Categories
All Countries China

2021 RLLR 87

Citation: 2021 RLLR 87
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 2, 2021
Panel: Avril Cardoso
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Jordana Rotman
Country: China
RPD Number: TC0-01847
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]        MEMBER: This is the decision for XXXX XXXX XXXX You are claiming to be a citizen of China and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case and I am ready to render my decision orally.

Determination

[2]        I find that you are a Convention refugee on the ground of religion for the following reasons.

Allegations

[3]       You allege the following. You were introduced to Christianity while working in Suriname in June 2017 from fellow Chinese ex-patriots. You returned to China and continued your Christian practice. In July 2018, while at a house church service, the PSB raided the home. After being interrogated and warned, you decided to leave China. With the aid of a smuggler, you came to Canada and claimed protection.

[4]       You allege if you return, you face persecution. You allege that there is no state protection for you or an Internal Flight Alternative.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[5]       I find that your personal identity as a citizen of China has been established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony, your RIC, passport and marriage certificate contained in Exhibits 5 and 6. I find that there is a link between what you fear and the Convention ground of religion and your claim is therefore assessed under Section 96.

Exclusion

[6]       You resided in Suriname from XXXX 2014 to XXXX 2015. From XXXX 2015 to XXXX 2017 and again from XXXX 2018 to XXXX 2018, I have considered whether you are excluded from protection under Article 1E of the refugee Convention. I find that you do not have status substantially similar to Suriname nationals, nor did you previously have such status or access to such status. To obtain permanent status, you testified that you require residence for five years and a stable job. The evidence establishes that you resided in Suriname on a temporary basis subject to renewable residence permits. If you allowed a permit to expire, you would not be allowed re-entry and had to reapply. In support of your testimony, you submitted your Suriname residence permit, foreigner’s registration and the judicial decision to extend your stay until XXXX XXXX XXXX 2018. The federal court has held that where the country a claimant has taken up residence is tentative, they do not fall within the ambit of Article 1E. I therefore find that you are not excluded.

Credibility

[7]       In terms of your general credibility, I 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 overall testimony was spontaneous, detailed, forthcoming and without embellishment. It was entirely consistent with your narrative. I find that you were introduced to Christianity in June 2017 while living in Suriname. Your testimony was detailed and most compelling. You described in detail what transpired at the house church service, explained how you were taught to pray and related the story of David and Goliath which you explained touched you briefly.

[8]       You testified that at the time you were scared because of an event which transpired and you were afraid of going out. You said that you learned God would protect you as you saw David prevail against Goliath with God’s support and you slept peacefully when you returned home that evening. In support of your testimony, you submitted a letter from a fellow house church member in Suriname, contained in Exhibit 6. I find that you continue to practice your faith at the house church when you returned to China in XXXX 2017. You testified that the services were held at Mr. XXXX home and he was a group leader. You said there were 10 members and identified the pastor. You described your baptism in great detail and explained the meaning of baptism to Christians. I note that the baptism process outlined in the True Jesus belief, disclosure contained in Exhibit 7. You also submitted a baptism certificate from the pastor in China contained in Exhibit 6. I find that you were questioned by the PSB on July 22, 2018 and accept this event as declared in your narrative.

[9]       You testified that you were able to exit China and did not encounter issues going through security. I find this is reasonable as you do not indicate that the PSB detained or charged you and it is therefore unlikely that your name would have been recorded. When asked why you needed to obtain a Canadian visa in August 2018 when you were in possession of a valid US visa, you testified that the smuggler advised you to do so as Canada embraced freedom of religion. I draw no negative inference against your credibility as you relied on an agent to leave China and you left China in XXXX 2018, only weeks after you were interrogated by the PSB. I find that your delay in claiming protection for 14 months is reasonable. You relied on advice from the agent, as well as your sister, who lives in Canada. You explained that the smuggler told you that without identity documents, your claim would fail and you would be deported to China. When asked if your sister helped to obtain legal advice in Canada, you said she made some telephone calls and was informed that you should expect a hearing in three to five months, and since you did not have your identity documents, your claim would be unlikely to succeed.

[10]     I find that you are a genuine Christian. You provided detailed and spontaneous testimony about your activities at the church you attend in Canada, which is materially consistent with the letter provided by the church you attend and can be found at Exhibit 6. You also testified about the 5 rules and 10 beliefs of True Jesus adherence spontaneously and in detail. Your testimony about the meaning and impact of your faith in your life was most compelling.

[11]     You explained that before you became a Christian, you consumed alcohol and did not listen to your parents and felt alone. You testified that you learned that you should be inspired by the Holy Spirit and not alcohol. You should listen to your parents in accordance with the 10 commandments and most importantly you learned that you can depend on God and pray to God for solutions. You said your faith has made you an easygoing person. I therefore find that your subjective fear is established by your credible testimony and corroborating documents.

Objective Basis

[12]     Your fear of being deported to China in the present circumstances is a fear that is well-founded in the objective documents. The US Department of State report in 2.1 writes about the state in position of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief. Authorities continue to imprison citizens for reasons related to politics and religion. The US International Religious Freedom Report writes about the 2019 to 2024 campaign of Sinicization to bring all religious doctrine and practice in line with CCP doctrine, the government offered financial incentives to law enforcement to arrest religious practitioners and to citizens who reported illegal religious activity. There are multiple reports of harassment and threats in Fujian province where you lived, this is in 12.1.

[13]     The US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2021 report says that Chinese authorities harassed, detained, arrested and imprisoned members of protestant house churches who refuse to join the state sanctioned three self patriotic movement, this is in 12.2. A request for information report writes that authorities have repeatedly stated that one of the aims of the new regulations is to eliminate independent house churches compelling most of them to become part of the (inaudible) in 12.28. Your Counsel has also submitted objective country condition evidence which supports a well-founded fear. There is a report that the True Jesus Church in Hanon, Province has been forcibly demolished by Chinese authorities. This is contained in Exhibit 6.

State Protection

[14]     There is a presumption of state protection unless the state is in a condition of complete breakdown. This presumption may be rebutted with clear and convincing evidence. In this case, the agent of persecution is the state. As the persecution you would face should you return to China is at the hands of the authorities, accordingly, I find there is no state protection available to you.

Internal Flight Alternative

[15]     I have also considered whether a viable Internal Flight Alternative exists for you. I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout China and therefore no Internal Flight Alternative is available to you as the state is the agent of persecution and will be motivated to find you.

CONCLUSION

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

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2021 RLLR 85

Citation: 2021 RLLR 85
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 18, 2021
Panel: L. Letheren
Counsel for the Claimant(s): John Savaglio
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TB9-34953
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-35006 / TB9-35018 / TB9-35025
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]    MEMBER: So these are the reasons for the claims made by XXXX XXXX, file number TB9-34953, who’s the principal claimant, the associate claimant, XXXX XXXX, TB9-35006, and the minor claimants XXXX XXXX, TB9-35018, and XXXX XXXX XXXX TB9-35025.

[2]    XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are citizens of Pakistan. The minor claimant, XXXX XXXX, is also a citizen of the United States of America. They’re all claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]    XXXX (ph), sorry, XXXX XXXX is the minor claimants’ father and he’s the designated representative for these minor claimants. These claims are being held together in accordance with the Refugee Protection Division rule number 55.

[4]    Your personal and national identities were established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and the certified true copies of the passports that were included in the file. They demonstrate that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are citizens of Pakistan. XXXX XXXX is a citizen of Pakistan as well as United States.

[5]    Your allegations are fully set out in your basis of claim forms which are Exhibits 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4. You allege that you’re Shia Muslims. For the past 14 years the principal claimant, you’ve run a successful business and your financial situation allow you to make large donations to the imambargahs in your home area in Gujranwala. And that you’ve helped and managed and administer the Shia religious Majalis in your imambargah.

[6]    You’ve also made many charitable donations to insist in improving the welfare of the poor in your community. You testified that your donations to the poor were given irrespective of the religion of the people. You were well-respected by many people in your business community, and because of your connections within the business community, you were able to assist many Shia leaders to get permission for religious ceremonies in Gujranwala.

[7]    You testified that your activities drew negative attention from the radical Sunni in your community who accused you of spreading Shia Kafir among the vulnerable Sunni. You allege you were attacked and injured by men who identified themselves as soldiers of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or LeJ when you were working in your office in Gujranwala.

[8]    You and your family then moved to Rawalpindi for protection, and when your family were travelling in your car coming home from the market, shots were fired at you. You made police reports about both of these incidents but protections were not forthcoming, and as far as you learned, the police never did investigate these incidents.

[9]    The threats from the LeJ members continued until you left Pakistan, and you’ve learned from your father that the LeJ have come to see him looking for you, and to give you warning not to return to Pakistan. And this happened after you had moved to Canada.

[10]  You believe that you cannot safely return to Pakistan with your profile as a prominent financially-stable Shia Muslim who’s active in your Shia community.

[11]  I find that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX are convention refugees as you have established a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Pakistan. For the principal claimant, XXXX XXXX, this is based on the grounds of section 96 of your religion as a Shia Muslim. The associate and the minor claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX are members of a particular social group as they are family members of a prominent Shia who was targeted because of his religion.

[12]  The minor claimant, XXXX XXXX, is not a convention refugee or a person in need of protection, as she has not established that there’s a serious possibility of persecution on a convention ground or that on a balance of probabilities she would be personally be subjected to a danger of torture, or face cruel and unusual treatment or punishment or risk to her life if she returned to the United States.

[13]  Therefore the following reasons apply to my assessment of the remaining claimants. I found you, the principal claimant who provided testimony, to be a very credible witness. I did not find any inconsistencies between your testimony and the documents.

[14]  Your evidence demonstrates for the past 14 years you have run your own business XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX The business has been successful and your financial situation has allowed you to make large donations to your imambargahs in your home area in Gujranwala.

[15]  Because of your prominence in your community you’ve helped to manage and administer the Majalis in your imambargah. You’ve made many charitable donations to assist in improving the welfare of your community. You testified that your donations to the poor were given irrespective of their religion. You were well-respected by many people in your community both Sunni and Shia members.

[16]  Your evidence is that your aim at doing the work in your imambargah and in your community was to reduce the misconceptions about Shia, and to present a peaceful image for both Shia and Sunni to live together. You promoted the peaceful relationships between the two groups in your community by organizing a number of religious ceremonies and, and inviting lecturers into your community to explain more about the commonalities between these groups as opposed to their differences.

[17]  As a result of this community involvement you were targeted by the LeJ. Members of the LeJ attacked you in your Gujranwala office. You were beaten and you were accused of spreading the Shia Kafir to the vulnerable Sunni. After you moved to Gujranwala — from Gujranwala to Rawalpindi and ended your religious and community activities, you continued to be threatened. Shots were fired at you and your family as you travelled through the city.

[18]  The LeJ made further threats to you and your family, and you had supporting documents submitted at Exhibits 4 and 5 to corroborate your allegations. You disclosed supporting letter from your imambargah in Pakistan and that document corroborated your allegations about your donations and your involvement, along with the threats you received.

[19]  You submitted police reports (indiscernible) reports, hospital records, and also you submitted many documents supporting your business activities. You had affidavits from several people who you had helped by making donations, and affidavits from your family members confirming your experiences, and that your father had been threatened since you left Pakistan.

[20]  These documents demonstrate your continued practice of the Shia faith in Canada. They also demonstrate the persecution you experienced. So I find on a balance of probabilities that these documents corroborate your testimony and support your allegations that you were targeted in Pakistan by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi due to your profile as a well-established Shia businessman with significant prominence in your home community in Pakistan.

[21]  You established your credible evidentiary basis for subjective fears in returning to Pakistan. Based on your credibility of your allegations and because of your profile, I find that you, your wife and children became targets of the LeJ. The evidence demonstrates that you continue to be targeted even after you left Pakistan.

[22]  It established that you will continue to be an active Shia member if you were to return to Pakistan, and the feature if you would continue to demonstrate the importance to you of making donations and to assist those who are less fortunate. You expressed how important these activities are to you, as they integral to your beliefs.

[23]  Your testimony and the documentary evidence that we have demonstrates that well-founded fear of persecution and there’s a serious possibility that you and your family will be subjected to death threats and violence at the hands of Islamic extremists if you returned to Pakistan.

[24]  The evidence establishes that there’s been an increase in killings of Shias by militant groups, and targeted killings of Shia Muslim professionals and officials and prominent businesspeople in Pakistan. The risks you would face are corroborated by the package of country condition documents that are submitted at Exhibit 3; the national documentation package for Pakistan.

[25]  Item 7.12 of that national documentation package describes the LeJ as a band Sunni militant group, a Sunni terrorist outfit being one of the most violent extremist organizations in Pakistan. It’s been responsible for the killing of hundreds of Shias since its formation in 1996, and the group has been behind some of the most violent attacks of Shia Muslims in the recent years.

[26]  Item 1.8 of the national documentation package reports that the militant groups responsible for some of the most — are responsible for most of the attacks against Shias, are including the LeJ, and that sectarian violence against Shia continues to be a growing threat in Pakistan. There are reports of targeted killings of Shia professionals and officials, including doctors, politicians, prominent businesspeople, which is a profile that I find the principal claimant fits within.

[27]  Item 12.5 indicates that Shia have traditionally represented the highest proportion of casualties in sectarian violence throughout Pakistan, noting that Shia faced threats from many militant groups including the LeJ. The Shia community is very large in Pakistan, and so not all Shias from Pakistan have a well-founded fear of, of persecution.

[28]  However, the national documentation package supports your claim that due to the principal claimant’s prominence as a successful professional who’s made significant donations and being very active in the Shia community, you have a profile that would be likely attractive to the extremists like the LeJ.

[29]  Your evidence demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that you’ve established a well-founded fear of persecution should you return to Pakistan.

[30]  I find that you’ve also rebutted the presumption of state protection in your case. I accept that you contacted the police, that protection was not forthcoming. You filed reports to the police, your brother checked, checked back with the police and you’ve learned that nothing has ever been given as far as information with respect to the steps of the investigation into the incidents you reported.

[31]  The objective documentary evidence in the national documentation package shows that the government has been criticized for failing to protect Shia Muslims from attacks and for allowing militant groups to operate with impunity, failing to investigate and punish those responsible for the violent attacks against Shias in Pakistan. It describes the authorities as often being indifferent, incompetent, and even complicit in the violence against Shias.

[32]  Item 7.12 states that if someone is threatened by the LeJ, asking for protection from police is not effective because the Shia community is too large and the police cannot provide security to everyone. The courts are also ineffective because many of the witnesses don’t come forward to testify out of fear, and therefore they release suspects due to lack of evidence.

[33]  In light of all this evidence I find there’s a preponderance of objective documentary evidence that there’s a clear and convincing evidence before me that the state is unable and unwilling to provide you with adequate protection.

[34]  I considered whether it was safe for you to live in another area of Pakistan, and I suggested Lahore could be a viable alternative. I accept your evidence about the importance for you to be able to practice your faith and continue to contribute to your community.

[35]  You testified that through these actions, through your business transactions, through your need to register or your rental documents and other documents with the police you would be identified, and that those working in government administration, many of whom could be sympathizers to the LeJ would identify you and you would be discovered.

[36]  Item 1.8 of the national documentation package indicates that armed militant groups such as the LeJ have a wide geographic reach in Pakistan. Item 7.2 reports that the LeJ is responsible for violence throughout Pakistan, and that likely there’s no internal flight alternative available to those at risk of being targeted, or who have already been targeted by such groups.

[37]  The LeJ continued their threats even after you left Gujranwala, and since coming to Canada. This demonstrates that they have a continued interest in finding you and that they would find you and harm you if, if you returned to Pakistan.

[38]  Even if you were able to relocate for a short period of time in Lahore, your active faith and your, and your donations, your activities in your community would again make you a prominent figure in this community and this would create a serious possibility that you would eventually be found and persecuted in the future.

[39]  It would be unreasonable for the Board to expect you to restrict your religious practices and your freedom to assist your communities just because of your fear of this group. The LeJ has been persistent in its search for you, demonstrated a continued motivation, and I find that they have the capacity to find you, given their reach and influence in Pakistan.

[40]  The associate claimant and the minor claimant are also Shia. The associate claimant and the children may not have the same heightened profile as the principal claimant, but they are also at risk. In the past you were, you were with the principal claimant in a vehicle when you were under attack. The LeJ soldiers have indicated that they would harm all of you as a family.

[41]  You’ve credibly demonstrated on the evidence that there’s a serious possibility that you also would face risk if you returned to Pakistan and throughout Pakistan, including Lahore.

[42]  The Board therefore finds that on a balance of probabilities the claimants’ lives would be at risk throughout Pakistan. The Board’s determined that the claimants have no viable internal flight alternative in Pakistan, including Lahore.

[43]  Based on this analysis I conclude that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are convention refugees and I accept your claims.

[44]  The minor claimant, XXXX XXXX, is neither a convention refugee nor a person in need of protection. Her claim is therefore rejected by the Board.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Iran

2021 RLLR 84

Citation: 2021 RLLR 84
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: April 6, 2021
Panel: Chelsea Peterdy
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ardeshir H Zarezadeh
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TB9-31929
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]    MEMBER: This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection of XXXX XXXX, file number is TB9-31929. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case, and I am ready to render my decision orally. You are claiming to be a citizen of Iran and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97.(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Determination:

[2]    I find that you are a Convention refugee on the grounds of your religion for the following reasons.

Allegations:

[3]    Your allegations are set out in your Basis of Claim form, which is found in Exhibit 2. In summary, you allege that you are a citizen of Iran who was born Muslim but converted to Christianity after coming to Canada in XXXX 2019. You alleged that you faced a number of problems with the Iranian regime that began during your university years in the late ‘70s. You alleged that you were opposed to the regime after the revolution and that you had become politically active.

[4]    You were detained for one week in 1981 and questioned about your activities and your friends’ activities. You also allege that you had difficulties as a woman and struggled to find employment due to your political activities and gender. Furthermore, in March 2019, you allege you were arrested and detained for one night for violating the dress code.

[5]    Your husband posted your bail the next day to have you released. He testified that you struggled a lot and experienced intense inner turmoil. In or around 2014, 2015, you began attending a yoga class. In this class, you met other Christians who would talk to you about Christianity and Jesus Christ. The yoga instructor also provided you a book on peace that included quotes from the Bible and Jesus Christ.

[6]    You became interested in Christianity but could not explore further in Iran. You came to Canada in XXXX 2019 to visit your sister and started attending a Christian church here. Since May 2020, you have been attending a church online that has Bible studies in Farsi. You wish to be baptized, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have unable to. You fear that if you return to Iran, you would be arrested and killed for converting to Christianity.

Identity:

[7]    Your identity as a national of Iran has been established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and the supporting documents filed in Exhibits 1 and 5, such as your passport.

Credibility:

[8]    In terms of your general credibility, I find that you are a credible witness and therefore, believe what you have alleged. You were straightforward and forthright in your oral testimony. While you could not remember the name of the church, you were able to tell me your pastor’s name. You testified that you attend church twice a week online and that you were introduced to this church through a friend named XXXX (ph).

[9]    You were able to tell me about the service, your favourite passage from the Bible and what it means to you, how you celebrated Easter and the meaning of the holiday, as well as what it means to you to be a Christian and the peace and calm you have found since converting. I have also considered the documentation you filed, including the assessment from the psychotherapist where you talked about the difficulties you faced in Iran and its impact that it has had on your mental state.

[10]  You have been diagnosed with XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and I have considered the report in assessing your credibility today. You also provided a letter from XXXX XXXX XXXX (ph) who confirms that you have been attending his church online since May 2020 and describes you as an enthusiastic member of the Farsi speaking Bible study which meets weekly.

[11]  You provided an email from a friend in Iran who describes your political activities in university and how you have talked to him about Christianity for the past few years. You also provided the bail receipt confirming your husband posted your bail on March 26, 2019 after you had been arrested for dress code violations in Iran. Therefore, based on your credible testimony and the documentary evidence provided, I find on a balance of probabilities that you have converted to Christianity and that you have established a subjective fear of persecution.

Objective Evidence:

[12]  The objective documentation supports your allegations and the risks you face on return to Iran as a Christian convert. The objective evidence in the National Documentation Package talks about the persecutory treatments of Christians and in particular, Muslims who have converted to Christianity.

[13]  Items 12.1 and 12.15 of the National Documentation Package state that Iran is an Islamic Republic and Islam is the official state religion. The law prohibits Muslim citizens from changing or renouncing their religious beliefs and the only recognized conversions are from another religion to Islam. Apostasy from Islam is a crime punishable by death and Christin converts face harassment, interrogation, and arrest from the government and are forced to practice in secret. Additionally, I have considered the evidence in the National Documentation Package on the human rights situation for women in Iran.

[14]  Item 2.1 says that amongst a significant human rights abuses in Iran, there is a harsh governmental restriction on the rights of women.

[15]  Item 2.5 states that women face discrimination and personal status matters and talks about the dress code in Iran and harsh sentences for women who protest compulsory hijab laws.

[16]  I find this evidence regarding the treatment of women also heightens the risk you faced in Iran, not only as a Christian convert, but as a woman. Therefore, based on this documentary evidence, I find that you have an objectively well-founded fear of persecution due to your religion that is only exacerbated by your gender.

State Protection:

[17]  I find that state protection would not be available to you were you to seek it in Iran. There is a presumption that absent to complete (inaudible) are capable of protection their citizens, however, there are agents of the state themselves are sources of persecution presumptuous of state protection may be rebutted without exhausting all avenues or recourse in the country.

[18]  In this case, the agent of persecution is the state that bans conversion to Christianity and restricts freedom of religion. Therefore, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection and that adequate state protection would not be available to you in Iran.

Internal Flight Alternative:

[19]  I have also considered whether a viable Internal Flight Alternative exists for you, however, given that Iran is in control of all of its territories and the persecution of Christians is state wide, I find that you face a serious possibility persecution throughout Iran and there is no viable Internal Flight Alternative for you.

Conclusion:

[20]  Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that you are a Convention refugee and your claim is therefore accepted.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2021 RLLR 79

Citation: 2021 RLLR 79
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 4, 2021
Panel: Laurie Letheren
Counsel for the Claimant(s): John Savaglio
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TC0-01196
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01778
ATIP Pages: N/A

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: I’ve had an opportunity to review your testimony today as well as all of the documents you provided, and I am now ready to provide my decision and my reasons.  I have found that you are a Convention refugee on the basis of your religion, as a Shia Muslim who is persecuted because of your religion in Pakistan. And here are, the following are my reasons.

[2]       So, this is the claim made by XXXX XXXX, file number TC0-01196. You’ve established both your personal identity and your citizenship as a citizen of Pakistan through your documents and in particular, the certified true copy of your passport. The allegations that you made were set out fully in your Basis of Claim form at Exhibit 2. As well as the amendments you made to that form at Exhibit 4.

[3]       You allege that you are a Shia Muslim. You had some success, financial success as an XXXX when you worked in the U.A.E. where you worked for many years. And even though you were unable to openly practice your Shia faith in the U.A.E., you remained dedicated to your Shia faith and your community. And you made large donations to your Imam Bargah for its expansion back in Pakistan. You gathered donations from other members of the Shia community in the U.A.E. and with those, you were able to again make further large donations in 2018.

[4]       This resulted in some suspicion by the Government of the U.A.E. And you were questioned by the U.A.E. Intelligence about your Shia activities and you were ordered to leave the U.A.E. in July of 2019. And that you and your family did leave in, XXXX of 2019.

[5]       So, I find that although you lived in the U.A.E. for many years, your residency there was temporary. And you didn’t have a status in the U.A.E. that was substantially similar to that of its nationals. So, I therefore find that the circumstances of your claim do not engage any exclusions under Article 1-E of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[6]       So, according to your allegations and the testimony you gave today, you moved to Pakistan in XXXX of 2019.  You became very engaged in your Shia community.  And you were appointed as the XXXX XXXX of the Imam Bargah. You became very popular with the religious leaders and with members of your community. And you became very well known throughout your community.

[7]       This attracted the attention of the Sunni extremists and in particular, members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who threatened you to the point where you feared for your life. And you left Pakistan in XXXX of 2019. You feel you can’t return to Pakistan with your profile as a prominent Shia who is very active in your community. And that because of this prominence and the interconnectedness of members of the LeJ and other Sunni extremist groups, you wouldn’t be safe anywhere in Pakistan. You would not be provided adequate state protection.

[8]       I found that you were a very credible witness. I didn’t find any inconsistencies between your testimony and what you have in your Basis of Claim form and the documents you filed. It did demonstrate that you worked in the U.A.E. as an XXXX for many years. And that you were able to provide XXXX XXXX to your Imam Bargah in the form of very substantial donations on your own. And then very substantial donations over a period of time through the donations you collected through other members of the Shia community in the U.A.E.

[9]       You sent that money to Imam Bargah in Sialkot (ph) which is a city in the Punjab Province. And you helped to maintain the Imam Bargah to expand it and to XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX Of Imam Bargah. A great deal was done by your donations to assist this Imam Bargah.

[10]     After you returned to Sialkot, you were assigned the role of the XXXX XXXX XXXX of your Imam Bargah which involved XXXX XXXX and in these events you explained that it was a bit unique the type of Majaliss and organizing that you did. ln that you had both Sunni and Shia speakers who came together that you explained to speak about the common believes of the Sunni and Shia. And to attempt to moderate the differences between these two (2) Muslim sects in Pakistan.

[11]     You wanted to work towards the education of the people. And to try to debunk some of the misconceptions that the Sunnis have about Shia. You testified how important it was to you to do this because in the 80s and 90s, you didn’t have so many difficulties being a Shia and being a minority in Pakistan. You explained that through all this work that you did, you became very well known. And a prominent member of your Shia community. You were out in your community often, talking to the members. And you became a face that was recognizable.

[12]     So, as a result of all of this involvement, you were targeted by the anti-Shia extremist group the Lashkar-e­ Jhangvi or the LeJ. On one (1) evening after the Majaliss on September 10th, 2019 your car was stopped by armed men. You were beaten and assaulted by these men who told you that they had received from reports from their supporters, from the people who support and who believe in them, about your work. And the work that you were doing in the area. And they were accusing you of influencing impressionable Sunni. And trying to convert the Sunni to be Shia. And they called you a Kafir, and that you were spreading the Shia Kafir.

[13]     So, after this happened and you were hospitalized, your family and the leaders of the Imam Bargah suggested that you should be leaving Sialkot. And so, you and your family moved to an area of Rawalpindi. But the same day, you said around 4 o’ clock on September 11th, you received a call from a group identifying themselves again as the LeJ. They called you a Kafir and said you were on their hit list and they would shoot you the next time they saw you in Pakistan.

[14]     You reported this call to the police. And the police said you should take your own precautions, provide your own safety because they couldn’t do anything to assist you as they didn’t have enough information about the men who attacked you. In order to try to have some safety, you turned off your phones. And you tried to keep yourself hidden while you were in Rawalpindi.

[15]     On the same day, September 11th, 2019 your parents told you that some armed men attended at their home. They did some damage to their home. They explained they were trying to find you to make an example of you. And that they would, to tell you, warn you, that they would find you. And if they did, they would kill you. Your brother reported this incident to the police. And they told him to tell you, you should just leave Pakistan as it appeared that the LeJ were intent on finding you and that they would kill you.

[16]     So, you left for Canada in the next few days. Your family has reported that neighbours have told them that from time to time these same extremists have come around your neighbourhood in Sialkot asking for you. And that as recently as April 4th 2021 some people came around asking about you. Said they still planned to kill you if you returned to Pakistan.

[17]     So, all of your supporting documents which are at Exhibits 5 and 6 corroborate your allegations. You disclosed letters from your Imam Bargah which corroborated the work that you did. The donations you made. And the persecution you experienced. You also submitted police reports, FIRs, and hospital reports which corroborated your testimony. You have many affidavits from several individuals who confirmed your involvement with the Shia community in Pakistan. As well as the threat and harms that you experienced by the LeJ. The affidavits from your brother confirm that members of the LeJ continue to ask about you and continue to threaten you. So, your documents do demonstrate as well that you continue to practice your Shia faith in Canada. Given the COVID restrictions, it’s not how you would ordinarily practice, but you are a member of the Shia community.

[18]     So, I find on a balance of probabilities that these documents corroborate your testimony and support your allegations. That you were targeted in Pakistan by the LeJ due to your profile as an established Shia, prominent in your community. You’ve established a very credible evidentiary basis for your subjective fears of returning to Pakistan.

[19]     And based on your credibility and your allegations, that you became a target of the anti-Shia extremist group, the LeJ, and that this continues. And also, your evidence is corroborated and supported by the documentary evidence that we have in our National Documentation Packages. They demonstrate that you have a well-founded fear of this persecution. That there is a serious possibility that you would be persecuted by the LeJ if you were to return to Pakistan.

[20]     The evidence in the NDP demonstrates there have been increased killings of Shia by militant groups. Targeted killings of Shia professionals and officials and those who are prominent members of the community. It also establishes the risk that you would face, especially at exhibits throughout the National Documentation Package. Such as at Item 1.8 that reports that militant groups are responsible for most of the attacks against Shia. And that groups such as the LeJ have continued to be growing and they are a growing threat. There are reports about targeting killings of professionals, Shia professionals and officials. And those who have a profile such as yours, to be prominent. Persons such as engineers who are perceived to be a financial influence. And could be influential throughout the Shia community.

[21]     Item 12.5 indicates that Shia have traditionally represented a higher proportion of the casualties of the sectarian violence throughout Pakistan. And in particular, by anti-Shia militant groups. Even though the Shia community is a very large community in Pakistan and not all Shias from Pakistan have a well-founded fear of persecution, the NDP does support your claim that due to your prominence and being someone who is now targeted, you would continue to likely be more, there’s a very high reason to anticipate that you would be targeted if you returned to Pakistan. So, I find that this objective evidence demonstrates on a balance of probabilities that you’ve established a well-founded fear of persecution should you return to Pakistan.

[22]     You’ve rebutted your presumption of state protection. You indicated that even though you registered the incident that happened with the first information report, you were told that the police would not be naming the LeJ even though they had clearly identified themselves to you. When you made further complaints about the threats at your parents’ home and the phone calls that you received, you were just told by the police to take your own precautions. That they couldn’t help you. And that perhaps in the end they suggested you should leave the country as it appeared that this group was motivated to kill you. And that they couldn’t provide you with the safety you needed.

[23]     This is also supported in the objective documentary evidence we have in the National Documentation Package. Which demonstrates that the government has been criticized for failing to protect the Shia community from their attackers. And for allowing militant organizations to operate with impunity. They failed to investigate or punish those that are responsible for violent attacks against Shias in Pakistan.

[24]     As well, Item 7.12 states that if someone has been asking for some protection from extremist organizations, the police are not effective. They cannot provide security. And courts are not effective. And often, as you indicated, these groups seem to be able to get their members released from courts due to what is often called lack of evidence. So, I find that both your testimony and the evidence, that there’s a preponderance of evidence to demonstrate that you have clear and convincingly demonstrated that the state is unable and unwilling to provide you with adequate state protection.

[25]     At the beginning, l suggested that you may have an internal flight alternative within the city of Lahore. But I accept your testimony about the influence and the interconnectedness of these extremist groups. As well as their connections within the police and other government organizations. They have a presence throughout and are connected throughout Pakistan.

[26]     Item 1.8 of the National Documentation Package indicates that armed militant groups such as the LeJ have wide geographic reach. Item 3.18 confirms what you were testifying about, the need to register any rental agreement you have with the police. As well as any kind of various interactions you would have with government officials. Just in doing your daily business.

[27]     And Items 7.9 and 7.10 discuss how the police and government in Pakistan work together with these extremist organizations. They continue, the LeJ continue to make threats even though you moved from your original location in Sialkot. And they also have demonstrated that they are continuing, have a continuing interest in finding you. And have indicated that if they were to find you, they would kill you.

[28]     They’ve therefore demonstrated their motivation to continue to locate you. Regardless of where you would be in Pakistan. You’ve indicated that even if you were to move to Lahore, you may only be protected for a short time. Because due to the importance of practicing your faith, being part of Imam Bargah and being a part of your community, you would eventually be located.

[29]     There’s a serious possibility that those within Lahore who support a group such as the LeJ would be able to inform them where you are. l find that it is unreasonable to expect you to restrict your religious practice or restrict any of your freedom because you fear this group.

[30]     So that, l therefore find that on a balance of probabilities, your life would be at risk throughout Pakistan. You have no internal flight alternative that is viable for you, including Lahore. You also would have no state protection.

[31]     So, therefore based on all of my analysis, all of your testimony, the evidence that we have, I conclude that you are a Convention refugee. And I accept your claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Somalia

2019 RLLR 220

Citation: 2019 RLLR 220
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 14, 2019
Panel: A. da Silva
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Douglas Lehrer
Country: Somalia
RPD Number: TB6-04576
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2020-00584
ATIP Pages: 000438-000440

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: Sir, I’ve considered your testimony and the evidence in this case and I’m prepared to render an oral decision.

[2]       Okay and when the written reasons are issued they may be edited for spelling, grammar and references to documentary evidence.

[3]       This is the decision in the claim of, XXXX XXXX XXXX, who claims to be a citizen of Somalia and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[4]       The claimant alleges the following:

[5]       He is a member of the minority XXXX clan and practices the Sufi version of Islam.

[6]       In 1993, while living in Kismayo, he and his family were attacked by members of the Hawiye clan. As a result, his mother was injured and eventually died from the injuries.

[7]       He and his family then fled to the village of <inaduible>where they had relatives.

[8]       ln 2002, the family left for the safety of Kenya and the claimant stayed there until he left for the United States in 2015.

[9]       In the United States, he made a claim for asylum which was rejected. He subsequently crossed the border into Canada and initiated a claim for refugee protection.

[10]     The key issues in this case were the claimant’s identity, credibility and internal flight alternative.

[11]     His personal and national identity as a citizen of Somalia has been established by his testimony and the evidence presented at his initial hearing which was subsequently confirmed by the Refugee Appeal Division.

[12]     At his de novo hearing today, the claimant testified as to his identity as a member of the XXXX clan and his Sufi religious background. A witness also appeared on his behalf and confirmed that he knows the claimant to be a member of the XXXX clan and his Sufi religious background.

[13]     I am persuaded, on a balance of probabilities, that he is who he says he is with respect to his clan affiliation and religious background.

[14]     I also find that the claimant’s testimony has been consistent and been delivered in a direct manner with a ring of truth. I find him to be a credible witness.

[15]     The most recent information on country conditions indicate that the Somali authorities have limited ability to provide human rights protection to society. The situation in both Mogadishu and Kismayo, though under the control of the African Union Mission in Somalia, continues to be precarious.

[16]     I have considered the claimant’s profile and the current situation in Somalia and whether he could live in either Mogadishu or Kismayo if he was returned to Somalia. Somalia continues to be a dangerous country, especially for members of the minority clans and those who practice less conventional forms of Islam.

[17]     The claimant is also someone who has been out of the country for some 17 years and would find it difficult to assimilate into the current culture and situation.

[18]     He would, therefore, be viewed with suspicion, especially by certain elements, such as, members of Al-Shabaab.

[19]     Having considered the evidence, including his testimony and that of his witness, the claimant’s profile and the current conditions in Somalia, I find that there is a reasonable chance that he would be harmed were he to be returned to Somalia.

[20]     I, therefore, find that he has satisfied the burden of establishing a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground and I, therefore, conclude that he is a Convention refugee and I accept his claim.

[21] I will return through Counsel, his original documents.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Iraq

2019 RLLR 219

Citation: 2019 RLLR 219
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 15, 2019
Panel: M. Lalonde
Counsel for the Claimant(s): John Rokakis
Country: Iraq
RPD Number: TB6-07934
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2019-00482
ATIP Pages: 001574-001577

On January 15, 2019, the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) heard the claim of  XXXX, who claims refugee protection under sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). On that same day, the panel rendered its oral positive decision and reasons for decision. This is the written version of the oral decision and reasons that have been edited for clarity, spelling, grammar and syntax with added references to the documentary evidence and relevant case law where appropriate.

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the claim to refugee status made by Madam XXXX file number TB6-07934.1

[2]       The claimant is a citizen of Iraq. An edited copy for clarity, grammar, and syntax will be sent to the claimant and I may add references to documentary evidence or jurisprudence if appropriate.

DETERMINATION

[3]       I find the claimant a Convention refugee under Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act2 for the following reasons.

[4]       The claimant arrived in Canada in 2016. She came from XXXX where she was given a protection document from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).3 The claimant had a previous hearing and during that first session she was given a negative decision. The panel had wondered if there was not a possibility for the claimant to return to Lebanon.

Identity

[5]       Firstly, I will deal with the issue of identity. The claimant established her identity by providing her passport, a citizenship certificate, as wells as the certificate from the High Commissioner for Refugees.4 There are other documents which do not need to be mentioned.

[6]       There is no doubt that the claimant is an Iraqi citizen.

[7]       The (UNHCR) certificate indicates that the document was only valid until 20l6. It is not a permanent residency status. The Minister acknowledged this (fact). Exhibit 8 and 9 indicate that the documentary evidence before the Minister at this time does not suggest that the claimant has permanent resident status in Lebanon. At exhibit 8, the Minister indicated that the relevant information related to identity and credibility issues is already before the Board. The Minister has nothing else to add and will not intervene on this claim at this time.

[8]       The (identity) concern has been cleared to the satisfaction of the tribunal. Therefore, the case is against Iraq only.

ALLEGATIONS

[9]       The claimant listed the problems that prompted her to leave Iraq in her Basis of Claim (BOC).5

[10]     In a nutshell, the claimant was residing in XXXX with her family. Her brother was kidnapped by ISIS. Her father paid a hefty ransom. He (her brother) was not released even though the ransom had been paid. The army was able to free her brother. Moreover, through all of this they were bombing. The shop of her father was looted and burnt: everything was destroyed. The whole family had to leave XXXX.

[11]     The claimant’s brother and father came to (the hearing) to provide explanations on their residency in XXXX. The panel found the two witnesses credible. They were candid and testified in a straightforward manner. There were no discrepancies between the answers to all questions asked, or with the written statements and previous statements throughout their testimonies.

[12]     The panel has no reasons to doubt the credibility of all the witnesses and including the testimony of the claimant.

State protection

[13]     Therefore, it leaves the question: what would happen to the claimant should she return to Iraq. As they testified (the claimant and witnesses), as well as in documentation, they are problems … (still): the situation is still dangerous in Iraq. Documentary evidence supports the claimant’s allegations that (bombing incidents) are occurring even in this (year) early 2019.

[14]     The US Department of State report on Iraq, country reports on human right practices for 2017 for Iraq outlines the general political situation and human lights climate in Iraq is tense. Violence continued throughout the year (2018) largely fuelled by the action of the Islam State in Iraq and Syria ISIS.

[15]     Although Government forces fought to liberate territory taken earlier by ISIS including XXXX, armed clashes between ISIS and government forces caused civilian death and hardship, and indeed security forces had liberated the territory from ISIS drastically reducing ISIS’s ability to commit abuse and atrocities. However, the most significant human rights issues included allegations of unlawful killings by some members of ISF, and particularly some element also of another group PMF. Disappearance, extortion, elements, and torture is also reported.6

[16]     It shows that ISIS committed the majority of serious abuses and atrocities. ISIS members committed acts of violence on a mass scale including killing through suicide bombings and improvise explosive devices, executions including shooting and public beheading, use of civilians as human shields, as well as use of chemical weapons, and the list goes on to include kidnapping, rape, enslavement, forced marriage, and sexual violence.7

[17]     Such acts were committed against civilians from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds including Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, and Yiddish.8

[18]     In this kind of climate, as her brother pointed out, the claimant, a woman, cannot live by herself. Of course, in her culture it would be highly risky should she return to Iraq.

[19]     Therefore, whatever progress had been made around XXXX, it’s still a town which is according to the claimant’s brother, 90 percent is destroyed and is not safe. As well they are also bombing in Baghdad and other places. Reports from other sources do report such incidents.

[20]     Therefore, one cannot expect that State protection (to be available)9 in this kind of climate. Moreover, the claimant, according to her allegations is situated in a position where she would still face more than a mere possibility of being persecuted should she go back to Iraq.

[21]     Lastly, those allegations are the same for the whole family. Her father was accepted as a refugee in XXXX 2014.

[22]     For all these reasons her claim is accepted, as I indicated under Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

—REASONSCONCLUDED—

1 This is a De Novo hearing pursuant to the claimant’s appeal, which was granted January 23, 2017.

2 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 as amended, sections 96 and 97 (1). 

3 The UNHCR Refugee Protection document confers temporary protection against refoulement to Iraq.

4 Exhibit 1, Package of information from the referring CBSA/ CIC, photocopies of passport, citizenship certificate and certificate from the High Commissioner for Refugees.

5 Exhibit 2, Basis of Claim Form (BOC) – TB6-07934.

6 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP, Item 2.1.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Canada (Attorney General) v. Ward [1993] 2 S.C.R. 689.

Categories
All Countries Egypt

2019 RLLR 203

Citation: 2019 RLLR 203
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 15, 2019
Panel: Kerry Cundal
Counsel for the Claimant(s): N/A
Country: Egypt
RPD Number: VB8-01027
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2020-00518
ATIP Pages: 002797-002801

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claim of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX a citizen of Egypt who is claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”).1 The claimant’s identity has been established by a copy of her passport.2

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The claimant fears return to Egypt because she fears religious persecution by Muslim extremists. The claimant is a Christian. The claimant received threats by Muslim extremists calling her “infidel” and “enemy of Allah” because she was hosting Bible studies in her home for women. The claimant also faced harassment because she refuses to wear a hijab, including being pushed to the ground. The claimant left Egypt on XXXX XXXX XXXX 2018 and arrived in Canada on the same day. Further details are highlighted in her Basis of Claim (BOC) forms.3 The claimant signed her BOC on XXXX XXXX XXXX 2018.4 The panel has reviewed and applied the Chairperson’s Guideline on Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution5 in this decision.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution and Risk of Harm

[3]       The claimant provided a detailed narrative and documents supporting her Christian religion.6 The objective evidence supports the claimant’s fear of religious persecution by Muslim extremists in Egypt. The evidence indicates that there has been an increase in sectarian violence against Christians.7 The evidence indicates that there have been violent attacks against Christians by Muslim extremists throughout Egypt including in Cairo and in Alexandria.8 The panel finds that the claimant has established a nexus to religion because of her Christian faith and that she would face more than a mere possibility of persecution if she returns to Egypt.

State Protection

[4]       The objective evidence indicates the following regarding state protection in Egypt:

The government inconsistently punished or prosecuted officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in government. In most cases the government did not comprehensively investigate human rights abuses, including most incidents of violence by security forces, contributing to an environment of impunity.9

[5]       A Human Rights Watch report dated March 13, 2017 indicates that Christians who have been targeted by Muslim extremists report that Egyptian security forces are “apathetic” in their response to assist Christians.10 Further reports indicate that:

The authorities continued to violate the right to freedom of religion by discriminating against Christians. In August, security forces prevented dozens of Coptic Christians from praying in a house in Alforn village in Minya governorate, citing reasons of security. There was continued impunity for sectarian attacks on Christian communities, and the authorities continued to rely on customary reconciliation and settlements agreed by local authorities and religious leaders. Amid this impunity, violence by non-state actors against Christians increased significantly.11

[6]       The general security context in Egypt is uncertain at this time:

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who first took power in a July 2013 coup, continues to govern Egypt in an authoritarian manner, though the election of a new parliament in late 2015 ended a period of rule by executive decree. Serious political opposition is virtually nonexistent, as both liberal and Islamist activists face criminal prosecution and imprisonment. Terrorism persists unabated in the Sinai Peninsula and has also struck the Egyptian mainland, despite the government’s use of aggressive and often abusive tactics to combat it.12

[7]       Further evidence provides a general overview of the fragility of the current regime and lack of operationally effective state protection in Egypt:

In the first several months of 2017, Egypt has witnessed a number of events that have challenged the country’s stability and security, economic development, and the rights and freedoms of its citizens. The Egyptian government has continued its repercussion of public space, even going so far as to physically close the offices of the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture in early February. The country is no more stable, with terror groups and the Egyptian state engaged in a war of propaganda narratives. The Islamic State’s affiliate in mainland Egypt has targeted churches on Palm Sunday and announced its ”emir” in Islamic State media. The Islamic State’s Wilayat Sinai also is increasingly targeting the Christian population as it continues to claim control over urban areas in North Sinai even as Egypt’s army and tribal militias commit violence against unarmed residents of Sinai. A year ahead of scheduled elections, human rights lawyer and rumored presidential candidate Khaled Ali has been detained by security forces and smeared in pro-regime media as fomenting dissent.13

[8]       Based on the totality of the evidence, the panel finds that there is no operationally effective state protection available to the claimant in Egypt at this time.

Internal Flight Alternative (IFA)

[9]       In Rasaratnam v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), the Court of Appeal held that, with respect to the burden of proof, once the issue of an internal flight alternative was raised, the onus is on the claimant to show that she does not have an IFA.14 The burden placed on a claimant is fairly high in order to show that the IFA is unreasonable. In the Federal Court of Appeal decision of Ranganathan v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) in 2001, it was stated that the test is to show that the IFA is unreasonable.15 That test requires nothing less than the existence of conditions that would jeopardize the life and safety of the claimants in relocating to a safe area. Actual and concrete evidence of adverse conditions is required. The panel must be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that (1) the claimant would not be subject personally to a danger of torture, or to a risk of life or a risk of cruel and unusual punishment or face a serious possibility of persecution in the proposed IFA and (2) that conditions in that part of the country are such that it would be objectively reasonable, in all the circumstances, including those particular to the claimant, for her to seek refuge there.

[10]     The objective evidence provides examples of targeting of Christians with impunity in Cairo and Alexandria. For example, in December 2016, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)­ affiliated suicide bomber killed 29 people in an attack against a Christian church, Saints Peter and Paul Church in Cairo.16 Reports of bombings at Christian churches also occurred in Alexandria in April 2017 during Palm Sunday at St. Mark’s Cathedral.17 The same report indicates that “Muslims opposed to church construction or renovation, even when legally authorized, continued to commit violence against churches and Christian-owned properties in various locales.”18 Given the general insecurity in Egypt and the successful violent attacks against Christians in Cairo and Alexandria by Muslim extremists, the panel finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to the claimant in her particular circumstances as she would not be free to worship or practice her Christian faith without fear of violent attacks perpetrated with impunity by Muslim extremists.

CONCLUSION

[11]     For the foregoing reasons, the panel determines that the claimant is a Convention refugee under section 96 of the Act. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada therefore accepts her claim.

(signed)           KERRY CUNDAL

January 15, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27.

2 Exhibit 1.

3 Exhibit 2.

4 Exhibit 2.

5 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) Chairperson’s Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution, Ottawa, Canada, March 1993, updated November 1996.

6 Exhibits 1 and 2.

7 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP), June 29, 2018, Item 1.7.

8 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 1.7.

9 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.1.

10 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.5.

11 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.2.

12 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.4.

13 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.5.

14 Rasaratnam v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1992] 1 F.C. 706 (C.A.).

15 Ranganathan v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2001] 2 F.C. 164 (C.A.).

16 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

17 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

18 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

Categories
All Countries Egypt

2019 RLLR 202

Citation: 2019 RLLR 202
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 27, 2019
Panel: J. Schmalzbauer
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ruth Williams
Country: Egypt
RPD Number: VB8-00857
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2020-00518
ATIP Pages: 002780-002786

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) in the claim of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (the “principal claimant”) and his spouse, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX (the “associate claimant”), as citizens of Egypt, who are claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”).1

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The following is a brief synopsis of the allegations that the claimants put forth in the Basis of Claim (BOC) forms.2 The claimants fear political persecution due to their religion, as Coptic Christians. The claimants submit that they have since 2011, enduring increasing harassment, discrimination and violence due to their religious identity. The claimants had lived in a city known for its Christian population.

[3]       The claimants were both professionals in XXXX. They had owned and operated a local XXXX. In precipitating their decision to leave Egypt and seek safety for their three children and themselves, the XXXX and the principal claimant was attacked by religious extremists. He was first threatened in the XXXX, then the XXXX was attacked and damaged, and a threatening letter was left, against his children being kidnapped.

[4]       They fled the local area and made their arrangements to leave Egypt and come to Canada and seek protection.

Determination

[5]       The panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees, as they do have a well- founded fear of persecution related to a Convention ground in Egypt.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[6]       The panel is satisfied on a balance of probabilities in the claimants’ identities as nationals of Egypt, considering the certified copies of their Egyptian passports.3

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[7]       The duty of this panel is to find if there is sufficient credible or trustworthy evidence to determine that there is more than a mere possibility that the claimants would be persecuted if they returned to Egypt. The claimants submit that they fear persecution due to their faith and identities, as Coptic Christians.

[8]       The claimants testified in a very detailed, genuine and credible manner throughout their testimony. Both were able to reasonably convey their personal and professional circumstance in Egypt. They supported their testimony and allegations by presenting their business documents. They also submitted letters and pictures of support in documenting the events that precipitated their claim in Canada.4 The testimony before this panel was detailed and genuine as to their circumstances in Egypt, including the numerous attacks and threats against them and their minor children. Although they had travelled to Canada previously, without making a claim; I am satisfied in their explanation that they had a professional and comfortable life and at the time of previous travels it was less of a risk to continue to live in Egypt, however, their change in circumstances and the threats against them have increased, resulting in them leaving their lives behind and seeking protection. I take no negative inference against not previously seeking protection when in Canada. Overall, I accept the claimant’s allegations as presented.

[9]       The objective evidence reports that approximately 90 percent of Egypt’s population is Sunni Muslim and approximately ten percent is recognized as Christian.5 Approximately ten percent of Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, while other Christian communities constitute less than two percent of the population.

[10]     Egypt’s constitution describes freedom of belief as absolute and it provides adherents of Islam, Christianity and Judaism the right to practice their religion freely.6 However, the country condition evidence reports that sectarian attacks against Christians continue, including church bombings committed by the Islamic State (IS), forced displacement, physical assaults, arson attacks and blocking of church construction.7 A Response to Information Request (RIR) before me lists numerous and serious attacks committed against Coptic Christians in 2016 and 2017.8 There is evidence that high level officials, such as the President, are making efforts to promote religious freedoms. For example, President Sisi has pledged to respect freedom of belief and has made visits to Coptic Christian masses.

[11]     Increased attacks by IS in February 2017 lead to the largest wave of collective displacement in Egypt since the June 1967 war. Furthermore, two bombings in April 2017 led to President Sisi declaring a three-month state of emergency in the country.9 Additionally, the United States (U.S.) Department of State Report (DOS) indicates that lethal sectarian violence continued over the year, and included mob violence and vigilantism, for example, in May 2017, there was a terrorist attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians.10 However, despite these efforts, there are still reports of secular violence.

[12]     For example, the 2017 U.S. DOS International Religious Freedom Report states that religious minorities continue to face significant threats of sectarian violence.11 The report outlines violence targeted toward Christians specifically because of their religion. Furthermore, authorities fail to protect minority victims and demand that charges be dropped in the spirit of reconciliation.12 Furthermore, there are numerous reports of Christian churches being targeted as well as the protest of building new churches. There have been cases of churches being burned down and vandalized, as well as Christian homes being similarly targeted.13

[13]     The same report states that:

ISIS claimed responsibility for multiple other attacks, including suicide bombings against two churches during Palm Sunday services, attacks against passengers on a bus carrying Christian pilgrims, and a spate of attacks on individual Christians in northern Sinai and elsewhere. An assailant killed a Coptic Orthodox priest in Cairo and injured another; a court sentenced the assailant to death for murder. According to press reports, three noncommissioned officers and a security guard allegedly tortured and killed a Christian police conscript. His family reported in a videotaped interview that he was “tortured and killed for his faith.” …

On April 9, twin suicide bombings at Coptic Orthodox churches killed 45 people during Palm Sunday services. One struck St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Alexandria, where Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II was leading the service. The attacker detonated a bomb at the gate of the church compound after being refused entry by security. The other attack occurred in the city of Tanta in the Nile delta, where a suicide bomber detonated himself among the front pews of the church. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks and warned Muslims to avoid Christian gatherings in Egypt. …

Terrorists affiliated with ISIS carried out a series of attacks against Christians in northern Sinai after having issued videos and other public statements calling on pious Muslims to kill them. On January 30, masked assailants shot Coptic Christian Wael Milad in his shop, according to press reports. Eyewitnesses told media outlets that on February 11 an attacker shot Christian veterinarian Bahgat William in the head, neck, and stomach as he was leaving his clinic. Attackers killed Adel Showky on the same day in al-Arish’s Samaran neighborhood, according to press reports. On February 16, two assailants on a motorbike gunned down Coptic Christian schoolteacher Gamal Tawfiq as he was walking through a crowded marketplace between his home and school, according to press reports. On February 22, the corpses of two local Christians, Saad Hanna and his son Medhat, were found on the roadside in al-Arish. Saad’s body showed gunshot wounds; Medhat’s showed signs of having been burned alive, according to press reports. Following these attacks and additional threats, hundreds of Christians fled Sinai during the first several months of the year for other parts of Egypt, according to press and church sources. According to an international NGO, several families told human rights activists they wanted to return to their homes, but were skeptical that this would be possible. Subsequently on May 6, gunmen shot and killed Nabeel Saber Ayoub, a Copt who had fled al-Arish with his family but returned briefly to complete school paperwork for his son and to check on his house and barber shop, according to press reports. Violent attacks against individual Christians were not limited to northern Sinai.14

[14]     The claimants’ situation, which I accept, is in line with the objective evidence, of targeting of violence, kidnapping and harassment, followed by reconciliation efforts rather than protective efforts by authorities.

[15]     I find that the claimants’ as Coptic Christians would more likely continue to be targeted for their religion and are subject to murders, kidnappings, physical assaults, bomb attacks, disappearances and forced displacement. As such, I find there is more than a mere possibility that claimants would be persecuted due to their religion if they return to Egypt.

State Protection

[16]     I do acknowledge the efforts of the state to recognize and promote religious tolerance in Egypt, as the 2017 U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom report indicates that since 2014, President Sisi has made significant strides to address religious freedom concerns. However, despite notable progress, the number of violent attacks targeting Christians increased. Furthermore, discriminatory laws and policies remain in place and continue to negatively impact Christians, including blasphemy laws and limits on conversion from Islam. Further the evidence before me is that the government frequently failed to prevent, investigate or prosecute crimes targeting members of religious minorities, which fosters a climate of impunity. As in the situation of the claimants, in reporting the issues to police, they were advised to reconcile or leave things, in order to keep the peace. I find that given the objective evidence of increasing violence directed towards Christians in Egypt, that is unabated despite the state’s efforts and given the claimants own experiences of violence without authorities being willing or able to protect or even assist them, I find that the claimants would not have access to adequate operationally effective state protection in returning to Egypt.

Internal Flight Alternative

[17]     The panel finds that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Egypt. Although, the country condition information before me indicates that larger urban centres are safer for religious minorities. The United Kingdom Home Office states that:

Cities, such as Cairo and Alexandria, have large, socio-economically and culturally diverse populations which co-exist, for the most part, peaceably. Many people move to different parts of Egypt for social and economic reasons.15

[18]     The claimants lived in what was once a religiously diverse city with a high Christian populace, the situation in Egypt, is that extremists, are targeting persons of the Christian faith, the claimants as having more than many, as owning a local pharmacy, would continue to come under attack as there is almost no evidence before me that even living in a urban center with a large Christian population, can protection one from the violence throughout Egypt. Therefore, I find that claimants would face similar persecution for their Christian faith, throughout Egypt.

CONCLUSION

[19]     For the foregoing reasons the panel finds that XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX are Convention refugees as set out in section 96. Therefore, their claims are accepted.

(signed)           J. SCHMALZBAUER

May 27, 2019

1 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27.

2 Exhibit 2.

3 Exhibit 1.

4 Exhibits 5 and 6.

5 Exhibit 3, National Documentation Package (NDP), Egypt, March 29, 2019, Item 12.1.

6 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

7 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.4.

8 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.8 Response to Information Request (RIR) EGY105805.E.

9 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.8 RIR EGY105805.E.

10 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 2.1.

11 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

12 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

13 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

14 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 12.1.

15 Exhibit 3, NDP, Item 1.5.

Categories
All Countries Egypt

2019 RLLR 199

Citation: 2019 RLLR 199
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 31, 2019
Panel: Ethan McMonagle
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Jonathan Richard J Lage
Country: Egypt
RPD Number: MB9-00453
Associated RPD Number(s): MB9-00461
ATIP Number: A-2020-00518
ATIP Pages: 002183-002186

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       These are the reasons for the decision in the claims of XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXandXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX who claim to be citizens of Egypt, and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       These claims have been decided without a hearing, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Chairperson’s Instructions Governing the Streaming of Less Complex Claims at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) and paragraph 170(f) of the Act.

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

ALLEGATIONS

[4]       You allege that you are sisters, who come from a devout Coptic Christian family of Egyptian nationality. You both spent most of your lives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia), but your status their was contingent upon your father, whose status itself was temporary. In Egypt, you fear persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists as a result of your religious identity as Coptic Christians. Fearing return to Egypt, you each filed claims for refugee protection.

DETERMINATION

[5]       I find that you are “Convention refugees” as you have established a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Egypt based on the grounds in section 96.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[6]       I find that your respective identities as nationals of Egypt are established by the documents provided: your passports1 and your birth certificates.2

[7]       You have also established your identity as Coptic Christians by providing your birth certificates, baptism certificates and a supporting letter from XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX of Egypt XXXX XXXX XXXX.3

Nexus

[8]       I find that you have each established a nexus to section 96 by reason of religion.

Credibility

[9]       Based on the documents in the file, I have noted no serious credibility issues. In particular, the evidence establishes the allegations as set out above, namely that you are each of the Coptic Christian faith. After reviewing the documents, I have no reasons to doubt their authenticity.

Objective basis of future risk

[10]     The fact that you face this risk is corroborated by the following documents contained in the National Documentation Package (NDP) for Egypt, March 29, 2019 version. Briefly, abuses of Coptic Christians were increasing even before the fall of the Mubarak regime. Christian properties, including homes, businesses, and churches, have been destroyed and Christians have been the primary targets of violent sectarian attacks. Christians have been arrested and detained; they have also faced harassment, rape, mental and physical abuse and pressure to convert to Islam; police officers have been involved in the persecution of Christians. The state has not adequately protected Christians, and has failed to prosecute perpetrators.4

State protection

[11]     I find that adequate state protection would not be reasonably forthcoming in this particular case. The objective evidence indicates that the Egyptian authorities not only fail to protect Coptic Christians, but they themselves engage in violence against them, and perpetrators of attacks against Christians commit abuses in a climate of impunity.5 I find that your evidence, when considered in conjunction with the objective evidence, is a clear and convincing rebuttal of the presumption of state protection.

Internal flight alternative

[11]     I have considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for you. On the evidence before me, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Egypt. The evidence does not suggest that the religiously-motivated violence is restricted to a particular area of Egypt, or that individuals in your situation could find safety elsewhere.6 As such, I find that there is no viable internal flight alternative in Egypt for you.

CONCLUSION

[12]     Having considered the evidence, I find there is a serious possibility that you would each be persecuted upon return to Egypt because of your Coptic Christian identities. I conclude that you are “Convention refugees”. Accordingly, I accept your claims.

(signed)           ETHAN MCMONAGLE

May 31, 2019

1 Document 1 – Package of information from the referring Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) / Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

2 Document 4 – Personal Documents

3 Ibid.

4 Document 3 – National Documentation Package, Egypt, (CND – Egypt) 29 March 2019, tab 12.8: Response to information request EGY105805.E., Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 20 June 2017; Tab 12.1: Egypt. International Religious Freedom Report for 2017, United States, Department of State, 28 May 2018.

5 Supra note 4, tab 12.8.

6 Supra note 4, tab 12.5: Egypt’s Christians Flee ISIS Violence: Displaced Call Security Officials’ Response ‘Apathetic‘, Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork, 13 March 2017.

Categories
All Countries Egypt

2019 RLLR 196

Citation: 2019 RLLR 196
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 17, 2019
Panel: François Ramsay
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Odette Desjardins
Country: Egypt
RPD Number: MB7-18982
Associated RPD Number(s): MB7-18985, MB7-19007, MB7-19008, MB7-19056, MB7-19057, MB7-19058
ATIP Number: A-2020-00518
ATIP Pages: 001728-001732

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       These are the reasons for the decision in the claims of the principal claimant, XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXhis wifeXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXandXXXXhis in-laws, XXXX XXXX XXXXand XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX who claim to be citizens of Egypt, and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       These claims have been decided without a hearing, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Chairperson’s Instructions Governing the Streaming of Less Complex Claims at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) and paragraph 170(f) of the Act.

[3]       I have appointed XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX as designated representative for his minor child XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX.

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

ALLEGATIONS

[5]       The claimants allege the following:

[6]       The claimants are Coptic Christians.

[7]       On XXXX XXXX 2017, XXXX XXXX the daughter of the principal claimant, was the victim of a kidnapping attempt at the hands of two men, one of whom she knew as a classmate. This individual, considered to be a Muslim extremist, had already harassed her in the past.

[8]       The same day, the principal claimant tried unsuccessfully to lodge a complaint with the police. When the police officer refused to record the complaint and the principal claimant insisted, the officer threatened to detain and accuse him and his daughter of being disrespectful to a police officer.

[9]       The following night, XXXX and the principal claimant started receiving a number of threatening phone calls from her aggressor.

[10]     Frightened, the principal claimant and his family decided to seek shelter in Alexandria.

[11]     On XXXX XXXX 2017, XXXX was informed by a friend that her aggressor was looking for her.

[12]     On XXXX XXXX 2017, the principal claimant was informed by his in-laws that his daughter’s aggressor had come after them. As a result, they joined the rest of the family in Alexandria.

[13]     On XXXX XXXX 2017, all the claimants left Egypt for Canada.

[14]     They that should they return to Egypt, they will fall victim to XXXX aggressor and his accomplice who will want to seek revenge over the family’s refusal to convert XXXX to Islam and marry her to her aggressor.

DETERMINATION

[15]     I find that the claimants are “Convention refugees” as they have established a serious possibility of persecution should they return to Egypt based on the grounds in section 96.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[16]     I find that the identity of the claimants as nationals of Egypt is established by the documents provided, namely their passport.

Nexus

[17]     I find that the claimants have established a nexus to section 96 by reason of their religion.

Credibility

[18]     Based on the documents in the file, I have noted no serious credibility issues.

[19]     The claimants submitted documentary evidence in support of their claims. With respect to the evidence submitted by the principal applicants, Exhibits P-6 to P-12 and P-28 corroborate the allegations of the claimants with respect to their religious faith. Exhibits P-21 and P-22 corroborate the allegations of the principal claimant with respect to his marital status and the composition of his family. Exhibits P-13 to P-19 and P-28 corroborate the allegations of the principal claimant and his wife regarding their educational and professional background.

[20]     With respect to the evidence submitted by the in-laws, Exhibit P-6 and P-9 corroborate their allegations with respect to their religious faith. Exhibits P-21 and P-22 corroborate their allegations with respect to their marital status and the composition of their family.

[21]     After reviewing the documents, I have no reasons to doubt neither their authenticity, nor the truthfulness of their content.

Objective Basis of Future risR

[22]     Despite some positive elements in the objective evidence, I find, based on the credibility of the allegations of the claimants, and the documentary evidence set out below, that as Christian Copts, they have established a future risk that they would be subjected to the following harm should they return to Egypt: societal and institutional intimidation and discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs, forced displacement and physical assault, as well as prosecution for blasphemy, proselytizing, and denigration of Islam.

[23]     The fact that the claimants face this risk is corroborated by the documents found at tabs 1.7, 2.1, 2.2, 12.1, 12.6, 12.8 of the National Documentation Package for Egypt – March 29, 2019 Version.

Nature of the Harm

[24]     This harm clearly amounts to persecution.

State Protection

[25]     I find that there is clear and convincing evidence before me that the state is unable or unwilling to provide the claimants with adequate protection.

Internal Flight Alternative

[26]     I have considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for the claimants. On the evidence before me, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Egypt. I come to that conclusion considering that, according to the above-cited documentary evidence, Coptic Christians are presently exposed to a constant risk of persecution wherever they may be located.

CONCLUSION

[27]     Based on the analysis above, I conclude that the claimants are “Convention refugees”. Accordingly, I accept their claims.

(signed)           François Ramsay 

September 17, 2019