is often unable to offer operationally adequate protection. This is due in part to the “overwhelming caseload” of prosecutors and “inadequate official investigation” which has “made it difficult to address threats, attacks and killings.”15 This is especially the case for those who are not “high profile”16 as the National Protection Unit (UNP) in Colombia focuses on persons “given their position or activities, [who] may be subjected to extraordinary or extreme risk,”17 such as well-known human rights defenders. The “vast majority of victims of criminal groups do not receive protection.”18

[28]     The NDP indicates that authorities have “failed to curb the power of criminal groups” and crimes committed by neo-paramilitary groups are “sometimes committed with the collusion or acquiescence of the security forces.”19 Indeed, neo-paramilitary groups are known to use ties to Colombian officials in order to “avoid prosecution” and Colombian police officers have been seen “meeting with members of criminal groups, including the Urabeños.”20

[29]     I note that Colombian authorities have undertaken efforts to capture members of the Urabeños.21 However, even if the perpetrators are incarcerated, they can continue to “use alliances outside to take revenge.”22 The preponderance of the evidence before me is both clear and convincing and rebuts the presumption of state protection in the claimant’s particular circumstances. I find on a balance of probabilities, that that the Colombian state is unable to provide the claimants with adequate protection from either [XXX] or the Urabeños.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE

[30]     I also considered whether a viable Internal Flight Alternative (IFA) exists for the claimants in Barranquilla and Tunja. The former city is [XXX]-hour drive or [XXX] kilometers from her former residence and the latter [XXX]-hour drive or [XXX] kilometers.

[31]     I must consider a two-prong test in order to determine the viability of an IFA location.23 Firstly, I must be satisfied that, on a balance of probabilities, the claimants would not face a serious possibility of persecution or section 97 risk in the proposed IFA. Secondly, I must be satisfied that it would not be unreasonable, in all of the circumstances, including those particular to the claimants, for them to seek refuge there.

[32]     In determining whether [XXX] and the Urabeños have both the means and motivation to locate the claimant in the proposed IFA locations, I have considered the Urabeños area of operation, its ability to track its victims across Colombia, as well as its level of interest in the claimants. I have also considered the profile of the agent of persecution illustrated by the principal claimant in her testimony.

[33]     With respect to [XXX], the principal claimant alleges that due to his involvement with the Centro Democratico party, he could use his “contacts” to locate her throughout Colombia. She further testifies that this could be done via access to government databases that contain biographical information which must be kept updated in order to access education, health care, exercise voting rights, etc.

[34]     I have examined the NDP for Colombia, particularly Item 10.2 which is dedicated to privacy and data security. This document discusses the legal rights Colombians have over their own data and incidents of misuse. I do not find any support in this document for the claimant’s suggestion that [XXX] or his colleagues in the Democratic Party could track the principal claimant throughout Colombia or that they would even have access to any of these databases.

[35]     The Urabeños are not present in Barranquilla or Tunja according to the NDP.24 However, the Urabeños have a national reach and the ability to operate across the country.25 Human Rights Watch notes that “that there have been documented cases of people being tracked down by the Urabeños after fleeing to other parts of the country.”26 The Urabeños as an organization don’t appear to have any interest in the claimants, save and except on the part of “[XXX]” who approached the claimant purportedly on behalf of [XXX].

[36]     Neither the principal claimant nor her family members have heard from the Urabeños since this single incident in [XXX] of 2017. They have not heard from [XXX] since mid-2018. The principal claimant has no information regarding any recent attempts by either party to locate her and the children.

[37]     I find that based on the information in the NDP and that filed by counsel, the Urabeños have the means to locate the claimant throughout Colombia should [XXX] direct them to do so. It does not appear they have a motive to locate the claimants on their own accord, but the [XXX] 17, 2017 incident demonstrates a willingness to intimidate and threaten the principal claimant and her family at the behest of [XXX].

[38]     I therefore find, on a balance of probabilities that a viable IFA does not exist for the claimants in Colombia, including in Barranquilla and Tunja, which is both safe and reasonable for them.

CONCLUSION

[39]     I find that the claimants are all Convention refugees pursuant to s. 96 of IRPA. The principal claimant has demonstrated a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground which exists throughout Colombia, as a woman fearing gender-based persecution.

[40]     Her claim is therefore accepted.

[41]     I find that the minor claimants both face a serious possibility of persecution as members of a particular social group – family members of the principal claimant. This possibility exists throughout Colombia, and I find that they too are Convention refugees as per s. 96 of IRPA.

[42]     Their claims are also accepted.

(signed)           David D’Intino

October 29, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), SC 2001, c 27, as amended
2 Exhibit 2.1
3 Exhibit 4.
4 https://irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/legal-policy/policies/Pages/chairperson-guideline.aspx
5 Exhibit 7.
6 Exhibit 8.
7 Exhibit 3. National Documentation Package for Colombia (May 31, 2019 version) Item 5.4 at pg 1.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid at pgs 6-7
10 Ibid at pg 8.
11 NDP for Colombia. Item 7.20.
12 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Colombia Item 7.2, at p. 5, 13.
13 Exhibit 3 Item 7.15, at p. 3.
14 Exhibit 3 Item 7.2, at p. 12; Item 7.15, at p. 3, 4; Item 7.18, at p. 5.
15 Exhibit 3 Item 7.8, at p. 27; Item 1.7, at p. 19.
16 Exhibit 3 Item 1.7.
17 Exhibit 3, Item 7.3, at p. 1.
18 Exhibit 3, NDP for Colombia Item 7.15, at p. 20.
19 Exhibit 3, NDP for Colombia Item 7.15, at p. 19.
20 Exhibit 3, NDP for Colombia), Item 7.2, at p. 12; Item 7.15, at p. 15.
21 Exhibit 3, NDP for Colombia Item 7.15, at p. 19.
22 Exhibit 3, NDP for Colombia Item 1.7, at p. 33.
23 Thirunavukkarasu v. Canada (MEI), 1993 CanLII 3011, paras. 5-6, 14; Rasaratnam v. Canada (MEI), [1992] 1 FC
706, at p. 710.

Categories
All Countries Qatar

2019 RLLR 59

Citation: 2019 RLLR 59
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 14, 2019
Panel: K. Genjaga
Counsel for the claimant(s): Howard P Eisenberg
Country: Qatar
RPD Number: TB8-07897
ATIP Number: A-2020-01274
ATIP Pages: 000139-000144


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: We’re back on the record. All parties are present and the claimant’s brother whose joined us today can you translate that?

[2]       INTERPRETER: Yes I’m going to.

[3]       MEMBER: Okay.

[4]       INTERPRETER: Can you repeat just slowly like (inaudible)

[5]       MEMBER: Sure the claimant’s brother has joined us now for the delivery of the decision.

[6]       Okay so during the break counsel has advised that the claimant understands enough English for the purposes of delivering the decision. So we can excuse you after you finish.

[7]       INTERPRETER: Okay, okay thank you.

[8]       MEMBER: Okay. Okay so thank you Madame Interpreter.

[9]       INTERPRETER: You’re welcome I really apologize for being late but that map quest drove me crazy.

[10]     MEMBER: Okay.

[11]     INTERPRETER: My husband is not here I’m going to sponsor him, he’s in Lebanon to same.

[12]     COUNSEL: Okay perfect thank you.

[13]     MEMBER: Thank you.

[14]     INTERPRETER: It was a pleasure.

[15]     MEMBER: Thank you.

[16]     Okay I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in this case and I’m ready to render my decision orally. I’d like to add that in the event that written are issued a written form of these reasons may be edited for spelling, syntax and grammar and references to applicable case law and documentary evidence may also be included.

[17]     The claimant sorry [XXX] claims to be a stateless Palestinian claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[18]     In deciding your claim I have considered your testimony and the documentary evidence filed. In addition I have considered the guidelines on women refugee claimants fearing gender related persecution.

[19]     Your allegations are set out in your basis of claim form which is found in Exhibit number 2. The following is a brief summary of your allegations.

[20]     In 1978 you allege that your father and mother moved to Qatar from Lebanon. In 1981 you allege that you were born in Qatar. In your father or under your father’s sponsorship while you were growing up and attending school in Qatar subsequently your father ended up going, retiring his sponsorship was transferred to another company in Qatar and in your brother in Canada here ended up sponsoring your mother and your father to come to Canada.

[21]     They ended up coming here in 2014. You ended up working at [XXX] for the period from 2010t to the period of 2016 upon which you were also let go. During that particular time you ended up transferring back to your father’s sponsorship for a brief period.

[22]     You ended up going to Lebanon in [XXX] of 2017 to renew your Lebanese travel document and during that time you visited your sister in [XXX] in a Lebanese camp. Subsequently due to the violence that was going on in that particular camp and gunfire you ended up cancelling your trip and ended up going back to Qatar. You tried to find other employment and you had difficulty.

[23]     You ended up coming to Canada on [XXX] 2018 and made an inland claim for refugee protection and subsequently to you being here in Canada your residency permit from Qatar was cancelled due to the fact that you had been out of the country or that particular country for more than six months.

[24]     I find that you are a Convention refugee based on the grounds of membership in a particular social group that being of a female fearing gender related persecution in Qatar for the following reasons.

[25]     Your identity as a stateless Palestinian is established by your testimony and the supporting documentation filed namely a Lebanese travel document issued to stateless Palestinians which appears in Exhibit number 1.

[26]     I find you to be a very credible witness and therefore believe what you have alleged in support of your claim. You have testified in straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me.

[27]     You did not exaggerate or embellish your claim. You also have provided extensive personal documents in Exhibit 7, 8, 9 and 10 to support your life in Qatar and also support your family’s connections to Lebanon.

[28]     These documents include your status in Qatar it also includes your university documents from the [XXX] University. It also includes your secondary education certificates, your birth certificate, your [XXX] (ph) document it also includes your driver’s license, letters of support from your family and therefore the panel believes your story in support of your claim.

[29]     There was one concern the panel had which was your failure to claim in the United States or in other countries prior to 2015, however you have provided a reasonable explanation, that during those periods of time you had a job in Qatar and also you had family still in Qatar and your problems only arose after your family had left Qatar and came to Canada. Therefore the panel did not draw a negative inference as to your credibility.

[30]     Now as for the objective documentary evidence which appears in Exhibit 7b, 7c, 8, 10, 11 and 12 they also support the problem that you may have as a single woman living without a male relatives in Qatar.

[31]     The panel finds that you are a stateless Palestinian you spent all of your life in Qatar even though that you have made visits to Lebanon during your formative years and that you do have some connection to Lebanon as your parents and relatives, your parents were born there.

[32]     Some of your siblings were born there, you also have a sibling who’s still there and even though the panel did not find that as a formal country of habitual residence we proceeded, I don’t want to belabor that point but a lot of time was spent regarding establishing your connection to Lebanon. The panel is making this decision squarely on you would have problems going back to your formal habitual residence of Qatar.

[33]     In Qatar you only have a temporary status, you do not have the same rights as Qatari nationals and you’re not allowed to own your own home or work at certain jobs. You do not have access to public healthcare or education, you had to pay for that on your own and you would also face difficulties the panel finds on a balance of probabilities of finding a job in part because you’re Palestinian and you hold a Lebanese travel document.

[34]     The documentary evidence indicates quite clearly in some of the exhibits that a resident, that you can’t be outside of your country of formal habitual residence Qatar longer than six months. Some people, the documentary evidence also indicates that you might be able to obtain permission to enter but you had to have to obtain it prior to departure.

[35]     You can’t necessarily get it now that you are out of the country. There’s a different set of rules that would apply to you and I believe that particular time period has elapsed. According to the fact that your residence permit has now expired and I do agree that the documentary evidence does support that you can’t enter unless an employer hires you from overseas. So and that’s not the case that we have here today.

[36]     So as a result you can’t return there, that’s one condition that I have to find. You left Qatar in [XXX] 2018 and you can no longer return using your previous residency permit and consequently the documentary evidence also indicates that, that you need to obtain a sponsor.

[37]     Foreign workers have to get the employers consent, have to be able to change jobs. The sponsor controls whether the employee, certain aspects of the employees, existence in that particular country and because you would have an uncertain immigration status in Qatar. Those particular sponsorship rules still apply to you but in any event because you are Palestinian your status in Qatar could only be temporary.

[38]     Now the area that I particularly focused on in this decision is the fact of the documentary evidence which appears in 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 pertaining to gender issues. The fact that you would have no sponsor, no male guardian there, I find that cumulatively amounts to discrimination in your particular case as a Palestinian woman.

[39]     2.1 of Exhibit number 6 indicates there’s human rights problems of for women, there’s the guardianship system in place that requires every woman to have a close male relative as her guardian with legal authority to approve whether she works there, files any kind of legal or goes to the police. It also notes that widespread societal exclusion exists for statist institutions in terms of recognizing single women’s rights.

[40]     In addition you may face discrimination in courts and also discrimination under family law because women are not treated as an equal member in society and many laws discriminate against them in Qatar.

[41]     And normally the documentary evidence is also in 5.1 it talks about that husband nor the closest male relative has to set up or has to be involved in the woman’s daily life. I find that this is persecutory in this particular case it would impose important obstacles for your own autonomy to find your own job and would possibly prevent you from renting on your own and it would also limit the range of full activities that you would be able to do on your own in society.

[42]     Therefore I find that there’s more than a mere possibility of treatment amounting to persecution in Qatar in your case. I also find that because these are the laws of the land that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection in this case.

[43]     I also find that there would be no alternative flight alternative in Qatar because this would be the situation that you would face wherever you go and therefore I conclude that you are a Convention refugee and accept you claim.

[44]     In addition I also find that you cannot return to your formal habitual country of residence in this particular case.

[45]     Thank you and welcome to Canada. Thank you I wish to thank you for coming to tell your story and I wish to thank counsel for your participation and everybody have a good afternoon.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-