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2019 RLLR 147

Citation: 2019 RLLR 147
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 7, 2019
Panel: H. Ross
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Howard Gilbert
Country: Czech Republic
RPD Number: TB6-04818
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000040-000051

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       [XXX], the principal claimant, [XXX] and [XXX] (a.k.a. [XXX]) claim protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)1

[2]       In accordance with Rule 55 of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) Rules the claims were heard jointly,2 with the principal claimant being designated the representative for the three minor claimants.3 

ALLEGATIONS 

[3]       The claimants rely on the allegations set out in the narrative portion of the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim Form (BOC)4. Briefly, the claimants allege a well-founded fear of persecution in the Czech Republic due to their Roma ethnicity. They claim to be afraid of the ethnic Czech population, racist elements in Czech society, namely, skinheads and the police. The claimants also state that they do not have a reasonable expectation of state protection, as whenever they have made attempts to obtain state protection, the police did not respond to their attempts. 

DETERMINATION 

[4]       For the following reasons, the panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees. 

ISSUES 

[5]       The determinative issue in the claim is credibility. At issue also is the claimants’ delay in claiming protection, and their failure to claim protection in the United States (US). 

ANALYSIS 

Identity 

[6]       The panel finds that the claimants’ identities as nationals of the Czech Republic are established by the copies of their passports, found in Exhibit 1.5 

[7]       The panel also finds that the claimants’ ethnic profiles as Roma persons is satisfactorily established on the basis of the principal claimant’s testimony, the attestation from the Roma Community Centre,6 and also by the fact that during the hearing, interpretation services were provided using the Romungro dialect of the Roma language. 

Credibility 

[8]       In assessing the credibility of the claimants’ allegations of discrimination, the panel noted that there were several issues relevant to the assessment, namely the principal claimant’s failure to claim protection in US, his re-availment of the protection of the Czech Republic, and his delay in claiming protection once the claimants arrived in Canada. The panel considered each of these issues in turn. 

Delay in claiming 

[9]       The claimants arrived in Canada on [XXX] 2016, and made claims for protection on or about [XXX] 2016.7 A witness, [XXX], was called to explain the delay in claiming.8 She provided a number of reasons for the delay, including that she had to meet with the claimants several times before the forms were completed. The panel considered her evidence, as well as the length of the delay in assessing the impact of the delay on the claimants’ credibility. The delay is was six weeks. The panel concluded that when the totality of the circumstances is considered, a six-week delay is not so lengthy as to seriously impugn the credibility of the claimants. 

Failure to claim elsewhere/re-availment 

[10]     The principal claimant travelled to the US in 2012, but did not make a claim for asylum. He testified that having travelled to the US on a temporary work programme, and being alone in the US, he only wanted to return to his family. He explained that had he claimed asylum in the US, he likely would have been separated from them for a long time, something that he did not want to do. 

[11]     Counsel submitted that the principal claimant had provided a reasonable explanation for his failure to claim asylum in the US, and why he returned to the Czech Republic. On considering the principal claimant’s explanation, the panel concluded that the explanation was credible, in the circumstances of the family being a young family. Accordingly, the panel finds that the credibility of the principal claimant was not undermined by the fact that he did not claim protection in the US and returned to the Czech Republic. 

Did the claimants experience discrimination? 

[12]     In their BOC, the claimants alleged a well-founded fear of persecution in the Czech Republic due to their Roma ethnicity.9 In their amended narrative, they detailed their living circumstances which they described as poor and crowded.10 The settlement in which they lived was primitive, its roads were unpaved, there was no running water, garbage pickup was sporadic. In addition, the settlement was not serviced by public transportation. The claimant alleged that conditions in similar Czech communities was radically different from those in the Roma settlement. The principal claimant testified that he made several attempts to find alternate housing through government agencies, but was turned down at each attempt. 

[13]     The principal claimant testified as to the difficulties he and the other claimants encountered in public places and in obtaining publicly-available services. His cited incidents where he and his family were refused service in restaurants, followed in stores, as well as being attacked and beaten on public transit. Although the claimants turned to the police for assistance, the police did not act on their reports. 

[14]     In response to the panel, the principal claimant described the following incidents of discrimination: 

a) being refused employment that had been promised to him through agent; 

b) being refused public housing although such housing was available; 

c) being constantly humiliated in public spaces, particularly in shops where the family was followed; and 

d) the family was refused service in restaurants. 

[15]     The principal claimant alleged that the family’s Roma ethnicity was the sole reason for the discriminatory treatment meted out to him and the associate claimants. 

[16]     In the instant case, the discriminatory acts include being refused employment some 30-40 times. The principal claimant alleged he had been unemployed since 1998.11 He testified that he made some 30-40 unsuccessful attempts to finds work. As he did not speak the Czech language well, a Czech speaking friend would call the prospective employer on his behalf. Assured that there was work to be had, the principal claimant would then report to the workplace. Invariably, he would then be told that there was no work. The principal claimant cites this situation as an example of anti-Roma racism. The panel is not entirely persuaded of his position, because it can be argued that the employer never agreed to hire the principal claimant. He was intending to hire the Czech speaking person to whom he spoke. Put simply, the principal claimant was not the person the employers were expecting. In the result, the panel is not persuaded that the principal claimant’s ethnicity was the only deciding factor at play. 

[17]     With respect to their treatment in the public sphere, the panel finds that following the claimants while they shopped and refusing entry into restaurants, without justification, are clearly discriminatory acts. 

[18]     The principal claimant also described the following incidents: 

• in the summer of 2015, an ice cream parlour refused to serve his wife and son; 

• that same summer, the principal claimant’s mother and son were ejected from coffee shop; 

• substandard medical care – Roma forced to wait or pay for services that should be free; 

• intimidation by skinheads – in [XXX] 2013 about 80 skinheads marched through their community, screaming insults and beating Roma. The police took no action when complaints were made, although the complainants were able to describe their attackers; and 

• in [XXX] 2014, the principal claimant and his spouse were attacked in a similar fashion. They went to a hospital and after a three to four hour wait, they were told that the doctor was too busy to see them. They went to the police station where they made a complaint. When they followed up two weeks later, the police informed them that the case was closed due to a lack of information. 

[19]     The panel finds that these actions are all clearly discriminatory in nature. In fact, the [XXX] 2013 incident is clearly of a criminal nature. 

The documentary evidence 

[20]     The Board’s documentary evidence stated that racial discrimination is widespread in the Czech Republic. The Report of the Czech Ombudsman Office cites the following statistic: 

Racial or ethnicity-based discrimination is perceived as the most frequent type of discrimination in the Czech Republic. Almost two thirds of respondents believe it is widespread, one fifth even believes it is extremely widespread.12 

[21]     With respect to the perception of how readily redress for discrimination is available, report goes on to note that: 

[t]he respondents are very sceptical in rating the chances of the victims to assert their rights. Only 15 % believe that it is easy to get help for the victims of discrimination; and only 2 % of the respondents find the redress very easy. On the other hand, three quarters of the respondents think that it is difficult to invoke their rights, and more than one quarter consider it to be very difficult.13 

[22]     The US Department of State (DOS) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018 in the Czech Republic, identifies “crimes involving violence or threats of violence” against members of the Roma population as among the human rights issues prevalent in that country.14 Amnesty International makes specific reference to the ruling of the police in the death of a Roma man who died while being restrained by municipal officers and employees of a pizzeria as a result of his allegedly aggressive behaviour.15 The police discontinued their investigation finding that no crime had been committed. 

[23]     In its latest report, the US DOS states the following regarding the treatment of Roma persons: 

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 

There were approximately 300,000 Roma in the country, and many faced varying levels of discrimination in education, employment, and housing and have high levels of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy. 

Hate crimes against Roma continued to be a problem… Observers reported hate crimes are not sufficiently recognized by police, prosecutors, and judges, who often lacked will or adequate knowledge. 

[… ] 

Despite legislative measures aimed at desegregation of Roma in education, according to a Ministry of Education study, more than 29 percent of students in special schools were Roma, compared with 3.6 percent in regular elementary schools. After the introduction in 2017 of a free compulsory year of preprimary education at the age of five to six years old, the enrollment of Romani children in kindergartens increased slightly but remained markedly below the levels for non­ Romani peers. To support desegregation of Roma in schools, the government increased funding to provide additional support to students with special needs in mainstream schools. 

Approximately one-third of Roma lived in “excluded localities” or ghettos. While the law prohibits housing discrimination based on ethnicity, NGOs stated that some municipalities discriminated against certain socially disadvantaged groups, primarily Roma, basing their decisions not to provide housing on the allegedly bad reputation of Romani applicants from previous residences. 

The 2017 amendment to the law on persons with material need, which was intended to solve housing problems, in some cases had the opposite effect. The amendment allowed cities to declare certain areas as having an “increased occurrence of socially undesirable activity”. In such designated zones the government paid only a part of housing subsidies. Some cities started to use this instrument to get rid of Roma and other low-income citizens. 

In September the European Roma Rights Center criticized President Zeman for his negative statements on Roma and in an open letter called for his resignation. 

Zeman had stated that the unemployed persons in one of the country’s villages he visited were exactly the Roma who were forced to work during communism under the threat of imprisonment. 

Roma were the most frequent targets of hate speech on internet. 

In September the district court in Tachov fined a woman 20,000 koruna ($800) for posting threatening comments on the internet under a school photo of first graders from a local school. The children were mainly Romani, Arab, and Vietnamese, and the comments suggested sending them to gas chambers, shooting them, or throwing a hand grenade into the classroom. Police did not originally qualify the incident as a hate speech offense, but the supreme prosecutor requested a further investigation that led to the conviction.16 

[24]     The panel takes the documentary evidence to indicate that, in the Czech Republic, there is widespread discrimination against Roma persons. The panel finds that the claimants have clearly experienced discrimination. 

Discrimination as opposed to persecution 

[25]     The issue for this panel is whether the discrimination these claimants experienced in the Czech Republic has risen to the level of persecution such as to bring them within the Convention refugee definition. Counsel for the claimant took the position that it has. He described the situation for Roma in the Czech Republic as being dire. He argues that the discrimination that Roma, in general, and the claimants in particular, experience in the Czech Republic has risen to the level of persecution. 

[26]     The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Handbook and Guidelines discusses the issue of discrimination, noting the following: 

54. Differences in the treatment of various groups do indeed exist to a greater or lesser extent in many societies. Persons who receive less favourable treatment as a result of such differences are not necessarily victims of persecution. It is only in certain circumstances that discrimination will amount to persecution. This would be so if measures of discrimination lead to consequences of a substantially prejudicial nature for the person concerned, e.g. serious restrictions on his right to earn his livelihood, his right to practise his religion, or his access to normally available educational facilities. 

55. Where measures of discrimination are, in themselves, not of a serious character, they may nevertheless give rise to a reasonable fear of persecution if they produce, in the mind of the person concerned, a feeling of apprehension and insecurity as regards his future existence. Whether or not such measures of discrimination in themselves amount to persecution must be determined in the light of all the circumstances. A claim to fear of persecution will of course be stronger where a person has been the victim of a number of discriminatory measures of this type and where there is thus a cumulative element involved.17 

[27]     The UNHCR document provides guidance in the determination of whether the experiences of a claimant have, cumulatively, risen to the level of persecution. The Federal Court in Liang, citing paragraphs 54 and 55 of the UNHCR Handbook, affirmed that in the exercise of determining whether cumulative discrimination and harassment constitutes persecution, it is necessary to “evaluate the claimant’s personal circumstances and vulnerabilities including age, health, and finances … “18 

[28]     The principal claimant’s personal circumstances include a low level of education, limited employment prospects, and limited finances. Balanced against these are the facts that he is relatively young ([XXX]), and in good health. This is also true of the female claimant. 

[29]     The claimants allege, and their counsel submits, that the measures of discrimination they faced in the Czech Republic has led to consequences of a substantially prejudicial nature for them, namely serious restrictions on their access to normally available educational facilities and their right to earn their livelihoods. In addition, counsel submits that, as Lovari, the claimants are made particularly vulnerable to discrimination. While conceding that many Roma are well integrated into Czech society, counsel described the [XXX] as being among the most excluded group of Roma in the Czech Republic. He stated that they, along with the [XXX], tended to live in isolated communities and were susceptible to the types of discriminatory practices the documentary evidence speaks to. 

[30]     In its report, Freedom House, estimated that the size of the Roma population in the Czech Republic was about 250,000 persons.19 Freedom House stated that Roma face “occasional threats and violence from right-wing groups.”20 

[31]     The panel finds the two reports to be reliable, as the information they contain originates from sources that have an awareness of the situation of Roma in the Czech Republic. The sources cite information from NGOs and appear to be unbiased. Moreover, while the two reports are distinct, they contain and confirm substantially similar information. The panel gives significant weight to this objective information. 

[32]     Nonetheless, in assessing whether the discrimination the claimants experienced has risen to the level of persecution, the panel is mindful of the dicta of the Federal Court in Liang, regarding the necessity of evaluating a claimant’s personal circumstances and vulnerabilities including age, health, and finances when determining whether cumulative discrimination and harassment constitutes persecution.21 

[33]     The principal claimant’s personal circumstances are that: 

• he is from one of the groups of Roma that are not integrated into Czech society; 

• he lacks much formal education, does not speak the Czech language well, and has considerable difficulty finding employment; 

• he is relatively young, with a growing family; and 

• he and his family members have personally suffered a number of racist incidents, including witnessing an intimidatory march of skinheads through their community and an attack by skinheads in [XXX] 2014. 

[34]     In considering whether the incidents of discrimination amount, on a cumulative basis, to persecution, the panel is not persuaded that being refused service at an ice-cream parlour or being asked to leave a café amounts to persecution. Unpleasant yes, embarrassing, yes, but these appear to have been isolated incidents for which there may or may not be other explanations, which were not disclosed to the panel. 

[35]     The march through the claimant’s community was patently intended to frighten and intimidate all of the Roma in the community. The DOS Report indicates that: 

Human rights issues included crimes involving violence or threats of violence against members of the Romani minority. 

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses in the security services and elsewhere in the government.22 

[36]     In the panel’s view, this speaks to the willingness of Czech authorities to investigate and prosecute offences against the Roma and other minorities, which is at odds with the claimants’ position that state protection will not be available to them. 

[37]     The result is that it is not clear to the panel that the incidents of discrimination the claimants complain of rise to the level of persecution. At the same time, the panel is also mindful of the statements in paragraph 55 of the UNHCR Handbook relating to cumulative discrimination. In particular, the effect of the measures of discrimination on the mind of the claimants. In testimony, the principal claimant discussed the effect the various incidents have had on him. The panel found him to be largely credible, as he answered all questions put to him without seeming exaggeration or subterfuge. He expressed his apprehension of returning to the Czech Republic, and the certain discrimination he and his family would face. The panel is not an expert in [XXX] issues. However, it finds that, in all the circumstances of the case, including the principal claimant’s personal circumstances, the cumulative effect of the discriminatory incidents was that they have created a feeling of apprehension and insecurity in the mind of the principal claimant, as regards his future existence and that of his family if returned to the Czech Republic. The panel finds that this apprehension is not limited to their financial existence, as the principal claimant could go abroad to earn money as he has already done. 

The claims of the associate claimants 

[38]     As stated earlier, each associate claimant relies on the same set of circumstances as the principal claimant. The panel finds that they have established a nexus to the Convention refugee definition as members of a particular social group, namely, family members of the principal claimant, as well as by virtue of their Roma ethnicity. As such, the panel determines that the outcomes of their claims will be similar to that of the principal claimant. 

CONCLUSION 

[39]     For the reasons provided, the panel finds that there is a reasonable chance that the principal claimant would be persecuted on the ground of his Roma ethnicity if returned to the Czech Republic. The panel determines the principal claimant to be a Convention refugee. His claim for protection is accepted. 

[40]     The panel makes a similar determination with respect to the associate claimants. Their claims are also accepted. 

(signed) H. Ross 

January 7, 2019 

1 The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C.2001, c.27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Refugee Protection Division (RPD) Rules SOR/2012-256, Rule 55.
3 Ibid., Rule 20.
4 Exhibits 2, Basis of Claim Form (BOC)-TB6-04818.
5 Exhibit 1, Package of Information from the Referring CBSA/CIC, Certified True Copies of Passports.
6 Exhibit 11, Personal Disclosure received July 19, 2019, at p. 1.
7 Exhibit 1, Package of Information from the Referring CBSA/CIC, Generic Application Form for Canada.
8 Exhibit 12, Personal Disclosure received July 19, 2019.
9 Exhibits 2-6, BOCs.
10 Exhibit 10, BOC Amendment.
11 Exhibit 1, Package of Information from the Referring CBSA/CIC, Schedule A Form.
12 Exhibit 7, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Czech Republic (March 29, 2019), item 13.4.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid., item 2.1.
15 Ibid, item 2.2
16 Ibid., item 2.1.
17 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, NCR/IP/4/REV.1, Reedited, Geneva, January 1992, UNHCR 1979, at paras 54-55.
18 Liang. Hanquan v. M.C.I. (F.C., no. IMM-3342-07), Tremblay-Lamer, April 8, 2008, 2008 FC 450 [Liang], at para. 22.
19 Exhibit 7, NDP for Czech Republic (March 29, 2019), item 2.5.
20 Ibid.
21 Liang, supra, footnote 18.
22 Exhibit 7, NDP for Czech Republic (March 29, 2019), item 2.1.

Categories
All Countries Hungary

2020 RLLR 54

Citation: 2020 RLLR 54
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 21, 2020
Panel: Hazelyn Ross
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Marko Vitorovich
Country: Hungary
RPD Number: TB0-11379
Associated RPD Number(s): TB0-11378, TB0-11380, TB0-11381
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000159-000170


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is a redetermination of the claim for Convention refugee protection made by [XXX], principal claimant, [XXX] (wife), [XXX], (minor claimant), and [XXX]. The claimants are citizens of Hungary who seek protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)1 on the basis of their Roma ethnicity.

[2]       Their claims for protection were initially heard jointly with those of the [XXX] family and a decision rendered in 2011. On an application for judicial review, Hughes, J. returned the matter to the Board for redetermination, on the ground that the Refugee Protection Division (the RPD) had made erroneous credibility findings and had failed to deal adequately with the issue of state protection. Hughes, J. also ordered that the claims of the two families be severed.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimants rely on the allegations in the narrative portion of the principal claimant’s Basis of Claim, (BOC)2. The following is a summary of those allegations.

•           That they are Roma, and readily recognised as such by their physical appearance and mode of dress;

•           They have suffered severe discrimination and harassment in their native Hungary, which discrimination and harassment started in school and has been lifelong;

•           They have been abused by the Hungarian police with the harassment growing worse during the 1990’s;

•           Hungarian Guard and skinheads attack them and other Roma frequently;

•           During an attack on [XXX] 1995, the wife was beaten so severely that she [XXX];

•           In the fall of 1996 a group of 4-5 skinheads attacked the principal claimant at his home. The attackers dragged him outside, where they beat him. They set fire to his home. They also beat his neighbours. The claimants went to the police but were told that the police would not help;

•           While the atmosphere was calmer during the 2000’s, between [XXX] 2005 and [XXX] 2009, the claimants were victims of a number of anti-Roma incidents. Their family members and friends were also victims of anti-Roma discrimination and violence. The principal claimant was kept naked in a cell for three days.

•           In [XXX] 2006, police arrested and detained the principal claimant on suspicion of theft as he was going to visit his wife after she had [XXX]. The police accused him of stealing the items he was taking to her. He was detained for three days. When he was released, he was asked whether he wished to file a complaint against the arresting officers. He provided the badge numbers of the officers who arrested and interrogated him, but was told that those badge numbers did not exist.

•           In [XXX] 2009, the wife and the principal claimant were returning home from a movie when the police stopped them for an identification check. The wife was let go, but the principal claimant was again detained for three days. His clothes were taken from him and he was kept naked for the entire three days. He was beaten during the first night and interrogated over the next two days of his detention, all with the intention of making him confess to crimes. When he was released, he was asked whether he wanted to make a complaint about his detention, however, when he said he wanted to, the officer asked him to consider it carefully as they [the police] would look into his family (a veiled threat).

•           The claimants made the decision to leave Hungary in [XXX] 2009, but before they could do so, they were victims of several serious incidents. On [XXX], 2010 Hungarian Guards attacked the wife and her mother while they were in town. The wife suffered injury to her head, arms, and legs. When they tried to make a complaint, the officer on duty accused the principal claimant of beating the wife and ordered the claimants to leave the police station.

•           In [XXX] 2009, Hungarian Guards violently invaded the claimants’ home, forcing them to flee. The Guards tried to set fire to the home, but the claimants re-entered the home and were able to douse the fire before it could spread.

•           All attempts to seek police protection proved futile, as each and every time they turned to the police, the police refused to assist them.

DETERMINATION

[4]       For the following reasons, the panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees.

ANALYSIS

The Claimant’s Evidence

[5]       At the hearing, both adult claimants gave extensive oral testimony about the major incidents that prompted them to leave Hungary. They testified that they are readily identified as Roma persons by their physical appearance. As a result, the wife has been subjected to numerous random attacks while out on the street, which attacks she blamed on the reluctance of the white Hungarian population to accept the Roma. The principal claimant testified that he is readily identified as a Roma person by the shape of his face, his large nose and the colour of his skin. As a result, he has had trouble finding work and was attacked at least twice a month. He spoke of mistrust when he was out in the public sphere that culminated in him being falsely arrested and accused of theft in [XXX] 2006.

[6]       When she was asked what prompted the family to leave Hungary, the wife responded that the turning point was the home invasion of [XXX] 2009.

The Major Incidents

[7]       In assessing the wife’s oral testimony about the major incidents in the claim, the panel finds that overall her testimony was not credible and trustworthy because much of that testimony was exaggerated or unsubstantiated. This was particularly true of her testimony respecting her experience with the medical field.

The Wife’s Experiences with the medical system

[8]       The wife submitted medical reports that show that she had [XXX]. She alleged that the only reason she had the [XXX] was because the doctor who performed the previous [XXX] was negligent. She attributed his alleged negligence to her Roma ethnicity. She testified that he was silent when she confronted him with his negligence. The wife interpreted the doctor’s silence as proof that she was correct in her assumptions.

[9]       The panel gives little weight to this part of the wife’s testimony because it is internally inconsistent and contradicted by the medical reports she submitted. The medical report shows that the wife suffered from [XXX] and underwent [XXX] to address her condition. The first was in [XXX] 2000; and the second in 2006. The 2006 [XXX] was required because her condition had returned.3 When the panel gave the wife the opportunity to respond to the content of the medical reports, she asserted that she had only [XXX]. This response is inconsistent with her earlier testimony that she had [XXX] for the same condition, one of which was unnecessary and was entirely due to the doctor’s negligence and anti-Roma sentiment, a position she maintained throughout the hearing.

[10]     The panel is not an expert in any discipline of medicine, therefore, it is unable to attribute, as the wife did, that the [XXX] in 2006 was a) unnecessary, and b) occasioned only by the doctor’s racism. Further, given the inconsistency between the medical report and the wife’ s assertions that there were [XXX]; and her later denial that there had been a [XXX], the panel finds that her allegations that the doctor was negligent in his treatment of her condition because he harbored racist sentiment towards the Roma are neither credible nor trustworthy.

[11]     The wife also alleged medical misconduct when she gave [XXX]. She claimed that the staff forced her to [XXX], when, due to her prior [XXX], she was supposed to [XXX] section. She testified that she brought this to the staff’s attention, who ignored her. Instead the medical staff performed tests designed to [XXX] and forced her to [XXX] “then and there’. In her view, the medical personnel did not act in a professional way and wanted her to suffer because she was Roma.

[12]     For the following reasons, the panel rejects these allegations. The medical report regarding this event lists the following diagnosis: [XXX]

[13]     The medical report regarding this event sets out the circumstances of the wife’s [XXX] as:

“she got registered into our department following the [XXX] and the [XXX] got organised at [XXX] with a [XXX]. In regards to the previous [XXX] removal, to the [XXX] that is involved into the [XXX] and the prolonged period of time the [XXX] was completed with [XXX]; as a result of which a [XXX] without any complications … “4

[14]     The panel interpreted this portion of the medical report to be saying that the wife went into [XXX]. That she suffered from [XXX] and that due to additional medical complications relating to her previous [XXX] and the length of [XXX], a decision was made to [XXX]. When the panel gave the wife the opportunity to respond to its interpretation of the medical report, she reiterated her claim that, due to her Roma ethnicity, the medical personnel forced her to [XXX] over her protestations. She maintained that as she was present at the time she was in a good position to assess how the staff acted towards her. In response to her counsel, she testified that during the [XXX] she was diagnosed with [XXX] and that her doctor had told her that it would be better for her to have a [XXX] so that they do not burst.

[15]     While not disputing the wife’s subjective appreciation of the attitude of the medical staff, the panel is unable to find, as she suggested, that anti-Roma racism was the reason for the medical actions that were taken. It is clear that the wife felt that because of her earlier [XXX] she could not or should not have to [XXX]. No objective medical evidence was provided on this point, and, without additional information, the panel is unable to find, as the wife asserts, that the medical decisions taken by the staff were motivated solely by anti-Roma racism. The panel gives little weight to the wife’s testimony regarding the medical treatment she received when [XXX].

The October 2009 Home Invasion

[16]     The claimants allege that in [XXX] 2009 Hungarian Guards entered their home in an unprovoked attack. The wife testified that they entered through the window. As the Guards came in, the family fled through the back door. She testified that as they fled, she looked back. She noticed that the Guards were not following them and were, in fact, leaving. The family returned to the house and on entering noticed that the Guards had started a fire using some of the family’s clothing. They put the fire out. The principal claimant corroborated the wife’s account but added that the fire did not spread because the Guards had used their damp clothes to start the fire.

[17]     While the description of the attack aligns with the claimants’ general allegations as well as with the claims of Roma claimants, generally, for the following reasons the panel finds that the claimants’ account of the incident is not credible and trustworthy.

[18]     According to the claimants the incident was relatively brief. The Guards came in through the window, the claimants fled through the back door, the Guards started a fire; they left and the claimants returned home. The panel is not prepared to accept that the Guards would use damp clothes to start a fire; even, if they did, the panel is not prepared to accept that their attempt would yield a fire that the claimants would be forced to put out. The panel is of the view that this is not what could reasonably be expected in those circumstances and, therefore, the credibility of the claimants’ testimony regarding the [XXX] 2009 home invasion is seriously undermined. The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the alleged home invasion did not occur.

The Other Incidents

[19]     The claimants alleged that following an attack on [XXX] 1995 the wife suffered a [XXX] as a result of the injuries she received. No independent evidence was put forward that could link the alleged [XXX] to an attack by Hungarian guards. Further, the wife’s testimony about the [XXX] mises concerns that the panel has not been able to resolve in her favour. She testified that while she went to the hospital because she felt pain, the only procedure that was carried out was a [XXX] that she testified was done at her urging. She received no other medical treatment, even though the doctor told her that the [XXX].

[20]     The panel finds that, notwithstanding the allegation that Roma women are routinely discriminated against in hospital, the events described by the wife are not in keeping with what might reasonably be expected where a [XXX] woman attends hospital complaining of with abdominal pain. Given that a [XXX] was in fact performed, the panel is not persuaded that the wife received discriminatory treatment amounting to persecution when she [XXX].

The [XXX] 2010 Incident

[21]     The claimants alleged that shortly before the wife came to Canada, Hungarian Guards attacked her and her mother. This incident allegedly took place on [XXX] 2010. The wife claimed to have suffered injury to her arms and legs. She testified that she received no assistance from either the police or the doctors. Photographs of her bruises were tendered as part of Exhibit 115. The wife testified that the Immigration Officer who interviewed them advised her to take the photographs. The photographs were the only supporting documentation respecting the alleged incident. The panel is aware of the presumption of truthfulness that attaches to the wife’s sworn testimony, however, in light of its prior credibility findings, and absent any supporting documents that originated in Hungary, the panel is unable to draw any inferences or make any findings regarding the injuries and the alleged incident because the photographs cannot tell the circumstances under which the injuries were sustained.

[22]     While the panel does not dispute that the wife, as a Roma person, has experienced discriminatory treatment in Hungary, given the credibility concerns that the panel has not been able to resolve in her favour, the panel finds that the wife has not met her onus to establish, on a balance of probabilities, that she faces a serious possibility of persecution if returned to Hungary. The panel finds that the wife is not a Convention refugee. For the same reason, the panel finds that she has not established that she is a person in need of protection.

The Principal Claimant

[23]     The principal claimant testified that he was readily identified as a Roma person by his appearance, specifically his large nose. The panel places little reliance on this claim, nonetheless, it finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the principal claimant’s association with his wife and her family and residence in a Roma area would likely cause him to be perceived as being Roma, which in turn leaves him open to the type of discriminatory treatment accorded to Roma persons in Hungary. Having made this finding, the panel examined the principal claimant’s allegations of persecution. His allegations centred around two incidents. In both incidents the police arrested and detained him for seventy-two hours before releasing him without charge. The documentary evidence indicates that this is common practice in Hungary.

[24]     The first incident occurred in 2006, shortly after the wife [XXX]. The principal claimant testified that he was on his way to the hospital to visit her. He was taking her some supplies she needed, things like shampoo and sanitary napkins. On his way to the hospital the police stopped him. The officers accused him of stealing the items, a charge he denied. The police took him to the police station, where he was detained for seventy-two hours before being released without charges. During this period the police questioned and beat the principal claimant. For the three days he was detained, his family did not know where he was.

[25]     The second incident occurred in [XXX] 2009. The principal claimant testified that when the police arrested him, they told him that they were looking for him because he was charged with theft. At the police station he was stripped of his clothes, and in his words “given dirty rags”. But for these rags he was naked. He remained naked throughout the three days of his detention. The principal claimant testified that he was humiliated during the three days he was detained stating that “it was unnatural the way they humiliated me”. Asked to explain what he meant he replied that he did not want to do in front of the female claimants. Later on he would testify that since coming to Canada and finding work here, he feels like a man again.

[26]     The principal claimant was rather emotional while he was giving this testimony, however, he would not elaborate on his experience during detention. He testified that in 2013 he was assessed by a [XXX], who recommended that he join a support group and that he could benefit from [XXX].6 In fact, the principal claimant was found to have a score of [XXX].7 The principal claimant testified that he did not follow up on these treatment recommendations largely because of financial difficulty. Nonetheless, he testified that if returned to Hungary he would likely break down again.

[27]     While the panel is cautious of medical [XXX] reports that state that the only way that claimants can recover from their [XXX] and other health issues is for them to remain in Canada, it found that the principal claimant presented his testimony, which centred mainly on these two incidents and an incident in a public park, in a straightforward manner and without any seeming attempt at subterfuge. For this reason, the panel accepts the finding of the [XXX] that the principal claimant has suffered or [XXX], which likely stems from his experiences while detained.

[28]     Further, based on the principal claimant’s demeanour while testifying about the second detention, the panel accepts that he was mistreated as he alleged. The documentary evidence indicates that Roma persons are often mistreated while they are in custody.8 Given these statements in the documentary evidence, the panel’s findings respecting his perceived Roma identity as well as the principal claimant’s testimony respecting the mistreatment he received at the hands of the police, the panel finds that, if returned to Hungary, there is a serious possibility that the police would continue to arrest and harass the principal claimant. Further, the panel finds that such continued harassment is treatment that would amount to persecution.

State Protection

[29]     As the police are the agents of persecution, the panel finds that it is not likely that state protection would be available to the principal claimant. For these reasons, the panel finds that he is a Convention refugee.

The Minor Claimant

[30]     On the behalf of the minor claimant it was advanced by both the adult claimants and their counsel that he would be persecuted if he were to return to Hungary. They posited that the minor claimant would be denied adequate schooling and that he would suffer the same discriminatory treatment that all Roma face in Hungary. Segregated schooling for Roma children is well documented.9 However, this is not a situation that the now [XXX] years old minor claimant has ever faced, and there was little persuasive evidence before the panel that the minor claimant who has had the benefit of being educated in the Ontario school system will likely face segregated schooling if returned to Hungary.

[31]     It was also argued that the minor claimant was not sufficiently proficient in the Hungarian language to allow him to attend a Hungarian school. The panel is not persuaded by this argument because there was no independent evidence of the minor claimant’s proficiency in the Hungarian language put before it that could allow the panel to make such a conclusion. What is evident is that he is reliant on his parents for support. The panel has already found that the principal claimant is a Convention refugee and by virtue of family membership and his dependency on the principal claimant, the panel finds that the minor claimant is also a Convention refugee.

[XXX]

[32]     [XXX] is the wife’s mother. She claims to have experienced lifelong discrimination and harassment in Hungary. She relies on the principal claimant’s narrative, which states that she was with the wife on [XXX] 2010 when Guardists attacked them. Unlike the wife, no photographs were tendered to support this claim. The panel has already found that there was insufficient credible evidence before it to allow it to find that Guardists attacked the wife on [XXX] 2010 and for the same reasons it is unable to find that [XXX] was also attacked on that date.

[33]     In so far as [XXX] relies on the claims of the principal claimant, the panel’s adverse credibility findings respecting these claims also apply to her. The panel is aware that, as a Roma person in Hungary and as indicated in the documentary evidence, [XXX] likely faced many acts of discrimination during her lifetime. Nonetheless, she has not put forward sufficient credible and trustworthy evidence to allow the panel to conclude that the acts of discrimination had risen to the level of persecution. For this reason the panel finds that she has not made out her claim to be a Convention refugee.

Family Membership

[34]     Notwithstanding, its findings respecting the wife, and [XXX] the panel considered whether there is a serious possibility that they would face persecution as family members of the principal claimant. It has concluded that, on a balance of probabilities, they are likely to do so because of the targeting of the principal claimant by the police in their neighbourhood. Accordingly, the panel finds that the wife, the minor claimant, and [XXX] are Convention refugees.

CONCLUSION

[35]     [XXX] claimed protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the IRPA on the basis of their Roma ethnicity. Having considered their claims, the Refugee Protection Division finds that they are Convention refugees.

[36]     Pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA, their claims are accepted.

(signed)           H. Ross

July 21, 2020

1 The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), S.C. 2001, c.27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Exhibit 2, Basis of Claim forms (BOC).
3 Exhibit 15, p. 55.
4 Exhibit 15, p. 61.
5 Exhibit 11.
6 Exhibit 12.
7 Ibid.
8 Exhibit 6, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Hungary, version 31 March 2020, Item 2.1.
9 Ibid.

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2020 RLLR 47

Citation: 2020 RLLR 47
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 10, 2020
Panel: M. Dookun
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amro Hayek
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: TB9-25948
Associated RPD Numbers: TB9-25981, TB9-26023
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000115-000118


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: Based on the information that I have in front of me folks, you Sir, are a [XXX] male. You’re a Stateless Palestinian with a Lebanese travel document. Your wife is a [XXX] female. She’s also a Stateless Palestinian with this-, but she has an Egyptian travel document and the minor claimant is a [XXX]-male and he is also a Stateless Palestinian and he also, like you Sir, has a Lebanese travel document. You are all seeking refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. You Ma’am, served as the designated representative for the minor claimant. I’ll go slower Mr. Interpreter, it looks like you’re having trouble hearing me. I can’t hear you but it looks like you’re having trouble so I’ll go slower.

[2]       Now, the specific details of your claims are set out in your Basis of Claim form, Sir. If I were to simplify what is already in your Basis of Claim form, I would say Sir, that you and the minor claimant fear persecution in Lebanon based on your nationality as Palestinians. You Sir, also fear harm at the hands of Hizballah and I’m going to spell that for the record because this is going to be transcribed. H-I-Z-B-A-L­ L-A-H, because they threatened you in Lebanon in 2011. You feared that they would harm you and harm the minor child out of revenge in-, in order to hurt you. Your wife fears that she-, number one, she would not be allowed to enter Egypt and if she did, then she would face difficulties in Egypt due to her ethnicity as Palestinian as well as other reasons. So, the Panel determines folks, that you are all Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       Now, with regard to your identities, you established all of your identities by way of these certified true copies of your travel documents that I have in Exhibit 1 and you also provided birth certificates for me in Exhibit 5, so I have no concerns with regard to your personal identities.

[4]       Now, with regard to credibility, Ma’am, you-, you didn’t always testify in a straightforward manner. The Panel finds that you did exaggerate your testimony a little bit, especially when, regarding the difficulties in renewing your Egyptian travel document, you described an example of your father getting a number for the que at-, at 3am and that by the time you arrived at 9 am, you weren’t seen because that number had passed. That’s not-, the Panel does not see that as mistreatment per say. If a system is in place where one takes a number and waits for that number to be called and one is not there when the number is called, it’ s not unreasonable that an organization would not take you after that point. It happens even here in Canada at the passport office so, I didn’t-, I-, I felt that you did exaggerate a little bit.

[5]       So, I switched with you and I had your husband testify instead and I find Sir, that you did testify in a very straightforward manner. For example, when you were asked if you had any problems in Lebanon before 2011, you very directly, well, initially, you very directly answered no, you did not have any problems. You did not try to embellish or exaggerate your testimony at that point, which the Panel very much appreciated. Now, e-, even though it seemed later that you changed your testimony to indicate that you did experience problems in Lebanon, the Panel does not draw a negative inference and I’ll tell you why. The first time I asked you, it was suggested that you were being asked whether you had problems with Hizballah before 2011 and you said directly, no. The que-, the second time I asked you, the question was very specific and I said, did you have problems in Lebanon because of your Palestinian nationality. Y-, that’s when you said yes, you did have problems but then you explained that the problems that you experienced as a Palestinian in Lebanon, those problems were so common that you-, you got used to it. You tolerated it, so you didn’t really consider it to be a problem. It was life for you as a Palestinian in Lebanon so I don’t draw a negative inference with regard to the-, the slight change in what might appear to be the slight change in testimony.

[6]       When I asked you whether you-, what the fear was that you had for the minor claimant, you said that you only fear Hizballah and you didn’t mention a fear of persecution by society because of the-, the child’s Palestinian identity. Again, the Panel appreciates that you did not embellish or exaggerate your fear for the minor claimant. So, taking both testimonies into account, the Panel finds that there were no serious contradictions or inconsistencies contained within your testimonies and so the Panel has no serious reason to doubt that your affirmed testimony this afternoon, even though at times exaggerated, for the most part was truthful.

[7]       Now, with regard to the-, the country conditions, I’ll start with Lebanon because that’s the most straightforward for the Panel. The documentary evidence that I have in Exhibit 3 and counsel’s package in Exhibit 5, regarding the situation for Stateless Palestinians in Lebanon. It’ s very clear, it’ s very-, the-, the documentary evidence is very voluminous that Stateless Palestinians face widespread violence, harassment and discrimination that amounts to persecution in Lebanon. Aside from the problems that you’re facing with the Hizballah supporters, even if I don’t take that-, those problems into account, just being a Palestinian in Lebanon is enough Sir, that you and the child would face serious problems. When we combine that with the problems that-, and the threats that you have received from Hizballah supporters, it only increases your risk in Lebanon.

[8]       Now, with regard to Egypt, with counsel-, counsel’s-, with counsel’s guidance, we focused on Exhibit 3, Item 3.4 and that talks about the fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of cases in which Palestinian­ Palestinians with Egyptian travel documents are denied re-entry for various reasons. Palestinians may face detention at the border in Egypt, imprisonment upon arrival or deportation. So that affirms or confirms the female claimant’s fear that she would not even be able to enter Egypt. Now, if she were able to enter Egypt, this same document goes onto say that Palestinians in Egypt are denied rights to secure residency, employment, property and they are considered foreigners in Egypt no matter how long they have lived there. Egyptian laws do not allow foreigners which Palestinians are considered, to exceed 10% of employees in the labour force, so this limits the employment opportunities for Palestinians and then to add to this, as the female claimant indicated, she’s never been to Egypt. She has no friends, she has no family, she has no support in that country and tho-, therefore she would-, she would be and feel even more out of place than Palestinians who have been residing in Egypt.

[9]       So, to conclude, the Panel finds on a balance of probabilities, based on the documentary evidence that the principal claimant and the minor claimant have a well-founded fear of persecution in Lebanon based on their ethnicities. And the female claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Egypt, based on her ethnicity. I should just mention for the record, although it’ s-, it’ s-, it’s implied or it’s well known, I should mention that even though they were born, they were all born in Saudi Arabia, they clearly have no rights to remain or return to Saudi Arabia. So, the Panel finds that the claimants are all Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Refugee Protection Division accepts these claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Sri Lanka

2020 RLLR 43

Citation: 2020 RLLR 43
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 30, 2020
Panel: C. Peterdy
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ian Wong
Country: Sri Lanka
RPD Number: TB9-09362
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000093-000099


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection of [XXX]. The file number is TB0-09362. I have considered your oral testimony and the other evidence in this case and I’m ready to render my decision orally.

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

[3]       I find that you are a convention refugee on the grounds of your ethnicity, religion, and an imputed political opinion for the following reasons:

[4]       Your allegations are made out in your Basis of Claim Form which is found at Exhibit 2. In summary, you allege that you are a citizen of Sri Lanka and that you fear harm at the hands of the Sri Lankan government, army, police, and security forces, as well as ballistic extremist as a Tamil-speaking Muslim.

[5]       You allege that you and your family historically faced discrimination and harassment as Muslims. You allege that after the Candy Riots of [XXX] 2018, you and your employee were attacked by Sinhalese men and called racial slurs. Sinhalese people also boycotted your business.

[6]       You further allege that land you had purchased in 2012 was supposedly taken by the military in 2013. You reached out to government officials and even held a demonstration in 2018 to have the land returned.

[7]       A lawsuit was filed against the army in 2017 by the man from whom you purchased the land. As a result of your efforts, you faced harassment and threats. In [XXX] 2019, you were detained by the Terrorist Investigation Department, or TID, for one day where you were questioned about your work, your trips abroad and who funded these trips. The TID alleged they had information about your anti-government and anti-Buddhist activities and accused you of turning innocent people against the government. You were beaten by the TID and released with a strict warning not to engage in anti-government activities.

[8]       The man who sold you the land and who had purchased — sorry — who had sold you the land and who had launched the court case against the Military received threatening phone calls and went missing in [XXX] 2019. You also received threatening phone calls in [XXX] 2019. It was then that you determined it was no longer safe for you to remain in Sri Lanka and you fled to Canada.

[9]       Since fleeing, the army has returned to your home and gone to your Mosque and your wife’s workplace to inquire about your whereabouts. Your wife was informed that on return to Sri Lanka you are to present yourself to the Ampara Police Station concerning an investigation into your anti-government activities and a discovery of explosives on your land.

[10]     Your identity as National of Sri Lanka has been established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and the identification documents found in Exhibit 1 and 6, including your passport and National ID card.

[11]     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. Your testimony was straightforward and consistent with your Basis of Claim Form. You did not embellish your testimony and there were no significant omissions or inconsistencies. Your testimony was spontaneous and included the detail one would expect from someone telling their own story.

[12]     You also provided several documents to corroborate your claim and the risks alleged. These include documents corroborating your work and involvement in the business community. At Exhibit 6, you have your business registration, Ampara District Chamber of Commerce and Industry ID, as well as certificates of membership from 2016 and 2018, Certificate of Membership from the International Association of Lions Club. You’ve provided documents confirming the land you purchased in Exhibit 6 and 8. There’s the land permit showing the grant of four acres to [XXX] (ph) as well as his affidavit confirming transfer of this land to you after receipt of [XXX], and a copy of the selling agreement and a request to have the land permit transferred to your name.

[13]     You provided the court order from [XXX] 2017 corroborating your allegation that a case was filed by [XXX] and dismissed by the court in (indiscernible) because the land falls under the Ampara Court’s jurisdiction.

[14]     There’s a letter from the lawyer who represented you and confirms that you and [XXX] approached him for help. He states that the re-opening of the case in Ampara had to be suspended because [XXX] went missing and you were being harassed and ultimately fled to Canada.

[15]     There’s a letter from your Mosque, your wife, your father, a friend, and an employee who are aware of what has happened to you in Sri Lanka. [XXX] (ph) (indiscernible) states that the TID has visited the Mosque asking about you. Your wife states that since you fled, the TID has gone to your home in [XXX] 2019 and twice in [XXX] 2019 after the Easter bombings to ask about you and to search the home. [XXX] (ph) confirms that he was with you in [XXX] 2018 when you were attacked by Sinhalese men and called a racial slur.

[16]     Based on your testimony as well as the documents provided to corroborate your claim, I find on a balance of probabilities that you have established that you were harassed and targeted because you were a Muslim. I further find that you have established on a balance of probabilities that you purchased land that was forcibly taken by the military and that after trying various avenues of recourse to have the land returned to you, you were arrested, detained, and questioned by the TID.

[17]     I accept that the TID believes that you are opposed to the Government and have engaged in in anti-Sinhalese and anti-Buddhist activities and as a result, you face a serious possibility of persecution in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, I find that you have established subjective fear of harm.

[18]     The objective evidence in both the National Documentation Package found in Exhibit 3 and counsel’s Country Conditions Package found at Exhibit 7, further corroborates what you allege and the risk you face as a Muslim in Sri Lanka.

[19]     With respect to the land issue, Item 10.4 of the National Documentation Package is particularly instructive. It’s a Human Rights Watch Report on Land Occupation from October 2018. That corroborates the issue you had with your land being taken by the military as well as the challenges in having the land returned.

[20]     Security forces have occupied new land even after the end of the war to expand their role and presence in civilian activities including infrastructure development, tourism and administration. It contains examples of military going into villages, forcibly taking land and erecting military camps in the East and in Ampara, which is the district where you lived.

[21]     The report raises concerns that “the Sinhalese-dominated state is seeking to diminish the rights of minorities through continued militarization and territorial aggrandizement.”

[22]     There are many challenges getting the land back. The government’s approach seems at best ad hoc, and decisions are too often left to the discretion of the security forces, without a serious effort to systematically map and review military use of land as well as the status of release and reparations initiatives.

[23]     The report also talks about specific incidents where people have filed complaints in the court for their land and have been harassed forcing them to withdraw these complaints. Most cases that have been filed are either still ongoing or did not result in the release of the lands.

[24]     There are also numerous documents in both the National Documentation Package and counsel’s Country Conditions Package that discuss the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment that has occurred in Sri Lanka over the past six or seven years. There’s been violent attacks, threats, and harassments that came to a head in 2018 after the Candy Riots and again, in 2019 after the Easter bombings.

[25]     The articles in Exhibit 7 as well as Items 1.9, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 12.1, 12.5, 12.6, 12.8, and 12.9 in Exhibit 3 all discuss the myriad of attacks against Muslims in retaliation for the Easter bombings.

[26]     Exhibit 7, there’s an article that talks about “angry mobs” going house to house to attack and threaten Muslims. On article — another article in Exhibit 7 states that the Human Rights Watch is urging the government to stop mob violence, threats, and discrimination against Muslims. Authorities are arbitrarily arresting and detaining hundreds under counterterrorism and emergency laws, and there had been a lot of arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows long-term detention without charge or trial.

[27]     Human Rights Watch spoke to lawyers who had a list of 105 detainees that summarized the justification for arrest by authorities and included such reasons such as keeping money at home, talking in a playground, a post that’s shared on social media five years back, having English lecturer documents, Arabic songs on their laptop, or travelling to Jaffna for a job. Or simply no reason. Abuses by authorities had long been prevalent and unaddressed by the government.

[28]     And Government leaders themselves appeared to associate themselves with Buddhist Nationalist elements. On May 23rd, 2019, then President Sirisena pardoned the leader of (indiscernible) of the Buddhist-extremist group known for targeting Muslims.

[29]     In Item 12.8 which was also included in Exhibit 7, states that months after the Easter bombings, the situation is still dangerous, even though attacks were committed by a fringe group of Muslims. Muslims in general are facing significant backlash.

[30]     The government has sat idly by or even egged on violence and political divisions in Government have constructed efforts to reform the dysfunctional police and intelligence services.

[31]     Since the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President in 2019, and Mahinder (ph) Rajapaksa as Prime Minister in 2020, the security situation and conditions in Sri Lanka have only deteriorated. Concerns of any gains made under the previous government towards improving the human rights situation, would be reversed are reflected both counsel’s Country Conditions Package and the National Documentation Package.

[32]     Item 2.13 noted that the concern that the government will roll back any progress made under the previous government towards improving the human rights situation and that this government will renege on promises made under the former government. Item 4.13 of the National Document Package states that since Rajapaksa seeking power there is a trend towards authoritarianism and militarization. There has been a crack down on human rights with no regard for minorities. Rajapaksa is dismissive of what he calls divisive political demands and frames them as a result of manipulation by Tamil politicians and western aligned interests.

[33]     Item 13.1 states that human rights have deteriorated significantly since Rajapaksa was elected president. Both Gotabaya and Mahinder Rajapaksa have espoused anti-Muslim news publicly.  An article in Exhibit 7 sates that Gotabaya campaigned on the province to protect Sri Lanka from the Muslim threat, and after the election, he appointed an all male cabinet with no Tamil or Muslim representatives.

[34]     Another article from 2020 states that Gotabaya and Mahinder Rajapaksa campaigned on a nationalist platform projecting your family as protectors of the Sinhalese Buddhist population. There has always been anti-Tamilism (ph) in the country, but recently there has been arise in hatred against the Muslim minority too. Mahinder Rajapaksa’s message has been that Sri Lanka belongs toto the Sinhalese and that Tamils are Muslims are their permanent threats.

[35]     In 2020, a year after the Easter bombings, the situation from has not improved, and in fact, has worsened due to the global pandemic of COVID 19. Item 12.5, which was also included in exhibit 7, states that concerns were raised in April 2020 about recent arrests of well-known Muslims, biased government actions and rising ant-Muslim hate speech. COVID has worsened the situation, where there has been calls to boycott Muslim business and accusations that Muslims are deliberately spreading COVID 19. Senior government figures have made public remarks associating the Muslim community with COVID 19 infections.

[36]     Another article states that the government’s frequent incidents of demonization, vilification and state guarding of Sri Lanka’s Muslim population are a cause of great concern. The government has mandated cremation for those who have died due to COVID 19 and the body of the first Muslim death due to COVID 19 was forceable cremated against the wishes of his family and against urging of the Muslim community and religious leaders, a policy that was seen as discriminatory. This was also reflected in Item 12.9, which again noted the discriminatory law mandating cremation for those who die from COVID and for accusing the Muslim community being at high risk for spreading the disease. In the past year [XXX] have been arbitrarily arrested and accused critiquing Buddhism and the government.

[37]     Furthermore, the objective documents confirm the risk he would face on return to Sri Lanka as a Muslim who is under investigation by the TID and has been accused of engaging in anti-government and anti­ Buddhist activities. Item 1.9 of the National Documentation Package states that there is a watch list which includes names of those individuals of the Sri Lankan Security Services considered to be of interest, including for suspected separatists or criminal activities.

[38]     Item 4.11 states that returning failed asylum seekers would likely be questioned at the airport by immigration officials and may be passed to the criminal investigation department. But they do security checks at the airport where they look into a police database from where the returnee is from, and it is not unusual to have further checks at home and to be monitored.

[39]     Item 14.6 states that returnees are checked against the watch list maintained by police as well as one maintained by State Intelligent Services. Returnees are questioned on arrivai by the Department of Immigration and Emigration, State Intelligence Services and Criminal Investigation Department for a few hours to several days. They may also be visited by police at their residence at a later time after the interrogation. Returnees from western countries in particular are placed under surveillance to determine whether they have ties to the LTTE.

[40]     Therefore, based on this documentary evidence, I find that the claimant has an objectively well-founded fear of persecution.

[41]     I find that state protection would not be available to you were you to seek it in Sri Lanka. Where agents of the state themselves are sources of persecution, the presumption of state protection may be rebutted without exhausting ail avenues of recourse in the country. In this case, the agents of persecution are the state; the police, army and intelligence community. Your evidence is that since fleeing, the TID has informed your wife that you are under investigation for engaging in anti-government activities. For that reason, it would not be reasonable to expect you to approach the state for protection.

[42]     The National Documentation Package also contains information about the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka. Item 1.9 states that the commission can only make recommendations to the Attorney General, but there is evidence that the state is not investigating a major of complaints filed. This report further states that Sri Lanka Jacks independent and efficient mechanisms to address complains to torture.

[43]     Item 2.2 also states that limited steps are taken to hold perpetrators of serious human right violations accountable. In Item 2.3, it is noted that police and security forces are known to engage in abusive practices, including extra judicial executions, forced disappearances, custodial rape, and torture.

[44]     So in light of the objective country documentation, as well as your persona) experience, I find that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection. And based on this information again, I find that there would not be adequate state protection available to you in Sri Lanka.

[45]     I have also considered whether a viable internal fight alternative exists for you, however, given that the agent of persecution is the state and you have been targeted both the army and TID, I find that you face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Sri Lanka. Item 1.9 states that Sri Lankan forces maintain effective control throughout the country and individuals are unlikely to relocate internally with anonymity. You are known to security officials who believe you have engaged in anti-government activities. Security officials have repeatedly gone to your home looking for you and have instructed your wife to have you present yourself to the Ampara police station (indiscernible). Therefore, I find there is no viable IFA, or internal flight alternative, for you in Sri Lanka.

[46]     Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that you have established on a balance of probabilities that there is a serious possibility of persecution if you were to return to Sri Lanka. Therefore, I find that you are a convention refugee and your claim is therefore accepted.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Romania

2020 RLLR 41

Citation: 2020 RLLR 41
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: July 7, 2020
Panel: G. Griffith
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Peter G Ivanyi
Country: Romania
RPD Number: TB9-02978
Associated RPD Number: TB9-03059, TB9-03070
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000076-000084


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       [XXX], the principal claimant, his common-law spouse, [XXX], the female claimant, and their son, [XXX], the minor, claim refugee protection in Canada, pursuant to s. 96 and s.97 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)i.

[2]       The minor son was born in the USA and is a citizen of the USA.

[3]       [XXX] was appointed Designated Representative for the minor son.

INTRODUCTION

[4]       The claimants claim to be ethnic “Roma”, and the adult claimants, who were born in Romania, testify that, in Romania, they have been victims of extreme discrimination, because of their ethnicity. They allege that, in a number of cases of discrimination and confrontation by Romanians, the police in Romania have not assisted, or have been complicit.

[5]       The adult claimants left Romania in [XXX] and, after a stay in the USA, where an asylum claim was made, they travelled to Canada on [XXX] 2018.

[6]       The principal claimant lived for brief periods in Sweden and Belgium in the years 2003 and 2006, respectively.

[7]       The Minister’s Representative provided submissions (written only) on the issue of the credibility of the overall testimony, as well as with specific concerns and request for clarification on the nature of criminal charges issued to the principal claimant in the USA, and clarification on the claimants’ method of entering Canada.

[8]       No evidence was adduced in the claim of the US-born minor claimant.

[9]       The principal claimant is also the father of three children who, at the time of the hearing, were listed as being resident in Romania.

ALLEGATIONS:

[10]     A summary of the key elements of the testimony is, as follows.

[11]     The principal claimant gave oral testimony in which he states the following, as in the written narrative of the claimants’ Basis of Claim (BOC)ii Form.

[12]     He states that in Romania, starting at an early age, as an ethnic Roma, he, personally, experienced extreme discrimination and persecution.

[13]     He testifies that he and his spouse are identified as “Roma” in Romania, as that, generally, a Roma is identified by a combination of skin color, facial hair, manner of dress, customs, language, and places of residence, and that they endure certain impositions such as that a “Roma” must register with the police if there is any attempt at residential relocation.

[14]     The principal claimant testifies that he experienced those conditions, starting as a young child, and that, at school, he experienced hard times, being called names such as “dirty gypsy” or “crow”. He testifies that the teachers at school had no sympathy for him, or for other Roma students from his community.

[15]     The principal claimant testifies that, as a result of the regular harassment at school, he sought employment at an early age, but that in searching for employment, also, he experienced difficulties and discrimination. He testifies that he was regularly refused employment, with only the explanation that he was Roma.

[16]     The principal claimant testifies further, that, as an adult, also, he experienced direct physical and verbal abuse by Romanian persons, and even by the police in Romania. He testifies that on three occasions when he sought help of the police in Romania, he was rebuffed and insulted.

[17]     The principal claimant testifies to the following specific incidents that he faced as an adult., such as happened in Romania at a market, in the year 2008. On that occasion, he states, he became involved in a physical and verbal altercation at a grocery store with employees who perceived that his cousin, his wife and himself were there to steal.

[18]     The principal claimant testifies that they were followed around, and, at the cashier, an employee pulled the hair of his cousin. He testifies that he intervened, to also protect his wife, and he was punched in the face, and they were called “crows”. As well, when they managed to exit the store, they noticed on that there were other persons on the outside who were gathering to physically abuse them.

[19]     The principal claimant testifies that, in that same year, 2008, while on his way to work in one of the villages, he was beaten by racist Romanians. Also, in that same year, he and his wife were kicked out of a restaurant because Romanians in the building felt uncomfortable. And, when he attempted to make a report to the police, it was not accepted.

[20]     The principal claimant states, further, that in the year 2010, while driving with a friend, they were pulled over by the police, and that even after offering a bribe, they were beaten by the police.

[21]     The principal claimant testifies further, as contained in his narrativeiii, to incidents that occurred in the years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, where the underlying facts are alleged to be incidents of discrimination, and physical altercations with Romanians, in which, also, he states, the police in Romania did not offer any assistance, following complaints, and that the police, themselves, assisted in the discrimination.

[22]     The principal claimant testifies that he left Romania in [XXX] 2016, and, after travelling with his brother [XXX] through [XXX] he arrived in the USA, where he asked for asylum.

[23]     The principal claimant testifies that he was arrested for being illegally in the USA, and, later, he was released, with an ankle monitor device.

[24]     The principal claimant testifies that, on [XXX] 2018, he and the spouse travelled to Canada in order to make a refugee claim, and they did so, travelling by boat.

DETERMINATION

[25]     For reasons below, I find that the claimants are Convention refugees, as, in my opinion, their expressed subjective fear has an objective basis.iv

ANALYSIS

[26]     The claimants’ national identity is established on the basis of a certified true copy of documentsv submitted by Immigration Canada, and, as well, as established in their package of personal documentsvi which include a copy of the national Identity card of Romania, in the name of the adult claimants.

Credibility/plausibility

[27]     I agree with counsel’s submissions, namely that, overall, the evidence is credible, and that it presents information of a serious violation of the claimants’ human rights in Romania.

[28]     I am satisfied that the principal claimant presented his testimony in a straightforward and consistent manner, and I find that he clarified, satisfactorily, the concerns raised by the Ministervii, in the written document.

[29]     I find that the principal claimant has adequately clarified that a charge against him in the USA was the result of an accusation of a [XXX] and that, in the end, it was [XXX] by a US Judge.

[30]     I note that, also, as clarification, the principal claimant has explainedviii that, in [XXX] by the police on a [XXX] on the street. Similarly, he explained, in [XXX], the principal claimant was [XXX] for the same offence of [XXX] on the street. He returned to Romania in 2007, following which he travelled around Europe job hunting, but eventually resorting to [XXX].

[31]     I find that the principal claimant was straightforward in his testimony in this area, and, with particular respect to the Minister’s concern on the charge against the principal claimant in the USA, the testimony is accepted, and not fatal to the claims.

[32]     As well, I find that the details of the manner in which the adult claimants entered Canada [XXX] in a process that, seemingly was contrary to CBSA requirements, is not a bar to the making of a refugee claim, and given the clarification provided.

Objective Basis

[33]     I find that the claims, as presented by the adult claimants, are supported by the guidelines in the Hand Bookix, and by the case-lawx, where it is held that a number of discriminatory and harassing acts may cumulatively amount to persecution.

[34]     I find that, in addition to the claimants’ undisputed testimony, I can rely on the documentary evidencexi, some of which forms part of Counsel’s submissions.

[35]     In his writtenxii and oral submissions, Counsel has provided a helpful review of the country condition documents and case law that relate to Romania, and as found in his documentary packagexiii.

[36]     In my own review, also, I find that a relevant guide to my conclusions is found in excerpts of the Response to Information Request, ROU105285.Exiv, as follows.

[37]     In that documentxv, the following is said, in part.

” … The World Bank report indicates that Roma in Romania are “poor, vulnerable and socially excluded” (28 Feb. 2014, 5). A report produced by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that” draws on the results of the UNDP/World Bank /European Commission regional Roma 2011 survey [3]”, reports that approximately 81 percent of Roma are at risk of poverty compared to approximately 41 percent of non-Roma (EU and UN 2012, 24.xvi

Under the heading Treatment of Roma (Treatment by Society), it is stated that, “the US Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 indicates that roma face systemic discrimination by society, which affects them in areas of education, housing, health and employment (US 25 June 2015)… Country Reports 2014 notes that stereotypes and discriminatory language regarding Roma was widespread (US 25 June 2015,33)… According to a report the Open Society Foundation (OSF)… indicates that “pervasive racism and racist violence continue to distance many Roma families and groups from the greater society (OSF 10 Sept 2013yvii.

[38]     I find to be relevant, also, a documentxviii found in Counsel’s package where the opening sentence reads, ” … In a ruling dealing with what it called “institutionalized racism” directed against Roma in Romania, the European Court of Human Rights has for the first time explicitly made use of the term “ethnic profiling” with regard to police action it found to be discriminatory”xix.

Failure to claim elsewhere- [XXX]

[39]     I have accepted as reasonable, the claimant’s testimony and counsel’s submissions on the issue that the claimant failed to seek asylum in [XXX], which he visited in the year 2003 and 2006, respectively. Counsel points out that, and as found in his documentary package, an IRB documentxx, notwithstanding that there is not likely a bar against claiming refugee protection in these countries by citizens of these countries, the provisions of the Asnar Protocolxxi virtually prevents the filing of refugee claims from citizen of European States, as there is an almost zero recognition of claims among the European States.

[40]     Counsel points out that, according to some documentary evidencexxii, procedurally, the governments of these countries behave differently in the matter of asylum claims, and that some countries reject applications from countries considered to be safe countries.

[41]     I have determined, also, that the claimants’ decision to leave the USA to seek protection in Canada is not unreasonable, The principal claimant testifies that he was informed that Canada could provide them with protection, while, at the same time, during his wait in the USA he faced the difficulty of surviving on little money [XXX] while his spouse, the female claimant, [XXX] for money and food.

[42]     For these reasons and after careful consideration of the evidence and submissions, I find that the adult claimants [XXX], the principal claimant, and his common-law spouse, [XXX], the female claimant have established valid claims and are Convention refugees.

[43]     I accept the claims of [XXX].

[44]     I reject the claim of the son, [XXX], the minor claimant, a citizen of the USA. In his claim, no evidence has been adduced in support, pursuant to s.96 or s. 97 of IRPA.

(signed)           G. Griffith

July 7, 2020

i Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c.27.
ii Exhibit 2.
iii Ibid.
iv Rajudeen v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) (1984), 55 N.R. 129 (F.C.A.).
v Exhibit 1.
vi Exhibit 6
vii Exhibit
viii Exbibit 6
ix Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, under the I 951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, Geneva, January 1988, paras 54-55.
x Madelat v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1991] No. 49 (F.C.A.)
xi Exhibit 3, Index to National Documentary Package for Romania
xii Exhibit 10
xiii Exhibit 3
xiv Exhibit 3, Index to NDP for Romania, Response to Information Request (RIR), ROUI05285.E: Romania: Situation of Roma, including treatment by society and government authorities; state protection and support services available to Roma (2011-2015), Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa, 9 October 2015.
xv Ibid.
xvi Ibid.
xvii Ibid.
xviii Exhibit 10: Case Watch: European Court Finds Ethnic Profiling by the Police Discriminatory, Zsolt Bobis, Open Society Justice Initiative, April 23, 2019
xix Ibid.
xx Exhibit 12, European Union: Application of the Protocol on Asylum for Nationals of Member States of the European Union (2013- June 2015). Refworld (UNHCR), Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 9 July 2015
xxi ibid
xxii Ibid.

Categories
All Countries Lebanon

2020 RLLR 38

Citation: 2020 RLLR 38
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 21, 2020
Panel: T. Nicholson
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Mary Jane Campigotto
Country: Lebanon
RPD Number: TB8-25424
Associated RPD Number: TB8-25462
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000058-000065


REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       The claimants [XXX] and [XXX] purport to be stateless Palestinian refugees. They have claimed refugee status pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the Act).1

DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE

[2]       The claimant [XXX] acted as the designated representative for the minor claimant, [XXX]. He confirmed his knowledge of his responsibilities in this regard prior to the hearing.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimants’ allegations are set out in their Basis of Claim forms (BOCs).2 They allege they are at risk of persecution in Lebanon due to their Palestinian ethnicity.

[4]       The male claimant testified being born in Lebanon, but moving to the United Arab Emirates as an adult, where he created a business [XXX]. The claimant testified to mistakenly arrested in [XXX] on suspicion of being a [XXX] due to confusion of his name with that of a [XXX], which resulted in his name being flagged and him being routinely harassed and threatened in Lebanon on his visits if he did not pay a bribe.

[5]       In [XXX] 2017, the claimant was questioned by UAE intelligence regarding his connections to refugee camps in Lebanon. After refusing to work with them, the claimant attempted to move to Lebanon, but testified to being frightened by an attack by militants.

[6]       The claimants arrived in Canada on valid visas on [XXX] 2018.

DETERMINATION

[7]       The panel concludes that the claimants are Convention refugees.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[8]       The panel was provided with true copies of their Lebanon issued Travel Documents for Palestinian Refugees,3 as well as documents relating to their residency in the UAE.

[9]       The panel finds that the documents, and the testimony of the claimants, are sufficient to establish their identities on a balance of probabilities.

Countries of Habitual Residence

[10]     The claimants are stateless Palestinians. Statelessness per se does not give rise to a claim to refugee status: the claimant must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on a convention ground or that they possess a s.97(1) risk in a country of former habitual residence.

[11]     The concept of “former habitual residence” implies a situation where a stateless person was admitted to a country with a view to enjoying a period of continuing residence for some duration. The claimant does not have to be legally able to return to a country of former habitual residence. The claimant must have established a significant period of de facto residence in the country in question. The claimants must establish that they are persecuted in one country of former habitual residence, and are unable to safely return to any other.4

[12]     The Federal Court of Appeal established that a broad and liberal approach must be taken when assessing a proposed country of former habitual residence: there is no minimum period of residence required in that country, the analysis should not be unduly restrictive, the claimant does not need to be able to legally return; and the claimant must have established some significant period of de facto residence there.5

[13]     The male claimant and minor claimant lived for most of their lives in the UAE. The panel finds that the UAE is a country of habitual residence for them.

[14]     The claimants were able to legally enter and return to Lebanon, and if they had not gone to the United States and then Canada, they likely would have been required to return to Lebanon. The male claimant was born in Lebanon, the claimants presented documents that were provided to the claimants by the government of Lebanon, and the male claimant testified to having extensive family in Lebanon, and testified to intending to live in Lebanon with the minor claimant permanently.

[15]     The panel finds these circumstances are significant and substantially connect the claimants to Lebanon, and that Lebanon is a country of habitual residence for the claimants.

Nexus

[16]     The panel finds that the claimants have established a nexus to the convention, namely through their ethnicity as stateless Palestinians in Lebanon.

Credibility

[17]     The panel had serious issues with regard to the male claimant’s credibility.

[18]     The male claimant was, at times, flippant and dismissive of repeated questions from the panel. The claimant caused a considerable procedural difficulty at the first hearing date, when he admitted that he did not understand English to the extent required to understand his BOC without interpretation.

Incident in Lebanon

[19]     The claimant indicated that he was attacked by militants on his return to Lebanon in 2018. He testified that two men on motorcycles stopped the car he was travelling in on [XXX] 2018, seized him, beat him, stated they were from Hezbollah and would follow him wherever he went.

[20]     It was pointed out to the claimant that his BOC did not mention that the attackers threatened the claimant, did not mention the claimant was driving a car, did not mention that the attackers were on motorcycles, and did not mention the attackers had mentioned they were members of Hezbollah.

[21]     The claimant responded that he did not remember the situation very well.

[22]     The panel finds it unlikely that the claimant, given the claimant testified it was his only physical interaction with persecutors, would make so many mistakes in his description.

[23]     The panel rejects the claimant’s explanation for the omissions, and draws a negative inference with regard to his credibility.

[24]     Given the vast difference between the male claimant’s description of the incident in his BOC and in his testimony, the panel finds that the incident did not happen and that the claimant is not pursued by Hezbollah.

Other Incidents in Lebanon

[25]     However, the panel finds that the claimant has, through his testimony, established that he is a stateless Palestinian.

[26]     The claimant testified to having to pay a bribe every time he went through the airport, and to having family members who died in the camps from intrareligious warfare, and to having had difficulties as a businessman working in Lebanon due to his statelessness. It was also made clear that the minor claimant would have difficulty obtaining schooling and social services due to her status as a stateless Palestinian.

[27]     The panel accepts that the claimants are stateless Palestinians and the claimant’s description of the incident of 1983 and the resulting issues, which were presented in detail and made clear by the claimant’s testimony. The panel finds that the claimants have been subject to discrimination that, in its severity, amounted to persecution due their status as stateless Palestinians.

United Arab Emirates

[28]     The claimant credibly testified that, due to his last name, he was questioned by UAE security forces, and that he was asked to offer intelligence to UAE security. The claimant refused, which he testified put a mark on his security record.

[29]     Through documentary evidence,6 the panel finds that the claimant has established his status has been revoked in the UAE and finds that, on a balance of probabilities, he would be unable to return given his security issues.

SUBJECTIVE BASIS

[30]     The male claimant indicated he was afraid of returning to Lebanon due to the profile given to him by his last name and the treatment he suffered. The panel finds that the claimants have established a subjective fear of persecution.

OBJECTIVE BASIS

[31]     Objective evidence indicates that the claimants’ options as stateless Palestinians would be limited to either living in one of the refugee camps near Beirut, the conditions of which are described by the United Nations as “deplorable,”7 or to attempt to live in general Lebanese society without familial connections, which objective evidence indicates is bereft of all but menial employment and features extremely limited housing opportunities, as well as reduced access to social services and healthcare.8

[32]     Militant groups are common in Palestinian refugee camps and frequently engage in violent conduct against fellow Palestinians within the camps, including arrest and kidnapping of outsiders in camps without judicial oversight and without protection by Lebanese authorities.9 Objective evidence indicates that this is a risk regularly faced by stateless Palestinians in Lebanon.10

[33]     The panel finds that the claimants have an objective basis for their claim of persecution in Lebanon as stateless Palestinians, and that they would face a well-founded fear if they were to return there, given their lack of connections, the primary claimant’s age, and their status as stateless Palestinians.

STATE PROTECTION

[34]     The state is presumed able to provide adequate protection to its citizens. Therefore, claimants have the duty to seek state protection before seeking protection in Canada. However, in certain circumstances, it would be objectively unreasonable to expect a claimant to do so. Furthermore, the protection available to a claimant may not be adequate given their specific circumstances.

[35]     Lebanon does not provide state protection in Palestinian camps.11 Objective evidence notes that the security situation is generally poor throughout Lebanon for Palestinian refugees,12 and there is a “crisis of governance” in Palestinian camps that means Peoples Committees are generally seen as being unable to protect their constituents from harassment from Lebanese forces harassing their residents.13

[36]     The panel finds that the claimants have rebutted the presumption that adequate state protection exists for them in Lebanon with clear and convincing evidence.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE (IFA)

[37]     The claimants were asked if they would be able to live elsewhere in Lebanon, and were given the example of Beirut. The panel finds that the claimants would face persecution as stateless Palestinians throughout Lebanon.14

[38]     The panel finds that the claimants would not have an IFA in all of Lebanon.

CONCLUSION

[39]     The panel finds that the claimants face a serious possibility of persecution in Lebanon and can not return to the United Arab Emirates.

[40]     The panel accepts their claims.

(signed)           T. Nicholson

January 21, 2020

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1).
2 Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4.
3 Exhibit 1.
4 Thabet v. MC.I., [1998] 4 FC 21 (F.C.A.).
5 Maarouf v. Canada, [1994] 1 F.C.R. 723 (F.C.A).
6 Exhibit 5, pages 32-37.
7 Ibid., item 13.1.
8 Ibid., item 13.1.
9 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP) for Lebanon (29 March 2019), item 13.1.
10 Ibid., item 13.2.
11 Ibid., item 13.1.
12 Ibid., item 13.5.
13 Ibid., item 13.1.
14 Ibid., item 13.1.

Categories
All Countries Ethiopia

2020 RLLR 37

Citation: 2020 RLLR 37
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 21, 2020
Panel: M. Dookun
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Teklemicheal A Sahlemariam
Country: Ethiopia
RPD Number: TB8-06719
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000052-000057


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So I have enough information ma’am to go ahead and make a decision in your claim without hearing from your counsel. Mr. Interpreter I ‘m just going to mute you and you can do this simultaneously okay, counsel you know if you need me just wave right?

[2]       So ma’am based on the information that I have in front of me you are a [XXX] old female citizen of Ethiopia. You are seeking refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, sorry I see Mr. Interpreter looking at me are you hearing me okay Mr. Interpreter or have you waved interpretation?

[3]       INTERPRETER: She waived (inaudible)

[4]       MEMBER: You waived interpretation? Is that what happened?

[5]       INTERPRETER: Yes, I will stay though.

[6]       MEMBER: Got you, alright so I don’t have to mute you then fine.

[7]       So the specific details of your claim ma’am are set out in your basis of claim form which I’ve labelled Exhibit 2.

[8]       To summarize you are of Oromo ethnicity, in around [XXX] 2017 after your brother was displaced you along with other Oromo people demanded that the Oromia government seek justice for the Oromo people who were killed in an attack by the Liyu L-I-Y-U, forgive my pronunciation, police in [XXX] 2017.

[9]       So as a result of your actions you were detained overnight with the condition that you appear whenever the authorities demanded that you appear. After the state of emergency was declared in [XXX] 2018 you received word that two of the persons that were with you in [XXX] 2017 were arrested and two others had gone into hiding.

[10]     You then decided to flee Ethiopia for Canada. You fear that if you return to Ethiopia you could be killed by the government due to your ethnicity as Oromo and also due to your perceived political opinion and also due to your failure to comply with their demands which is to make yourself available whenever they ask for you.

[11]     There’s also a brief mention in your basis of claim form of a fear of your Muslim family members because of your marriage to a Christian man which occurred in approximately 1992 by the Western calendar. I have to note that this fear is not reiterated in your narrative.

[12]     Anyway the panel finds that you are a person in need of protection pursuant to Section 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[13]     With regard to your identity, you established your identity by way of your Ethiopian passport which I have in Exhibit 1. You testified that that is a genuine document, you established your identity as Oromo by way of your Kebele card which I have in Exhibit 4 and also a letter from an Oromo organization also in Exhibit 4. So, on a balance of probabilities the panel accepts your personal identity as you’ve alleged.

[14]     With regard to credibility I have to the [XXX] report in Exhibit 5 that report warned me that you may find being questioned reminiscent of being interrogated which might cause you to experience [XXX] throughout the hearing such [XXX].

[15]     The [XXX] report warns that you may display nonverbal behaviours in response to questions that are a reflection of your experiences in Ethiopia. So I was mindful of that as I was asking you questions this afternoon, that’s one of the reasons that the questions were few.

[16]     That being said you did testify in a straightforward manner, you made no attempts to embellish your testimony. There were no inconsistencies or contradictions inherent in your testimony. Your responses were all very detailed and direct.

[17]     I noticed that there were times where you switched from the Oromo language to the Amharic language but thankfully we had an interpreter who spoke and understood both languages so that was not a really a problem this afternoon. Overall the panel has no reason to doubt that your sworn testimony was truthful.

[18]     Now very briefly with regard to your religion and your fear based on the interfaith marriage, there was no real persuasive evidence put forward to support the allegation that there would be a risk to your life or a risk of persecution based on your interfaith marriage.

[19]     The documents at 12.1 specifically states that most major religions respected each other’s religious practises and permitted intermarriage. You may have faced some displeasure at the hands or the voice of your family members because of your choice but nothing that amounts to persecution or a risk to life. So the panel finds no objective basis for your fear based on your interfaith marriage.

[20]     Now with regard to the situation for the Oromo people in Ethiopia and the change of circumstances I rely heavily on the documentary evidence in Exhibit 3 which talks about the changes that have occurred in Ethiopia since the new Prime, Oromo Prime Minister has taken place.

[21]     Now the panel is aware that the Oromo people have faced persecution in Ethiopia at the hands of the Ethiopian government in the past just as you’ve described ma’am but the panel finds that the changes that have occurred in Ethiopia appear to be substantial and appear to be sustainable.

[22]     I’m going to talk about a few of those changes and this information comes from 2.1 of Exhibit 3, the government in Ethiopia took positive steps towards greater accountability under Prime Minister Abiy to change the relationship between security forces and the population.

[23]     On June 18th 2018, 2017, 2018 the Prime Minister 2018 yes, thank you counsel, the Prime Minister spoke to the nation and apologized on behalf of the government for decades of mistakes and abuse he said amount to terrorist acts. Prime Minister Abiy’s assumption to office was followed by positive changes in the human rights climate.

[24]     The government decriminalized political movements that had been accused of treason in the past, this includes many Oromo organizations. The government under Prime Minister Abiy also invited opposition leaders to return to the country and resume political activities. The government allowed peaceful rallies and demonstrations and continued steps to release thousands of political prisoners.

[25]     The document goes on to say that both the number and severity of human rights issues diminished significantly under Prime Minister Abiy’s administration and in some cases there were no longer, and in some cases the human rights issues were no longer issues by the end of the year.

[26]     Now some of these changes you indicated that you were aware of and some of these changes you indicated that you were not aware of because you don’t know much about the politics.

[27]     The panel understands from some of the documents that your counsel provided in Exhibits 4 and 6 that the situation in Ethiopia today is not perfect, that’s understood.

[28]     However based on the preponderance of the most recent objective documentary evidence the panel finds that the significant change of circumstances in Ethiopia has proven to be sustainable and is ongoing and it directly effects your situation ma’am.

[29]     So the panel finds given the change of circumstances in Ethiopia there is Jess than a mere possibility ma’ am that you would face harm at the hands of the Ethiopian authorities based on your previous political activities or your previous imputed or real political opinions or even your political opinions now and going forward.

[30]     Now that being said the panel finds that irrespective of your political affiliations and your political opinions there may be an outstanding warrant for your arrest in Ethiopia. Your committee members a couple of your committee members were arrested during the state of emergency and you testified that to date they have not been heard from.

[31]     So as far as you know they are still being detained. You were able to evade that arrest during that time by leaving Ethiopia. You testified this afternoon that you believe that there is a warrant for your arrest in Ethiopia an outstanding warrant for your arrest.

[32]     The panel finds on a balance of probabilities that if an outstanding warrant for your arrest exists that you may be detained upon entry to Ethiopia. So that’s separate from your political activities, this warrant for your arrest that may exist.

[33]     The documents tell me again relying on Exhibit 3 Item 2.1 states that if detained you could face torture and abuse at the hands of security officials. Inmates are reported to have been flogged and have suffered broken bones and head injuries at the hands of prison guards and sexual abuse is also a concern at the hands of prison officials.

[34]     Overall prison and pretrial detentions centre conditions are said to be harsh and in some cases life threatening. So the panel finds in this particular case ma’am that there is a serious possibility that you would face cruel and unusual treatment or punishment should you return to Ethiopia having evaded arrest in 2018.

[35]     So clearly because it is the state that your fear, the authorities that you fear there would be no state protection for in Ethiopia and similarly because the at this point the government or the police forces are the agents of persecution there would be no internal flight alternative available to you anywhere in Ethiopia.

[36]     So the panel therefore finds ma’am that you are a person in need of protection pursuant to Section 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Refugee Protection Division accepts your claim.

[37]     So that’s going to conclude the hearing for this afternoon, you can, you can interpret now Mr. Interpreter.

[38]     Thank you ma’am for your answers this afternoon, your claim has been accepted. Thank you Mr. Interpreter for your patience and your professionalism.

[39]     INTERPRETER: Thank you (inaudible)

[40]     MEMBER: The echo?

[41]     INTERPRETER: Yes (inaudible)

[42]     MEMBER: I know I know sometimes that can be an issue and then you know my accent is so heavy hahaha… that’s a problem as well.

[43]     INTERPRETER: No way.

[44]     MEMBER: You couldn’t understand when I said committee and I couldn’t understand when you said isn’t it so it’s fair right we had some trouble understanding each other so that’s fine and counsel of course it’ s always a pleasure working with you thank you for your time and your patience this afternoon

[45]     COUNSEL: Thank you bye bye.

[46]     MEMBER: You’re very welcome

[47]     INTERPRETER: Your comment about your comment about accent I feel bad.

[48]     MEMBER: You feel bad?

[49]     INTERPRETER: You said my accent is heavy but I told you, I thought it was me.

[50]     MEMBER: No, my no my accent haha…because to you I have an accent right, to you I have very strong accent and to me you have a very strong accent right but to each other you guys, you guys think you don’t have accents at all, you speak perfectly well, so everything was relative, everything is very subjective but we made it through that’s all that matters.

[51]     INTERPRETER: (inaudible) it was not about accent or anything but I hadn’t done any significant communication (inaudible)

[52]     MEMBER: Okay it does take some getting used to there is sometimes a delay you know like a very bad long distance phone call where the person speaks and you have to wait then pause and until you hear it so it does take some getting used to. Counsel and I we’re old pros at it now but…for your first video conference Mr. Interpreter you did amazing excellent job.

[53]     INTERPRETER: Yes (inaudible).

[54]     MEMBER: Alright, alright so everyone have a good afternoon than I’ m ending this call.

[55]     INTERPRETER: Thank you madam member.

[56]     MEMBER: Alright okay bye bye ma’am.

[57]     CLAIMANT: Thank you

[58]     MEMBER: You’re very welcome bye bye.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Slovakia

2020 RLLR 18

Citation: 2020 RLLR 18
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 10, 2020
Panel: Micheal Somers
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Howard Gilbert
Country: Slovakia
RPD Number: TB8-26137
Associated RPD Number(s): TB8-26192, TB8-26204, TB8-26205
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000114-0000117


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: The Panel has considered the testimony offered today. And the testimony is from the parents, the married couple in this family. The Board has also considered other relevant evidence in this case and is ready to render its decision orally. The claimants’ a family, a mother, father, husband, wife and two sons. One of the sons, obviously the youngest is a minor. They are all citizens of Slovakia. And they have all made claims for refugee protection under Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Regarding the youngest son, his mother has been designated as the representative for him in this proceeding.

[2]       Regarding the determination of the claim of the youngest son, the Board has taken into consideration Guidelines regarding Child Refugees. Regarding the claim of the female claimant, that is the mother, the Board has taken into consideration the Chairperson ‘s Gender Guidelines regarding all relevant factors such as social, cultural context in which the mother finds herself in respect to the issues of state protection. And the changing country conditions were examined with respect to the Gender Guidelines.

Allegations

[3]       The specifics of the claim are stated in the mother’ s, the adult female claimant’ s narrative which is found in her Basis of Claim form (BOC). She and the claimants allege the following. They are citizens of Slovakia and their ethnicity is that of Roma. They have been harassed, discriminated, threatened with violence and in some cases, assaulted while living in Slovakia. They maintain that the security apparatus in particular the police do not protect them because of their discriminatory attitude towards the Roma community. The claimants left Slovakia on or about [XXX], 2018. And filed their application for refugee protection on or about October 14th, 2018.

Determination

[4]       The Board finds that the claimants are Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The reasons are as follows.

ANALYSIS

[5]       The Board is concerned with the issues of credibility and state protection.

Identity and Credibility

[6]       The Board is satisfied with the claimants’ personal identity as well as being citizens of Slovakia. And this is based on certified copies of their passports. In addition, the Board is satisfied with the claimants’ ethnicity, that being Roma. It should be noted that the language that was used in today’s proceedings and hearing was that of Roma.

[7]       Furthermore, regarding their identity the Board found the two claimants that testified, the parents, that their testimony regarding their ethnicity was trustworthy, credible. As such, the Board accepts that the claimants are indeed Roma.

[8]       Regarding the country conditions articles and reports that were filed in this proceeding, it does indicate, that is the country conditions articles and reports, do indicate that the Roma community is discriminated on a continuous basis. Simply put, the country condition articles, reports do substantiate the claimants’ testimony and the allegations in their claim as to what they confronted. What other members of the Roma community confront on a daily basis.

[9]       I want to emphasize that the testimony, their brief testimony regarding the incidents that they confronted is substantiated in the country conditions articles. As such, the Board finds that the claimants do have a well­ founded fear of persecution. I would also like to emphasize that the country conditions articles and reports, many of them are from independent reputable international human rights organizations as well as reports from agencies and departments from very well dis-, respected western democracies such as Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

[10]     From the particular incidents that the claimants testified to and mentioned in their narrative, I think it would be fair to say not one of the incidents alone would amount to persecution.  However, put them all together I believe that they do amount to persecution. There, these incidents they testified to and more, and the country condition articles stated are continuous, widespread and yes, they do touch upon in my view core, some core human rights. It affects their education. And again it’ s based on their ethnic-, ethnicity. It affects their employment. It affects their treatment regarding social services. Many of these discriminatory attitudes are actually perpetrated by official agents of the government, including the police. It’s fair to say that this particular minority group as described in the country condition articles and reports are marginalized. Excluded from society in most of the spheres of normal daily life.

[11]     It is trite law that states that refugee law is forward-looking. If they return, would they be dis-, discriminated to the point of persecution. I’ve already answered that question, yes. I’m not going to go through the country condition articles, reports and, to any great detail. Because they all say the same. They state that there’s continued societal discrimination and violence towards the Roma in Slovakia. And yes, as the claimants testified to, there are incidents in which the police are, how I would describe, a little too aggressive and violent towards this particular minority community.

[12]     The reports indicate that extremists, nationalists, what could possibly be described as neo-Nazi groups continue to hold events designated or designated, or designed to intimidate the minority groups, including the Roma by these far right groups. Organized anti-Roma gatherings and locations where tension between the Roma and non-Roma population exist. There’s also indication that the Roma face discrimination not only regarding government services but also, to a certain extent, in the commercial sphere. That is indicate, indicate that employers in Slovakia refused to hire Roma.  And what is alarming is the statistics regarding the unemployed in Roma. That is unemployment statistics for non-Roma compared to Roma. There’s a stark difference.  A significant difference which cannot be explained away by coincidence.

[13]     Now, the Board does acknowledge that there is some comments made that the Slo-, Slovak government has expressed a willingness to improve the treatment of the Roma. And that the government has made commitments to the European Union to make efforts to improve conditions of its minority citizens including, the Roma. However, the Federal Court of Canada has held on a number of occasions that good intentions alone do not protect or improve the plight of the Roma in Slovakia. Is not good, is not good enough.

[14]     There’ s jurisprudence that states that having legislation that protects its citizens but not implemented at all or not adequately impie-, implemented while their citizens are being deprived of important rights, core rights, does not amount to adequate state protection. The Board finds that the Slu-, Slovak government at this time is unable to provide adequate state protection toits citizens of Roma ethnicity.

[15]     Simply put, the Board finds that the claimants have proved or rebutted the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence.

[16]     Based on the previous statements, it’ s clear that there is no viable IFA for these claimants as the discrimination against this minority group is widespread. And as noted, the Slovak government and the police at this time are not adequately protecting the Roma.

CONCLUSION

[17]     Based on this brief analysis, the Board finds that the claimants are Convention refugees. And accepts their claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Romania

2020 RLLR 11

Citation: 2020 RLLR 11
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 9, 2020
Panel: Marlene Hogarth
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Peter Ivanyi
Country: Romania
RPD Number: TB9-11480
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-11534, TB9-11543, TB9-11544, TB9-11545, TB9-11546
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000072-000075


DECISION

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

[2]       [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], [XXX], and [XXX]; are citizens of Romania and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       These claims were joined and the claimants’ mother [XXX] was the designated representative.

[4]       I find that you are Convention refugees according to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act because of your ethnicity, that being Roma, living in Romania.

[5]       You have alleged the following: you have experienced discrimination throughout your lives. The adult claimants have little schooling; all of the children have been harassed by their teachers and bullied by fellow students. You had difficulty finding work. When employment opportunities arose you were not hired when the employer recognized you as Roma; or if you were hired, you were shortly fired for some unknown excuse.

[6]       Sir, you joined a political party that wanted equality for the Roma people. You visited their homes to see how everyone was doing and organized rallies trying to get equal rights. The Romanian citizens became violent and threatened to kill you if you did not stop the demonstrations and leave Romania. Several Roma were injured, including you. The incidents were reported to the authorities; however the police did not investigate.

[7]       You operated a [XXX] to keep yourself and your family fed. Ma’am, you also worked there. You had to close the [XXX] after you were harassed on several occasions by Roman (sic) citizens and the police. They destroyed your [XXX] and stole your money. On one occasion your finger was badly ripped after an officer seized a vase. You reported these various incidents to the authorities; however you never received any help.

[8]       You decided the discrimination you endured was too much to take. You travelled to Germany and found work there. However you were verbally abused there and the minor, the younger children had difficulties with teachers and fellow classmates in school.

[9]     You decided to come to Canada to claim refugee protection. You arrived on [XXX], 2019 and made a claim on April 25th, 2019.

[10]     Your identities as Roma (sic) citizens has been established by your testimony and the certified copies of your passports held by Immigration Canada, found in Exhibit 1.

[11]     Credibility is always an issue in a refugee protection hearing. I found you were credible witnesses. Your answers were consistent with the documents and your narratives and evidence submitted in Exhibits 5 and 8. We also have country documents that support your allegations pertaining to the treatment that you received. These are all found in the Board’s documentation package found in Exhibit 3. Therefore I believe the allegations that you have written in support of your claim.

[12]     You have suffered discrimination throughout your lives. Documentary evidence found in Exhibit 3, 2.1, states that Romania is a constitutional republic with a democratic multi party parliamentary system. However significant human rights issues included police violence against Roma, endemic official corruption, law enforcement and authorities condoning violence against women and girls. The judiciary did take steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses but the authorities did not have effective mechanisms to do so and delayed proceedings involving alleged police abuse and corruption resulted in many of the cases ending in acquittals.

[13]     The same document continues; police officers were frequently exonerated in cases of alleged beatings or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Discrimination against Roma continued to be a major problem. Romany groups complained that police harassment and brutality including beatings were routine.

[14]     Both domestic and international media observers reported societal discrimination against Roma. They were denied access to or refused service in many public places. Roma also experienced poor access to government services, a shortage of employment opportunities, high rates of school attrition, and inadequate health care. Roma have a higher unemployment rate and a lower life expectancy.

[15]     Now these things are all, all types of occurrences that you had to endure throughout your lives; difficulties finding employment, not continuing your schooling, and having difficulties with the health care, where you had to pay your own. As a matter of fact when you were having your children you had to pay the nurses to come into the room to help you. Even though there is an order by the Ministry of Education forbidding segregation of Romany students, Romany students were placed in segregated classrooms located in separate buildings.

[16]     And I just want to read just a couple of lines from Exhibit 3, 13.4. It states, “The World Bank report indicates that Roma in Romania are poor, vulnerable and socially excluded. They face systematic discrimination by society which affects them in the areas of education, housing, health and employment. It has been learned that government officials make discriminatory statements against Roma. The housing situation is grim; twice as many Roma live in houses made with poor quality material and they have less access to gas, running water, sewage and electricity.”

[17]     As you mentioned in your testimony today, you lived in a two room house and a kitchen that had no running water and no electricity.

[18]     Now we know that there is a law that prohibits discrimination in Romania; however the government does not effectively enforce these prohibitions and Roma often experience discrimination and violence.

[19]     So taking into consideration ail of the evidence that I have in front of me and there are several documents in Exhibit 3 that agree with your testimony and allegations, so taking into account all of the evidence and the documents that show the various forms of discrimination, although the government is attempting to improve the situation with the Roma population discrimination in all forms continues to exist.

[20]     I find that this continued discrimination you have faced amounts to persecution. Therefore considering all of the evidence and your testimony I find that if you returned to Romania there is a serious possibility that you would continue to face persecution. And in your particular situation there is no state protection available for you; you have gone to the police with no results. And there is no Internal Flight Alternative.

[21]     Therefore I accept your claim. You are Convention refugees, according to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Congratulations to you all. You can go home and tell your children and I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for coming and telling me your story. I know it’s not an easy thing to do.

[22]     So thank you very much, Counsel, and everybody have a good day.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 24

Citation: 2020 RLLR 24
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 27, 2020
Panel: K. Khamsi
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amedeo Clivia (Clivea Law)
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-12901
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000143-0000145


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection made by [XXX]. So you claim to be a citizen of Turkey and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Your allegation are detailed in your-, in the narrative portion of your Basis of Claim form but to summarize, you fear persecution in Turkey due to your Kurdish ethnicity and your Alevi faith and also your support of the HDP. You mentioned that you have been discriminated and bullied because of your Kurdish ethnicity and also because of your religion.

[2]       You were arrested twice by the police in-, in Turkey. You were also involved with the HDP and you have relatives who were arrested and held in custody because of their involvement with the HDP. So, now you are afraid to return to Turkey and be discriminated because of your-, of your faith and also because of you are a supporter of the HDP and you are afraid that if you become involved in politics and you are arrested by the police, they find out that-, about your record and you would be in much more trouble. You also testified that you were involved in social media and that you have been criticizing the government and all that maybe held against you.

[3]       So, determination. I find that you are a Convention refugee based on your ethnicity and your political opinion.

[4]       Now, the identified issues are identity and credibility, your ethnicity. So, with respect to your personal identity, I find that you are a citizen of Turkey based on your testimony and documents that you have provided, including your passports.

[5]       With respect to your ethnicity and religious identity, I find on a balance of probabilities that you are of Turkish descent and Alevi faith. You needed prompting, your testimony was not that forthcoming when you were asked about your religion but you also provided some evidence with regarding the Alevi Cultural Centre here and a letter from the Kurdish Association. Too, you also explained that you did not speak Kurdish because your parents wanted to protect you, however, it’ s not something that you were hiding and that led to-, to-, to-, to travel as you have alleged in-, in your story.

[6]       Now with the regard to credibility, I find that your oral testimony did not contradict your written evidence. You needed prompting but there was no contradiction between your oral and written evidence. You were able to explain all the questions that I asked you. You have also provided evidence to support all your allegations. You have provided as I said, a letter from the Alevi Cultural Centre and from the Kurdish-, Toronto Kurdish Centre. You have provided evidence from your social media. I have a letter from your sister who corroborated your-, your story with regard to your arrest in [XXX] 2018.

[7]       I have reviewed also all country conditions documents that we provided in the NDP and by your counsel and the documentary evidence supports your allegations were always targeted and the information that we have in the NDP. They confirm that Kurds were already-, in Turkey, however, the situation has worsened since the-, the 2016 attempted coup and lots of people are-, were arrested in Turkey just because of-, of their background. Who-, so when you are Kurd and Alevi, it makes things worse and we have lots of evidence with regard to discrimination, with regards to Alevi.

[8]       Now, with regard to your political activities. The evidence indicates that if you are perceived to be a member or-, or of any political group, any opposition group sorry, in-, in Turkey, you may be subjected to human right violations and in-, in Turkey, those who are viewed as anti-government are subjected to lots of mistreatment. Specifically, Kurdish and Alevi’s, they are viewed as a threat to the government and as sometimes associated with the-, sorry, I’m trying to find the-, sometimes they can viewed-, be viewed as-, as associated to terrorist activities.

[9]       So, I find that your profile as a Kurdish and Alevi and your political activities may put you at risk of detention and torture at the hand of the government if you were to turn-, to return to Turkey, based on the objective evidence that we have on file. There were other issues that I did not touch, for example, delay in claiming and you went back to Turkey as well, it could have been considered as re-availment, however, you explained in your narrative and that’s I was-, the reason why that happened and you provided evidence with-, with regard to your delay. A letter from your friends who I did not held that against you.

[10]     Now I looked at state protection and given that the State is the agent of persecution, I find that, there is no state protection for you in Turkey and for the same reasons, I find that there is no internal flight alternative available to you in Turkey.

[11]     And to conclude, I find that you are Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-