Categories
All Countries Iran

2020 RLLR 145

Citation: 2020 RLLR 145
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 27, 2020
Panel: Isis Van Loon
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amir Derakhshanfar
Country: Iran
RPD Number: VC0-00019
Associated RPD Number(s): VC0-00031, VC0-00034, VC0-00035
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000178-000183

DECISION

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

[2]       These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of [XXX], the principle claimant, [XXX], the associate claimant, and their two adult female children, claimants [XXX] and [XXX] who are all claiming to be citizens of Iran and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to s. 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       These claims were joined according to rule 55 of the Refugee Protection Division Rules.

Allegations

[4]       The claimants’ allegations are set out in their basis of claim forms and in their testimonies. The following is a brief summary:

[5]       The principle claimant and both of her adult daughters are Christian converts, and they fear persecution due to their conversion from Islam. The associate claimant does not identify as Christian but believes that people should be able to choose their own religion freely. Furthermore, he acknowledges a belief in God, but is not a follower of Islam as it is required in Iran.

Determination

[6]       I find that the claimants are convention refugees as they have established a well-founded fear of persecution based on convention grounds. Namely religion in the case of the principal claimant and the two adult children claimants and political opinion in the case of the associate claimant.

Analysis

Identity

[7]       I find the claimants’ identities as nationals of Iran is established by their testimonies and the supporting documentation filed including certified true copies of their passports in Exhibit 1.

Credibility

[8]       When a claimant swears to the truth of certain allegations, this creates a presumption that those allegations are true unless there is a reason to doubt their truthfulness. However, this presumption does not apply to inferences or speculation for which there is no evidentiary basis.

[9]       The claimants testified in a straightforward and detailed manner and with no inconsistencies in their testimonies or contradictions between their testimonies and the other evidence before me that were not explained.

[10]     The female claimants all described in detail their beliefs and contrasted that with the religion into which they were born in Iran. The principle claimant said, “If we say that we are God’s children in any other religion, meaning our previous religions, if I were to say this, that I am a child of God, they would punish me.  They would never allow me to continue with my life.  Now, I am certain that God, the father, supports me.” Her daughters echoed the support that they feel from their new religion, particularly while their mother was facing a serious health challenge.

[11]     The associate claimant described how he found out about his family’s conversion, and he expressed his tolerance for other religious views. He credibly described how he wished he had known about this conversion sooner and clearly supported his family members’ rights to make their own decisions about religion. As for himself, he explained that he had not converted, although he had learned a fair bit about Christianity from his family, and he remains open-minded.

[12]     I have found all of their explanations and descriptions to be compelling and clear. Furthermore, they provided the following relevant probative documents: There is a letter on page 17 of Exhibit 4 from [XXX] (ph) from [XXX] in [XXX] in the Calgary Assembly of [XXX] and [XXX] Church. The principle claimant has been attending since [XXX] 2018. Her daughters joined afterwards.

[13]     The Pastor said that the principle claimant, “gave a beautiful testimony during a Sunday church service in regard to how she became a believer in Jesus Christ and accepted him as her personal saviour” and studied for baptism on [XXX] of 2019. Then she joined the Bible study group according to the Pastor. The Pastor said that the daughters were baptized on [XXX] of 2020 and that they too gave public testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ.

[14]     I find these documents are relevant and served to corroborate the core allegations of the three female claimants that they are Christian converts. The narrative and testimony of the claimants corresponds to the ample objective evidence about conditions in Iran pertaining to converts from Islam as well as those who oppose the government-imposed religion.

[15]     Apparently I have no reason to doubt the central elements underpinning the claim for protection nor the claimant’s stated subjective fear. I found all four claimants to be credible witnesses and therefore have accepted as true the facts that they have alleged in support of their claim.

Nexus

[16]     I find the persecution the principle claimant and her adult daughters face has a nexus to one of the five convention grounds, that of religion. And I find that the associate claimant has established a nexus to political opinion and therefore this claim will be assessed under s. 96.

[17]     I acknowledge that the principle claimant and the two adult children as women also have a nexus to membership in a particular social group as women in Iran and that the associate claimant could also be considered for membership in a particular social group as a family member of claimants facing persecution on a convention ground.

[18]     However, I have found the respective nexuses to religion and political opinion are sufficient for me to decide this claim for asylum, and therefore, I have analyzed the claims solely on these grounds.

Well-Founded Fear

[19]     In order to be considered a convention refugee, a claimant must describe that they have a well-founded fear of persecution which includes both a subjective and an objective basis.

[20]     Based on the claimant’s testimonies and supporting documents as well as the country condition documents, I find that all four claimants have a well-founded fear of persecution for the following reasons:

[21]     The principle claimant started attending church in Canada around [XXX] of 2018 with her Canadian relatives who were Christians, but she did not convert at the time.  She returned briefly to Iran in [XXX] of 2019 to have her visa extended and then came back to Canada to stay with her daughters. She became more involved with Christianity through her family members and by attending church and decided to convert. However, she feared telling her husband who was still in Iran, the associated claimant, over the phone as this was risky.

[22]     Her daughters, as well, became increasingly interested in Christianity after seeing the positive changes in their mother that her Christianity had brought to her. After the associate claimant came to Canada in [XXX] 2019 having been threatened, he was able to confirm his family’s conversion to Christianity, and all four of them claimed asylum while their visitors and student visas respectively were still valid. Their actions in addition to the amply country condition documents below have established their subjective fear of persecution in Iran.

[23]     The country documentation is consistent with the claimant’s testimonies and fearing persecution in Iran due to the conversion of three of the claimants to Christianity and due to the forth claimant’s opposition to this persecution and beliefs that religious freedom is important.

Religion

[24]     The law prohibits Muslim citizens from changing or renouncing their religious beliefs. Under Iranian law, a Muslim who leaves his or her faith or converts to another religion can be charged with apostasy, and this is a crime punishable by death.

[25]     Amnesty International stated in June 2019, “Freedom of religion and belief continues to be systematically violated.  The authorities impose on people of all faith as well as atheists codes of conduct rooted in a strict interpretation of Shia Islam. The right to change or renounce religious beliefs continues to be violated with those converting from Islam being at risk of arbitrary detention, torture, and even the death penalty.”

[26]     The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade assesses that those accused of religiously based charges are also likely to face charges related to national security, and they are unlikely to have adequate legal defence and are likely to be convicted.

[27]     While Shia jurors generally hold only that male apostates are to be killed, females on the other hand may only be imprisoned. The US Department of State says that prison conditions were harsh and life-threatening due to food shortages, gross over-crowding, physical abuse, and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care.

[28]     I am satisfied that regardless of whether a convert faces the death penalty or prison, the conditions and treatment are such that both amount to persecution. Based on all the evidence before me, I find the principle claimant and her two adult daughter claimants would face a serious possibility of persecution from the state due to the conversion from Islam to Christianity if they were to return to Iran.

Political Opinion

[29]     The associate claimant is in fact opposing the government’s religious requirements in his support for his family members who have converted to Christianity. He described being threatened and questioned about his family members’ religion in the months before he came to Canada. At that time, he was not even aware that they had converted as they had feared telling him over the phone that the authorities would discover this.

[30]     The associate claimant disagrees with the state position on religious freedom in Iran. He said that, “The Iranian regime needs to change based on the views in the constitution they” unlike himself, “do not accept any other religion or belief.” He said, “There needs to be an environment that allows people to choose their religion freely, to have their own beliefs, and be respected for it.”

[31]     The Islamic Republic of Iran is an authoritarian theocratic republic and imposes severe restrictions on many freedoms including religious freedom. The government’s human rights record remained extremely poor and worsened, and there were numerous reports of arbitrary killings and forced disappearances as well as torture by government agents, corruptions widespread at all levels of the government, and impunity is pervasive through all levels of government and security forces according to NDP 2.1 and 1.7.

[32]     I have noted that the associate claimant has expressed an opinion and is against the government of Iran by his support for religious freedom. Based on all the evidence before me, I find that he, too, would face a serious possibility of persecution based on this political opinion if he were to return to Iran.

[34]     I also note that he has vowed to stay with his family and were he to do so and they are still Christian converts, he would suffer persecution as well for that reason.

State Protection and Internal Flight Alternative

[35]     In this case, the agent of persecution is the state. The persecution the claimants would face if returned to Iran is at the hands of the authorities, and accordingly, I find there is no state protection available to the claimants, and the presumption of state protection is rebutted.

[36]     The state of Iran is in control of all of its territories, and therefore, again on the evidence before me, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Iran. There is no viable internal flight alternative for these claimants in their particular circumstances.

Conclusion

[37]     Based on the totality of the evidence, I conclude that the claimants are convention refugees, and accordingly, I am accepting all of their claims.

[38]     Okay, so that is the end of my decision. Interpreter, if you would like to go ahead and give a summary. That would be very welcome.

[39]     INTERPRETER: Sure thing.

———————REASONS CONCLUDED———————

Categories
All Countries Iran

2020 RLLR 137

Citation: 2020 RLLR 137
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 8, 2020
Panel: Michael Somers
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Zohra Safi
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TB9-28317
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000134-000137

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: The Panel has considered the claimant’s testimony and other evidence in this case and is ready to render its decision orally.

[2]       The claimant is a citizen of Iran. He has made a refugee protection claim under Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Allegations

[3]       The specifics of the claim are stated in the claimant’s narrative and amended narrative, of course, the narrative is found in his Basis of Claim form (BOC). He alleges the following:

[4]       He is a citizen of Iran. He has recently been divorced. He is a well-educated individual. He has an [XXX] in [XXX] as well as a [XXX] an [XXX] in [XXX]. He has worked in Iran as a [XXX] for at least, maybe, eight years. However, I don’t think he would disagree by saying that he is more of a [XXX] than anything else.

[5]       He fears to return to Iran. He fears the Iranian government; that he has been targeted, persecuted, by the Iranian authorities due to his affiliation to [XXX] and, also due to his religious affiliation, that he is Dervish Sufi.

[6]       He is, what I would describe as, an accomplished [XXX] who has gone through, what I would say, a formal background, a formal teaching, in [XXX]. He didn’t go to university for that. He has won, what sounds like, local and regional, maybe even national, [XXX]. He has entertained abroad. His group – he has produced at least [XXX].

[7]       In about 2010 he, how he would describe it, officially became Dervish. Although, he was interested in learning and participating in the Dervish community years before that. And, in his particular fact situation, that he has been incarcerated, charged with what I would call fabricated allegations and was sentenced to at least one year in jail. Once released from jail he realized, or even probably before that, that the Iranian authorities would continue to harass, target him, based on his religious affiliation and, also his political affiliation.

[8]       He left Iran on or about [XXX] 2019, and made a claim for refugee protection on or about [XXX] 2019. He left his former wife in Iran with the intention of his former wife coming to Canada and reuniting with him. However, due to pressure from his in-laws, pressure on his wife, and just not the pressure on his wife but the wife, his former wife, herself, due to his activities, due to his religion, due to incarceration, there was a divorce recently.

Determination

[9]       The Board finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The reasons are as follows.

ANALYSIS

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

Identity and Credibility

[11]     The Board was satisfied with the claimant’s personal identity based on his testimony and a certified copy of his passport and other secondary identification documents that were filed on his behalf.

[12]     The Board found the claimant to be a credible and reliable witness. There was no significant differences between his testimony and his narrative and the numerous personal documents filed on his behalf.

[13]     One could describe this claim as a claim that has two premises or two, basically, fears/reasons why he is leaving Iran and coming to Canada to seek international asylum, refugee protection. One, being a [XXX] which that his [XXX] doesn’t fit within the context of Iranian society and the rigid perception and attitude of the Iranian authorities towards [XXX] and, well, [XXX]. Second, is that he is Dervish, he’s Sufi. In fact, in his testimony, which again the Board found credible, he sort of put the two together as well, that they mesh, that being Sufi, being Dervish, and the meditation process, the calmness, the peacefulness, erased blocks and made him a better [XXX]. And he indicated that his [XXX] was not for the regime, it was not for anyone but himself and his spiritual beliefs and his worship to humanity and that includes God. And because of these two purposes, these two reasons, he is being pursued, harassed, by the authorities.

[14]     The Board found that he is indeed a [XXX], this is based on his testimony, on the numerous documents, on his activities in Canada, on the documents on the websites that show him as a [XXX]. He is a [XXX], that’s a fact. Regarding his religion, is he Sufi? Is he Dervish? The answer is yes. On the evidentiary standard that this Board has to use, on a balance of probability, he is. I found his testimony when he was talking about, very briefly about, the Dervish principles, the religion, the environment, the culture, I found it to be, for him to be, articulate and not vague in his testimony and there was a truthfulness in his testimony, in his convictions, when he was talking which was certainly, was not made up. So, on a balance of probability, he is Dervish.

[15]     One then looks at the country condition articles and reports that have been filed, both by counsel and the Refugee Protection Division. Well, and one should note particularly for the Refugee Protection Division’s articles, many of those articles are from well respected international human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and then there’s reports from agencies, state departments, from well-respected Western democracies such as this very country, Canada, Finland, United Kingdom, United States and they all state the same. And what is that? That there is – that the Dervish community, in fact, one should say all minority religious communities in Iran, are persecuted, are targeted, are looked in a very restrictive way.

[16]     Also, these articles and reports state, again clearly, that musicians are targeted. That, for some reason, the Iranian authorities see musicians as dangerous. Particularly, that they are perceived, that their music touches upon politics, more so freedom of association, freedom of expression; many things that this regime sees as threatening to them. So, the country condition articles, this Board finds that the country condition articles, his testimony, the personal documents filed, finds that if the claimant did return that he would have a well-­founded fear of persecution.

[17]     I don’t think there’s any need to get into the specifics of the persecutions or the lack of state protection in Iran that is directed towards religious minorities and, in particular, the Dervish community. It’s in many articles. Same with discrimination, harassment that amounts to persecution directed towards musicians. Simply put, what the claimant was testifying to, what his allegations and his claims were stating, is supported by what’s in the country condition articles and reports. The, at best, could be described as a Kangaroo Court that the claimant stood in for a short period of time; it must have been horrific. But again, the country condition articles and reports state exactly that, that that happens. And again, I found the testimony of this particular claimant to be credible.

[18]     So, there’s a – the claimant has met the presumption that there is no adequate state protection within Iran with clear and convincing evidence, particularly given that the agent of persecution is the state.

[19]     Regarding the issue of internal flight alternatives, well there is none. Why? Because, again, the state is the agent of persecution.

CONCLUSION

[20]     Based on this brief analysis, the Board finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee and accepts his claim. This hearing is over.

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2020 RLLR 136

Citation: 2020 RLLR 136
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 11, 2020
Panel: O. Adeoye
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Miranda Lim
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TB9-13712
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000128-000133

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER:    I have considered your oral testimony and documentary evidence before me today and I am prepared to render my decision orally.

[2]       So the claimant, [XXX], claims to be a citizen of Pakistan and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

DETERMINATION:

[3]       I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee on the Convention ground of his religion as per Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

ALLEGATIONS:

[4]       The claimant’s allegations are set out in full in his narrative and Basis of Claim Form which is attached to his Basis of Claim Form. So, I would not repeat them all here, but in brief the claimant alleges that he is a devout Ahmadi from Pakistan and that Mullahs and extremists from nearby towns and villages harassed his family and members of the Ahmadi community in general.

[5]       The claimant alleged that anti-Ahmadist laws were used at him and his family members and this increased in frequency.

[6]       He further alleges that he was physically assaulted, his firm was burned down and vandalised and that they were threats of extremist attacks again Ahmadi mosque, businesses, and other institutions in the city.

[7]       The claimant alleges that himself and his family members have faced lifelong discrimination and harassment in Pakistan because of their Ahmadi religion and that due to this persecution, his children all five of them don’t live in Pakistan anymore, they currently live in Canada and Germany.

[8]       The claimant left Pakistan on [XXX] 2019, and made a claim for refugee protection and made the claim for refugee protection in [XXX] 2019.

[9]       The claimant fears harm at the hands of the extremists and also the inability to practice his religion openly and freely without fear in Pakistan.

ANALYSIS:

PERSONAL IDENTITY:

[10]     I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has established his personal identity as a citizen of Pakistan based on a certified true copy of his Pakistani passport attached to Exhibit 1. I further find that the claimant is an Ahmadi based on the documentary evidence he submitted into evidence.

CREDIBILITY:

[11]     Overall, despite the claimant’s age, I found the claimant to be very credible witness on a balance of probabilities on what is core to his claim and also I found the claimant to be able to recall specific incidents that occurred over the years, this also includes incidents that relates to his persecution due to his religion as an Ahmadi from Pakistan.

[12]     I therefore believe what the claimant has alleged in support of his claim.

[13]     The claimant testified in a straightforward manner, there were no relevant inconsistencies in his testimonies or contradictions between this testimony and the other evidence before me that they were not satisfactorily explained.

[14]     The claimant provided sincere and heartfelt oral testimony about his beliefs and the persecution he faced in Pakistan. The claimant’s evidence is not internally inconsistent or implausible or contradicted by documentary evidence or country conditions in Pakistan.

[15]     In coming to my credibility findings, I also considered the numerous specific documents turn out into evidence by the claimant in support of his allegations.

[16]     The panel also does not have sufficient reasons to discount these documents which includes the claimant’s Ahmadi certificate, Ahmadi identity cards from Pakistan and Canada, Ahmadi donation receipts from Pakistan and Canada, Ahmadi executive appointment letter, Ahmadi [XXX] documents, various letters from the Ahmadi [XXX] contained in an old journal, photos with the Ahmadi [XXX], land ownership documents, claimant’s other identity documents.

[17]     Based on all the evidence before me which includes the testimony of the claimant which I found to be credible, I find on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has established his religious profile as an Ahmadi from Pakistan.

REAVAILMENT:

[18]     I had concerns about the claimant’s reavailment to Pakistan in 2008 and the panel therefore accepts the claimant’s explanation in regard to his re-availment and however finds that the claimant’s reavailment is not determinative of his claim.

[19]     I therefore find on a balance of probabilities that the claimant is credible, accept his allegations as credible and that the claimant has established his subjective fear.

WELL-FOUNDED FEAR, STATE PROTECTION AND INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE:

[20]     As it relates to the well-foundedness of the claimant’s fear of persecution, I find that claimant’s subjective fear has an objective basis based on the objective documentary evidence before me on which I would go over.

[21]     In this case, the claimant alleges that he suffered discrimination in daily life in Pakistan and that should he return to Pakistan he would continue to face the societal discrimination and be unable to openly and freely practice his faith without fear and will continue to be target for violence by extremist and Mullahs.

[22]     I find that these allegations are indeed supported by the mutual documentary evidence contained in the National Documentation Package.

[23]     According to the National Documentation Package, Ahmadis in Pakistan are discriminated against in law, also Pakistan laws prohibit Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims.

[24]     Their freedom of religion has been curtailed by series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments.

[25]     Also when applying for passport Pakistanis are required to declare that the Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is an imposter prophet and therefore the followers are non-Muslims.

[26]     Ahmadis are also discriminated against by Pakistan society in general and sometimes are also targets for violence by extremists which include being accused of blasphemy.

[27]     According to Item 2.1 of the National Documentation Package, the executive summary sets out the current political and general human rights issues in Pakistan.

[28]     This report confronts that discrimination against religious minorities continued in 2008 in Pakistan and violence and social religious intolerance by militant organization and other non­governmental actors contributed to culture of lawlessness in some parts of the country.

[29]     Also, according to 2013 report, AHLC report attached to the National Documentation Package, the Pakistani government proactively victimizes Ahmadis socially, economically, and educationally.

[30]     According to 2015 report by FIDH, discrimination against Ahmadis is enforced through public policies limiting their access to education, professional opportunities and basic political and civil rights, such as pledging, which means if an Ahmadi applicant wishes to identify, that means an Ahamdi, okay, so I leave that.

VIOLENCE:

[31]     According to the HRCP that’s the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, seven Ahmadis were killed in 2013 and 16 were assaulted, some were nearly fatal injuries on account of their faith also Al­-Jazeera reports that from January to August 2014, 13 Ahmadis were killed and 12 assaulted for practicing their faith in most were the result of targeted attacks on the individuals.

[32]     These documents clearly demonstrate that Ahmadis are discriminated against in law by society at large in Pakistan and as well are sometimes the targets for violence, abuse by Islamic extremists.

[33]     The document also suggests a recent trend of increasing violence against Ahmadis in Pakistan.

[34]     The aforementioned neutral sources support the claimant’s allegations that the claimant had a serious possibility of suffering serious harm if he were to return to Pakistan.

STATE PROTECTION:

[35]     I find that the claimant has established on a balance of probabilities that adequate State protection is not available to him. In this case above, the State is one of the agents of persecution.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE:

[36]     I find that there is no viable internal flight alternative for the claimant in Pakistan as the State is one of agents of harm.

CONCLUSION:

[37]     Therefore I determine that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on the basis of his religion and I therefore accept his claim and I therefore find that the claimant is a Convention refugee.

[38]     This will conclude the hearing for today.

[39]     Madam Interpreter, so I said this will conclude the hearing for today, is there anything you need to summarize to him before I formally end the hearing?

[40]     INTERPRETER:      Yes, Member, I will summarise everything else and I will give him all the details of what you just said.

[41]     MEMBER:    Okay, can you go ahead.

[42]     CLAIMANT: Okay.

[43]     MEMBER:    Okay good, so I need to confirm your address, so I have [XXX] okay is that correct?

[44]     CLAIMANT: Yes, it is correct.

[45]     MEMBER:    [XXX], okay you will get a copy of the transcribed decision, so this will finally conclude the hearing, I am going to go off the record in the absence of any questions, concerns, okay, thank you everyone. Thank you Madam Interpreter.

[46]     INTERPRETER:      Thank you Member, thank you very much.

[47]     MEMBER:    Thank you so much, I will be going off the record.

[48]     INTERPRETER:      Thank you very much everyone.

[49]     MEMBER:    Thank you, bye, bye.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries China

2020 RLLR 133

Citation: 2020 RLLR 133
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 10, 2020
Panel: Dawn Kershaw
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Deryck Ramcharitar
Country: China
RPD Number: TB9-11038
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000107-000109

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: So, this is a decision for [XXX] in file number TB9-11038. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence and will render my decision now orally. I find that you are a Convention refugee as you have established a serious possibility of persecution in China based on your religion. Namely, being a member of the Church of Almighty God.

[2]       Your allegations were documented in the Basis of Claim form. In summary, you are a citizen of China who fears persecution in China because you practice your religion as a member of the Church of Almighty God. You alleged that if you return to China, you will be targeted by the Chinese government for your involvement in the Church of Almighty God and will be arrested. You alleged that there is no state protection or an internal flight alternative for you.

[3]       Your personal identity has been established by your testimony and supporting documents filed in the exhibits. Specifically, a certified copy of your passport at Exhibit 1 in addition to your original resident identification card, a copy of which is at Exhibit 5. I find that on a balance of probabilities your identity and country of reference have been established. I find that there is a link between what you fear and one of the five Convention grounds, namely religion by virtue of the fact that you are a practicing Christian who practices in the Church of Almighty God. As such, I have assessed your claim under Section 96.

[4]       I have found you to be a credible witness and I therefore believe what you alleged in your oral testimony and in the Basis of Claim form. Your claim is supported by documents including a letter from the church leader of your current church in Toronto. As well as a letter of support from four fellow church members. You also provided photos of you with your fellow church members and participation in a human rights demonstration at Old City Hall at which you were demonstrating for China to return freedom of speech and religion to the Chinese people.

[5]       Your claim was also well supported by your knowledge of the tenets of the Church of Almighty God. You were able to speak knowledgeably and spontaneously about the faith. Including about the several different books of faith you read, the preaching you do in public by talking to others about God’s word. As well as where and how often you meet to discuss your faith and share your experiences.

[6]       In addition, you spoke about accessing the Church’s websites and YouTube to watch different types of singing and skits about the Church of Almighty God which you would not be able to do in China. You also had a support witness, [XXX] (ph) who said she met you when you first came to Canada. She came to Canada in 2016 and has been a member of the Church of Almighty God in Canada since that time. She was granted refugee status in Canada having also claimed on the basis of her religion. She meets together with you and others twice a week to discuss the faith and share your experiences. You also preach in public together by getting friendly with people who will talk to you and then broaching the subject of God.

[7]       The Panel finds on a balance of probabilities that you were and are a practicing Christian. Practicing in the Church of Almighty God who holds views that have been outlawed in China.

[8]       On an objective basis, it is known from page 5 of Section 12.1 of the National Documentation Package for China, the NDP. Namely, the 2018 U.S. State Department report that the Chinese government considers the Church of Almighty God to be an evil cult. In addition, counsel filed additional country documentation. Namely an excerpt from Bitter Winter. It states that in October 2018, in Anhui province where the claimant lived, the provincial authorities launched an arrest operation of believers that belonged to the Church of Almighty God in multiple cities. Calculations put the number of members arrested in a two-week span at more than 100. And more than 500 left their homes and went into hiding.

[9]       Finally, in Section 12.3 of the NDP it was reported at page 24 of the 2018 Annual Report on Chinese Government Persecution of Churches and Christians in Mainland China that a meeting was held in Jiangsu province to promote the sinicization of Christianity. Making it clear that that means changing Christianity in China to Chinese Christianity. Amnesty International also reported at Section 2.2, page 4 of the NDP that in June, the State Council passed the revised regulations on religious affairs to come into effect on the 1st of February 2018. It codified far-reaching State control over every aspect of religious practice. And extended power to authorities at all levels of the government to monitor, control and potentially punish religious practice.

[10]     I find that you would not be able to practice Christianity in the Church of Almighty God freely in China without fear of repercussions. As such, I find that you have established an objective basis for your fear of persecution on a balance of probabilities.

[11]     In summary, I find that you have a well-founded fear of persecution. I find that China is enforcing the law against unauthorized religious practice. And does not sanction churches that are not registered which includes the Church of Almighty God.

[12]     As such, I find that there is no state protection available to you. I have also considered if there’s an internal flight alternative for you. I find that there is no internal flight alternative. Again, because the Chinese government is the agent of persecution and exists in all parts of the country. Therefore, it is not safe anywhere for you.

[13]     Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that you are a Convention refugee because of a serious possibility of persecution. And I accept your claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Egypt

2020 RLLR 115

Citation: 2020 RLLR 115
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 1, 2020
Panel: Heidi Worsfold
Counsel for the Claimant(s): N/A
Country: Egypt
RPD Number: VB8-07448
Associated RPD Number(s): VB8-07460
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000203-000207

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division in the claim of [XXX] and [XXX] as citizens of Egypt pursuant to Sections 96 and 97.(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       The specifics of your case are stated in your Basis of Claim form.  In short you state that you left Egypt because you fear persecution because of you religion, that being a Coptic Christian.  You feel there is nowhere you could live safely in Egypt. In doing this decision, I reviewed the Chairperson’s Guidelines for victims of gender-based persecution given that there is a gender component of religious persecution that you fear in Egypt.  You provided a detailed narrative in your Basis of Claim.  In short, you come from Christian parents and have been practicing as a Coptic Christian your whole life in Minya and then in Cairo.

[3]       Once you left primary school and moved into secondary education that was government run, you felt for the first time the religious discrimination as a religious minority.  Through the period of 2007-2009, you witnessed and increase in anti-Christian violence perpetrated by Muslim extremists.  This environment existed and would flare up at points so that sometimes you had to stay home from work at the [XXX] in Cairo because it was too dangerous for you to be out alone as a Christian woman.

[4]       You were having difficulties in your marriage as your husband was having relationships outside of the marriage so you decided that a period of separation would be best. You had planned to visit your sister in Canada and applied for a travel visa for you and your son. However, while you were at your father’s [XXX] (sic), 2018, you were approached by a man named [XXX] (sic), who knew of your circumstances and said he was interested in marrying you ad converting you to Islam.

[5]       On the evening of [XXX] 2018, as you and your son were returning from a weekly church service meeting, you were stopped by this [XXX] and another person while you were parking your car. He tried to drag you out of your car and the other man attacked the windshield with a large stick.  You tried to drive away to escape and you hit the other car.  In the process of this incident you were assaulted with a sharp object.

[6]       You were able to get away and called your father who took pictures of the car for insurance and also went to the police to report the incident.  When he arrived at the police station he found that the [XXX] was there with his followers claiming that you had hit them and that you were the criminal.  The police offered a solution of reconciliation in order to give some ⁠– and your father accepted this in order to give him some time to try to protect you.

[7]       When he came back home he decided that you should go to another house belonging to the church that was not known to the [XXX] and his followers. Subsequently you were threatened over the phone with the final offer of agreeing to marry the [XXX] and convert to Islam with your son or you would both be slain in the street.  You fear there is nowhere safe for you or your son to live as a single Christian woman anywhere in Egypt.

[8]       I find that you are Convention refugees according to Section 96 of the Act for the following reasons.

[9]       With respect to the issue of your personal identities as nationals of Egypt, it’s been established by your Egyptian it’s been established by your Egyptian passports and Canadian visas, copies which (sic) were submitted to the Board.  You testified in a straightforward and consistent manner today and I find that you were a credible witness.  You did not embellish your claim and there were no material inconsistencies or contradictions within your evidence and there ⁠– that were not reasonably explained or that undermined your credibility in respect to the central allegations.

[10]     You testified about the ongoing discrimination that you and other Christians face everyday living in Egypt and how this discrimination has intensified over the years and become persecutory especially since the revolution in 2011 where more Islamic extremists act with greater impunity.

[11]     You stated that as a Christian woman you were a much easier target and further, that Islamic fundamentalist like the [XXX] look to target Christian especially since conversions to Islam was seen as a victory or triumph.  You also provided significant corroborative documents with respect to your religion and the persecution you suffered from the [XXX].  You’ve provided photos of the damage clone to your car, a medical report outlining the injuries you suffered from that attack, a statement from your ex­-mother-in-law regarding the attack you suffered and threats form the [XXX] and he’s well known to be a dangerous and extremist Islamic individual in Minya.

[12]     As well, she submitted some information around the suspicious circumstances of her son’s death and you have attacked the death certificate, all at Exhibit 5.  Also you have attacked your baptism certificates indicating your Christian faith and this can also be found at Exhibit 5.  So based on the totality of evidence before me, I find that you’ve established a nexus to a Convention ground namely religion.  Further, based on the totality of the objective evidence, which I’ll highlight in a moment, I find that you have established that you would face a serious possibility of persecution on the basis of religion in Egypt as a Coptic Christian.

[13]     I find that the objective evidence provides a basis for your well-founded fear of persecution in Egypt on the basis of your religious beliefs and practice as a Coptic Christian and accordingly I find you’ve established your claim.  The NDP, or National Documentation Package, establishes that Egypt is presently an unsafe place to openly express a Christian identity.

[14]     According to Freedom house Report in the National Documentation Package, Egypt is a country where religious minorities and atheists face religious persecution and violence with Coptic’s in particular suffering numerous cases of forced displacement, physical assaults, bomb and arson attacks, and blocking of church construction in recent years.

[15]     According to the US Department of State in 2019, Coptic Christians suffered sectarian violence.  There were incidents of mob violence and vigilantism. World Watch Monitor, a website that reports the story of Christians around the world under pressure for their faith reports that on June 17th, 2016, more than 5,000 people mobbed homes of cops in their settlement near Alexandria and looted ten homes after reports that a Coptic man was turning his home into a church.  According to one newspaper source, since the 19702 Islamists and Egypt have used attacks on Christians as a tactic in their struggle against the state, further stating that in each period of violence with the state, Coptic’s serve as a target to Islamists who then home to revoke a disproportionate state repression and rally the large Muslim population to their cause.

[16]     It is reported that terrorists groups target churches in order to break whatever national unity may exist between the Muslims and Coptic’s of Egypt.  According to material collated in 2018 by the Board’s own research unit, President Al Sese (ph) is keen on improving the situation for Coptic Christians and the country recently saw its appointment of its first female Coptic governor.

[17]     However, the Board’s report also notes that numerous churches have been closed due to risk of attack, World Church construction is prevented, churches are picketed by slogan-chanting protestors, and attacked by brick-throwing mobs.  Muslim men have kidnapped minor Christian girls with impunity and criminal investigations against extremists have been thwarted by weak measures and implementation.

[18]     Ultimately I conclude that your fear of persecution in Egypt on account of your religious identity is objectively well-founded and that you face a serious possibility of persecution.  There is a presumption that a state, if it’s in control of its territory, will make serious efforts to protect its citizens.  Failure to seek protection from authorities can be fatal to a claim unless it can be established that the protection would not be forthcoming.  It is up to claimants to rebut the presumption of state protection with clear and convincing evidence that the state cannot or will not protect them.

[19]     While the evidence does not establish that the entire Egyptian population is hostile to Christians and while there are some examples of the state attempting to curb Islamists zealotry, these are few and far between.  For example, sources report that the government continues to use customary reconciliation when violent incidents occur in place of criminal investigations and prosecutions.  Amnesty International states that regarding the use of “customary reconciliation” impunity has contributed to a significant increase in violent acts against Christians.

[20]     According to Human Rights Group, reconciliation sessions put Christians at a disadvantage and result in some cases in Christian families being forced to leave their villages and sell their property.

[21]     In your particular circumstances, and individual, the [XXX], singled you out as a target of his interest in marrying you and converting you to Islam and appears to have had some support of the local authorities and been able to act with impunity.  In fact, your father was asked to use this customary reconciliation in place of putting a complaint forward.

[22]     Therefore I conclude that the Egyptian government has shown little ability to restrain the attacks and intimidation efforts of anti-Christian extremists.  Ultimately the presumption of state protection is rebutted because the objective evidence cited above confirms that the state is unwilling or unable to adequately protect you.

[23]     For an Internal Flight Alternative to be viable with respect to a Section 96 claim, there must be no serious possibility of the claimants being persecuted in the suggested IFA.  Further, conditions in the suggested IFA must be such that it would not be unreasonable in all the circumstances including those particular to the claimants in question, for he claimants to seek refuge there.  I’ve considered whether an IFA exists in Egypt for you, however, the situation for Christians is largely uniform throughout the whole of Egypt and as such I find there is no place within the country where you could go where you would not face a serious possibility of persecution.

[24]     Accordingly, there is no IFA available.

[25]     So for the forgoing reasons, I determine that you are Convention refugees under Section 96 of the Act and I therefore accept your claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Iran

2020 RLLR 109

Citation: 2020 RLLR 109
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 15, 2020
Panel: Daniel Mckeown
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Nasser Hashemi
Country: Iran
RPD Number: TB9-20704
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-20750
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000173-000175

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: I’ve considered the testimony and other evidence in this claim and I am now prepared to render a decision. The claimants are [XXX] and [XXX], they seek refugee protection against Iran pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. For the following reasons the Panel finds that the claimants are Convention refugees and this claim is accepted.

[2]       For ease of reference, where this decision makes reference to the claimant, that means the male claimant although these reasons apply equally to both claimants.

[3]       This claim was based on the following allegations. The claimant became interested in Christianity when he visited an uncle in Romania. The claimant and his wife came to Canada in [XXX] 2018 for the claimant’s education. In [XXX] 2019 the claimant’s wife returned to Iran with their new born son. When she returned she encountered problems with authorities at the Iranian airport because her son was wearing a Christian cross. The son’s Canadian passport was confiscated and the claimant’s wife struggled for 4 months to have it returned. The claimant’s wife returned to Canada on [XXX] 2019. They immediately made their refugee claims, signing their Basis of Claims on [XXX] 2019.

[4]       The identities of the claimants were established on the basis of their Iranian passports. The originals of which were ceased by the Minister.

[5]       The Panel had two concerns about the credibility of this claim. First was that the claimant delayed seeking protection in Canada until [XXX] 2019, despite being here in Canada as a Christian convert since [XXX] 2018. Second the Panel was also concerned that the claimant’s wife returned to Iran with a Christian cross on her son, knowing that it could have caused problems. Regarding the delay to seek protection, the claimant explained that his wife was pregnant at the time they arrived and turning his mind to making a refugee claim was difficult with his wife’s pregnancy. Regarding the return to Iran, the claimants explained how the cross was covered under their son’s clothing and they simply did not think this would cause problems for them.

[6]       While the Panel does have concerns, the Panel finds these explanations do somewhat mitigate the Panel’s concerns. The Panel does not find that these concerns ultimately undermine the credibility of this claim in its entirety or the presumption that the claimants have been truthful. In all of the respects the Panel did find that this claim is credible. The claimant spoke about his religious conversion to Christianity, he spoke about why he became interested in it, about why he continued to develop his faith and about how the faith has impacted his life. He spoke about the church he attended here in Canada, and the steps he has been taking to become baptized. The Panel found this evidence and testimony was compelling.

[7]       Other than noted above, there were no inconsistencies in the evidence. The claimant was straight-forward, spontaneous, and elaborated with significant detail upon the allegations. Where the Panel did have concerns, they were either reasonably explained, or otherwise did not outweigh the evidence supporting this claim. The Panel has access to the National Documentation Package for Iran, incredible sources such as the US DOS report and UK Home Office reports for example. These sources make clear that apostacy in Iran is illegal and punishable by death even though the female claimant herself may not be Christian, these are the country conditions evidence. The Panel was also satisfied that the female claimant herself would potentially face significant risk given her husband’s conversion, and given the difficulties she has already encountered in Iran.

[8]       Given that the Panel finds the claimant’s conversion is genuine, the claimants fit the profile of persons at high risk of persecution.

[9]       Whereas the State is the agent of persecution, the claimants have rebutted the presumption that state protection would not be adequate and forthcoming. Excuse me. The claimants have rebutted the presumption that state protection would be adequate and forthcoming. Likewise, there is no location in Iran the claimants could go where they would not face a serious possibility of persecution.

[10]     For all these reasons, the Panel finds that this claim is credible. The claimants fear is well-founded. The claimants face a serious possibility of persecution in Iran on a count of religion. The claimants are Convention refugees and this claim is accepted.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries China

2020 RLLR 106

Citation: 2020 RLLR 106
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 13, 2020
Panel: Jean Buie
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Carla Sturdy
Country: China
RPD Number: TB9-09028
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-09067
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000152-000154

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision in the claims of, I’m sorry if for mispronouncing your name, [XXX]. Can you pronounce your daughter’s name for me, [XXX]?

[2]                   Claimant:       [XXX].

[3]                   Member:        Thank you.

[4]       Citizens of China who seek refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This decision is being rendered from the Bench and a written form of the reasons may be edited. I find that you are Convention refugees, I find you have Nexus to the Convention for religion as Christians.

[5]       With respect to the allegations you provided a comprehensive Basis of Claim narrative. To summarize you are a Christian and have been since 2017. You attended an underground church in China weekly since that time. Your church was raided [XXX] 2018 at Sunday service and the leader was taken into custody. The PSB took down your name and threatened you. Your family was called to pick you up and they too were threatened when they arrived.

[6]       On [XXX] 2018, three neighborhood committee officers went to your home and conducted a re-education program. They also threatened that if you attempted to attend church again that there would be severe consequences. Your family attempted to convince you to stop going to church but as you were not willing to do so it was agreed that you and your daughter would leave.

[7]       You engaged the services of a Snakehead, applied for a U.S. visa and left China on [XXX]. You and your daughter flew though Hawaii then Seattle and then drove to the Canadian border. You made your claim shortly after arriving. You fear returning to China because you cannot practice your faith without being targeted by the PSB.

[8]       With respect to your identities, your identities were established by your testimony as well as the documents filed including copies of your passport.

[9]       Your credibility was determinative in your claim and I found you to be a credible witness today.

[10]     While I had some concerns regarding the fact that you lied in the past in an attempt to obtain a Canadian visa, and again in the application for the US visa, as well as to US immigration officials at the interview. I found that these concerns were not determinative given the overall credibility of your testimony and the other evidence you provided.

[11]     You’ve expressed a sincere Christian faith and a commitment to practice, as well as a desire to continue to raise your daughter in the Christian faith. It is an important part of your family life which you could not continue to engage in if were to return to China. This is supported by the documents you filed including your letters of support.

[12]     I found persuasive your testimony with respect to why you could not attend a State sanctioned church. Including that it places State above God which is a violation of the first Commandment, and also the importance of spreading the Gospel for which you stated is a mission given by Christ. And that you continue to engage in spreading the Gospel since coming to Canada.

[13]     Regarding state protection and availability of an internal flight alternative, I find that it is the State authorities whom you fear. You’ve been warned by State officials, have in fact undergone re-education during which you were told if you practiced again you would be severely punished. I accept that you are at heightened risk in the context of the current country conditions given this.

[14]     I also find that there is no Internal flight alternative given the State officials are the persons targeting you. I understand that the NDP documents are mixed with respect to the risk in China but for the more recent NDP as noted by your counsel references a change in circumstances, including an increase in the targeting of Christians more recently and this has taken place in your home province. Given your particular circumstances and your previous history with police contact which I found credible, I believe that if you were to return there is more than a mere possibility you would be targeted again, especially given your commitment to spreading the Gospel.

[15]     Similarly, I find the inability for your daughter to be raised in a Christian faith which you testified she has embraced herself, amounts to persecution. As noted by counsel, the country condition documents indicate that minors are specifically forbidden from attending churches or from receiving any religious information. In that respect your choice to raise your daughter in the Christian faith would itself be a risk.

[16]     Based on the evidence that you provided today as well as the country documents, I find your fear of persecution in China to be objectively well founded.

[17]     I conclude that you are both Convention refugees and I accept your claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Saudi Arabia

2020 RLLR 92

Citation: 2020 RLLR 92
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 21, 2020
Panel: Stéphane Hébert
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Jessica Lipes
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: MB8-20274
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000027-000034

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

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

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       You allege the following: you have a friend named [XXX].

[3]       You are a [XXX]-year-old male from Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, your parents and siblings are all in Jeddah with the exception of a brother who is living in California, United States of America (USA).

[4]       When you were still seventeen years old, you were invited by your friend [XXX] to gather with a teenage group including boys and girls at his compound in Al Durrah Al Aros Beach, which is a residential area in Jeddah.

[5]       This was a second home for [XXX] family, but that house was not their main residence.

[6]       You alleged having been there in the past to gather with your friends and you never had a problem.

[7]       You stated that your gathering was disrupted by four religious police assisted by two regular policemen who broke the door and handcuffed you, before taking you all in their truck and then to a religious police station.

[8]       Once at the religious police station, the girls’ parents were called, they were released and picked up by their respective family while the boys including you were sent to prison.

[9]       You and [XXX] were sent to Dar Al Moahaza prison and the other boys to Breman prison.

[10]    You alleged that the other boys were released due to their family’s political influence while you and [XXX] remained detained.

[11]     You were forced to study and memorized the Holy Koran and when you failed to properly answer, you were hit or beaten.

[12]     You appeared to a Court along with [XXX] a month after your arrest. Being a minor and without legal representation, you were not allowed to speak, got sentenced one year of prison and were flogged 127 times.

[13]     You benefitted from the Prince forgiveness and were allegedly released after 53 days, but not before you were flogged 127 times.

[14]     Upon your release, you were treated at home by your mother and resume school following an agreement with the school direction, allowing you to finish your high school.

[15]     Your family and yourself decided that it would be better for you to pursue your studies abroad considering this incident and you left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the USA in 2011.

[16]     You obtained a University degree in [XXX], but during your stay in the USA, you returned only twice for one week each time as you did not like being there.

[17]     Upon your return in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017 and after you had experienced religious freedom in the USA, you had more and more problems to comply with religious regulations.

[18]     You had difficulties at Panasonic in Jeddah as you had been challenged on your religious belief or practice when it was time for the compulsory prayer.

[19]     You have also been arrested and detained for a day and a half as a result of your nonconformity appearance, considering that wearing an earring in the Kingdom is not very common.

[20]     Based on your previous arrest, detention and torture, while you were still a minor for simply being with teenagers of your age including boys and girls, you developed [XXX] and [XXX] since your return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as you did not feel secure anymore and considering that you could not easily surrender your freedom of conscience.

[21]     On [XXX] 2018, you met [XXX], a childhood friend whom you have not seen for years.

[22]     Your discussion deviated to the lifestyle in the USA compared to the prevailing in the Kingdom and you expressed criticism toward the religion and the government.

[23]     Later on, you saw the same friend in a police uniform when on your way to the gym as you were driving your brother’s car, you were pulled aside and requested to accompany him to the station for further investigation.

[24]     You immediately and spontaneously started running in order to escape and you went to your apartment where you received a call eventually from your brother saying that the police had already come to the family residence.

[25]     Being already in possession of a valid US visa, you called a travel agency and booked the first flight for the USA the next day at 4:00PM.

[26]     The next day, you rushed to the airport, waited for your flight and entered the USA the same day on [XXX] 2018.

[27]     You testified that you simply wanted to leave your country at that time as you knew that with a previous police file, you would be mistreated due to your opinion toward religion and the Kingdom.

[28]     You came to Canada on [XXX] 2018, after being in the USA for two days during which you had done research on the web and you claimed asylum.

[29]     A warrant of arrest was issued against you on [XXX] 2018, while you were in Canada but was made aware of it on [XXX] 2020.

[30]     You are fearful to go back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as you will be arrested and detained.

DECISION

[31]     I find that you are a refugee, pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA, as there exists a serious possibility of persecution, should you return to Saudi Arabia, on account of your: religion, political opinion.

Identity

[32]     I find that your identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by the documents provided, namely your passport which was seized by the Canadian Border Services Agency and accordingly, you have met your burden.

Credibility

[33]     I find you to be a credible witness and therefore believe what you alleged in support of your claim.

[34]     You testified in a straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me.

[35]     Initially, the tribunal had to confront you on some interrogations pertaining to your subjective fears (failure to claim asylum in the USA and returns to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and the absence of supporting evidence concerning your conviction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

[36]     The question of subjective fear was raised as I noted that you did not seek asylum in the USA where you studied from 2011 to 2017, and you returned to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia upon completing your University degree in the USA. However, the evidence indicates that you were only seventeen years old when you went to the USA and you testified that you had not made yet this decision to leave for ever your country, especially that you were missing your mother. This explanation seems reasonable in your alleged circumstances, especially the age factor and therefore does not raise significant concerns with respect to subjective fear or credibility

[37]     I further note that Refugee Protection Division (RPD) rule 11 requires you to provide acceptable documents establishing elements of your claim, or a reasonable explanation indicating why they were not produced.

[38]     You were indeed asked why you did not produce your court file and you stated that since you were a minor, your father had all the documents but forbid all discussions as they are still in Saudi Arabia and he is afraid of the repercussion of the family members, since it is of public knowledge that the Kingdom does not hesitate to pressure or persecute the remaining family members present in Saudi Arabia, to pressure the individual abroad to come back or comply with their request, and the claimant added that even his brother in California did not want to get involved and for the same reasons, did not issue any statement.

[39]     Ultimately, the claimant declared that without his father’s collaboration, he simply could not provide any document pertaining to his past arrest and detention as he was a minor unrepresented and all the documents were in the hands of his father who did not want to collaborate as he was extremely fearful of the potential consequences over the security of the family present in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

[40]     Moreover, during that period, a diplomatic crisis was opposing Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom spying attempts over their nationals in Canada were observed as it more fully appears from the objective documentary evidence.

[41]     I therefore find the explanation to be reasonable and coherent with the objective evidence.

[42]     Finally, the following evidence establishes your allegations as set out above the warrant of arrest issued by the State (Exhibit 4, item E-19). After reviewing the said document, I have no reasons to doubt its authenticity. Consequently, considering the testimonial evidence and this supporting evidence, the tribunal may easily conclude that shall you return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you will be arrested and detained.

Objective basis

[43]     Given that there are no serious credibility issues with respect to your allegations, coupled with the documentary evidence set out below, I find that you have established a prospective risk of being subjected to the following harm(s): arrest, detention and torture.

[44]     This risk is corroborated by the following documents:

The DOS Report for 2019 (Exhibit 3- item 2.1) mentions:

“The law also penalizes anyone who challenges, either directly or indirect/y, the religion or justice of the king or crown prince(…).”

“Statements that authorities construed as constituting defamation of the king, monarchy, governing system, or Al Saud family resulted in criminal charges for citizens advocating government reform.”

-and-

Significant human rights issues included unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offences; forced disappearances; torture of prisoners and detainees by government agents; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; arbitrary interference with privacy; criminalization of libel, censorship, and site blocking; restrictions on freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and movement; severe restrictions of religious freedom; citizens’ lack of ability and legal means to choose their government through free and fair elections; trafficking in persons; violence and official discrimination against women, although new women’s rights initiatives were implemented; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity; and prohibition of trade unions.”

[45]     The Human Right Watch Report (Exhibit 3, item 2) states that:

“Surveillance is extensive inside Saudi Arabia, and even Saudis living abroad are vulnerable ta spying. In October, the University of Toronto’s citizen Lab found surveillance software on the phone of Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada who was in regular contact with Khashoggi before this assassination”.

[46]     The Saudi Arabia World Report 2020 Events of 2019 from Human Right Watch (Exhibit 3, items 2-5) corroborated similarly situation for minor under the penal justice in Saudi Arabia in the following terms:

“Saudi Arabia applies Sharia (Islamic law) as its national law. There is no formal penal code, but the government has passed some laws and regulations that subject certain broadly defined offences ta criminal penalties. In the absence of a written penal code or narrowly-worded regulations, however, judges and prosecutors can convict people on a wide range of offences under broad, catch-all charges such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler” or “trying to distort the reputation of the kingdom.” Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest.”

[47]     Finally, the Report from Saudi Arabia: Freedom of the World from Freedom House 2019 (Exhibit 3, items 2-4), is well describing the socio-political reality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

“Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties. No officials at the national level are elected. The regime relies on extensive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power. Women and religious minorities face extensive discrimination in law and in practice. Working conditions for the large expatriate labor force are often exploitative.”

[48]     The above stated objective evidence is describing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a theocracy which persecute all forms of dissidence.

Nature of the harm

[49]     I have examined your claim under section 96 of the IRPA, as I conclude that the risk you describe constitutes persecution based on at least one of the grounds prescribed in section 96, specifically your religion and political opinion.

CONCLUSION

[50]     In light of the preceding, I conclude that you are a refugee, pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA. Accordingly, I accept your claim.

Categories
All Countries Iran

2020 RLLR 85

Citation: 2020 RLLR 85
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 11, 2020
Panel: Lesley Stalker
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Rasik Shah
Country: Iran
RPD Number: VB9-04273
Associated RPD Number(s): VB9-04292, VB9-04293
ATIP Number: A-2021-00800
ATIP Pages: 000164-000170

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division in the claims of [XXX], the principal claimant and her children [XXX], associated claimant and [XXX] the minor claimant. The claimants are citizens of Iran who are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and Subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       In rendering these reasons, I considered and applied Chairperson’s Guideline 4 on Female Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Based Persecution and Chairperson’s Guideline 3 on Child Refugee Claimants Procedural and Evidentiary Issues. At the outset of the hearing, I maintained the designation of the principal claimant as the designated representative for her minor daughter, [XXX] Her son [XXX] turned [XXX] years old in [XXX] 2019 and so does not require a designated representative.

Allegations

[3]       The principal claimant fears gender-based persecution on the basis of her objection to strict gender-based roles for women in Iran. She is a painter and a poet who has used her art to decry what she has described as the tyranny of the Islamic regime against women. She says she endured two loveless arranged marriages which left her both broke and broken.

[4]       She also fears persecution on the basis of her religious beliefs and her imputed political opinion. The associated claimant [XXX] fears persecution due to his religious beliefs and his political beliefs. He says he believes in God but does not follow a particular religion. He rejects the mandatory Islamic, the mandatory imposition of Islamic beliefs on Iranian citizens.  And fears persecution due to his repudiation of a theocratic government in favor of a secular model.

[5]       The minor claimant [XXX] fears persecution on the basis of her gender. She objects to the strictures imposed on women in Iran, including the mandatory dress code. She also rejects the mandatory imposition of Islamic values on Iranian citizens. And says that she does not adhere to a particular religion.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[6]       I’m backing up here.

Determination

[7]       The Panel finds that the three claimants have established a serious risk of persecution in Iran based on their religious beliefs and in the case of the two female claimants, on the basis of their gender.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[8]       The claimants’ identities are confirmed by the testimony of the principal claimant and by their passports, certified true copies of which are on file.

Credibility

[9]       In refugee determine case, determination cases there is a presumption that claimants and their allegations are truthful. I found the three claimants to be credible witnesses.   They each endeavored to answer questions accurately and to elaborate on their answers when asked to do so. There were no material inconsistencies or contradution-, contradictions within or between their respective testimonies.  The principal claimant submitted a number of documents which corroborate her allegations. These includes a subpoena issued in [XXX] 2018 requiring her to attend a preliminary inquiry into whether she insulted the san-, sanctity of Islam.  This is found in Exhibit 4 at page 21.

[10]     She also submitted photocopies of her paintings and translations of her poetry which are collectively a heart-rending lament against the oppression of wislam-, oppression of women by the theocratic regime. In one poem she writes, I was a beautiful blossom., they shed all my pet-, petals before I bloom, not giving me a chance to see the spring. Another poem refers to the “beastly religious rules, those demons”.  And another says “religion is the lie of frauds.”

[11]     The principal claimant also filed a card attesting to her father’s membership in the Rastakhiz, R-A-S-T-A­K-H-I-Z Party and a death certificate which confirms her father’s death in [XXX] 1983. In her BOC, she said that her father was effectively assassinated because of his political beliefs.

[12]     The objective country evidence in the Immigration and Refugee Board’s National Documentation Package substantiate the claimant’s allegations concerning the lack of freedom of religious belief and the treatment of women. Based on the presumption of truthfulness and the corroborative evidence, I accept the allegations as set out in the princi-, principal claimant’s BOC and updated narrative as credible.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[13]     I find that the principal claimant has established a well-founded fear of persecution based on her status as a woman and on her rejection of Islamic strictures on the people of Iran.

Profile of the Principal Claimant

[14]     The principal claimant’s profile is as follows. She says that her extended family has long opposed the regime. Her father was pursued by clerics in the early days of the revolution and eventually killed in a staged car accident. Her mother who is fearful for the safety of her outspoken and headstrong daughter, arranged for the principal claimant to marry an older man who worked for the regime when she, the principal claimant, was only [XXX] years old. When she was married, she was expelled by the school. After some incidents of abuse, the [XXX] bride fled her home and marriage. Her husband subsequently divorced her and she was allowed to complete high school.

[15]     Following the breakdown of this marriage, the principal claimant’s brother chaperoned her closely. She felt she was living in a prison of his creation. When she was [XXX], she married a 30-year-old man to escape the prison fashioned by her brother. The principal claimant and her husband have two children who are the associated claimants in this hearing. That marriage broke down when the principal claimant was in her early [XXX] and she again found herself marginalized as a divorced woman.

[16]     She began to teach art out of her home.  The classes became a center for discussion about various social issues. She wanted to take these ideas beyond her home, so registered at a university. However, her outspoken views created ongoing problems at the university and she had to drop out after three terms. She opened an art school but the ongoing pressure by Sepah, S-E-P-A-H and the Basij, B-A-S-I-J forced her to cut the male instructors from her school. She had to repeatedly write promissory letters to comply with the Iranian regime’s requirements.  And eventually, had to close the school altogether. She continued to pour her hopes, her anger and her pain into her poetry and her art.

[17]     In [XXX] 2018, she visited her sister in Canada. She was astounded to see a country in which women are treated with respect.  She returned to Iran only because her children were still there. Upon her return to Iran, the authorities continued their surveillance of her activities. On [XXX] 2018, they forced her over in her car.  When the officers started to humiliate and disrep-, disrespect her, she erupted in rage against Islam and its laws. She was arrested and released the following day upon posting a bond.

[18]     On [XXX] 2018 she received a subpoena ordering her to attend an inquiry on [XXX] the [XXX], 2018. A cousin informed her that she was not yet on a no-exit list, so she and her children flew to Turkey on [XXX] the [XXX] 2018. The claimants were only allowed to stay in Turkey for three months. The principal claimant reluctant-, reluctantly agreed to pay [XXX] to an agent so that she could get visas for her children to get to Canada.

[19]     The principal claimant returned to Iran in [XXX] 2018 to finalize her affairs and grant power of attorney to her brother. She did not return to her home and took precautions to remain undetected. Nonetheless, despite these precautions, she received a call saying that she was being followed and that she faced being killed. On [XXX] she learned that a second subpoena had been delivered to her home and she immediately returned to Turkey. The three claimants flew to Canada on [XXX], 2018.

[20]     The associated claimant, [XXX] who is [XXX] years old, testified about his religious and political beliefs. As noted above, he says he does not adhere to any religion. And refuses to participate in the religious rituals and practices which are demanded in many parts of Iranian life. He noted that he now faces the mandatory military service in Iran as a soldier. If he refuses to pray or to fast during Ramadan he faces flogging and other punishments including the extension of his military service. His mother testified that [XXX] is rebellious by nature. And she fears that his free-spirited actions will quickly bring him to the attention of the authorities.

[21]     The minor claimant, [XXX] is [XXX] years of age. She testified about her objection to the strictures imposed on women in Iran in the name of Islam, in the name of Islam.  Including the mandatory wearing of the hijab. The principal claimant testified that [XXX] hated having to wear the hijab in Iran. She recalled that when [XXX] was approximately [XXX] or [XXX] years old, the principal claimant picked her up from school by car on a hot day. Once in the car, [XXX] pulled her headscarf off. The religious police saw this and detained the principal claimant and [XXX] for a day. [XXX] was incensed by this and remains so to this day. [XXX] testified that she is not a practicing Muslim and that she does not believe in any religion.

Nexus

[22]     I find that the fears of the principal claimant and [XXX] are refle-, are connected to the refugee Convention grounds of religion, membership in a particular social group, namely gender.  And actual or imputed political beliefs. The fears of the associated claimant [XXX] are connected to the Convention ground of religion and political belief. I therefore assess their claims under Section 96 of the Act.

Subjective Basis

[23]     The principal claimant has described her fears of persecution persuasively and in detail. Her decision to return to Iran in [XXX] 2018 raises a question about whether she may have reavailed herself of the protection of her country. I find that her description about the precautions she took to remain undetected and her immediate flight back to Turkey when the second subpoena arrived have satisfied me that she had a sub-, has a subjective fear of persecution in Iran. And that her short-term return to the country in [XXX] 2018 does not undercut that subjective fear.

[24]     The associated claimant and minor claimant also established a subjective fear of persecution throughout their eloquent and pervasive testimony.

Objective Evidence

[25]     The objective evidence supports the fears of the three claimants. Reports in the National Documentation Package confirm that the Iranian State authorities continue to impose harsh restrictions on the rights of women. To arrest wome-, women rights activists, prohibit dissemination of information the government deems damaging and that the government maintains control on art and censors art production that is deemed to promote secularism or non-Islamic ideas about women’s rights and behaviors. And for this I, I’m referring to the information in the U.S. Department of State report found at Tab 2.1 of the NDP. Iran is a theocracy where ultimate power rests with the supreme leader and unelected institutions under his control.

[26]     The gender policies among the ideological pillars of the Islamic Republic and therefore, patriarchy is enforced by the State itself.

[27]     Legislation in Iran is based on Sharia law which generally regus-, reduce a woman as having only half the value of a man. The 2017 Global Gender Gap ranks Iran at 140 out of 144 countries. And for this, I refer to the report at Tab 5.1 at the NDP. Amnesty International states that violence against women and girls including domestic violence and early enforced marriage are widespread and committed with impunity as gender-based violence is not criminalized.

[28]     According to the Finnish Immigration Service sexual harassment is widespread and violence against women is commonplace in Iran. More than 50% of women have suffered psychological abuse. And more than 1 in 3 had suffered acts of physical abuse. Almost 1 in 3 of the surveyed women reported having experienced restrictions included, including limitations on contacts with friends and family. And limitations on their ability to pursue employment, education or participation in public affairs. The report also states that women feel compel-, compelled to tolerate violence inflicted not only by their husbands, but also by other family members for fear of shame, being ostracized or divorced. And because there are a lack of alternatives to the abusive environments. And for that, I refer to Tab 5.3 of the NDP.

[29]     Restrictions on women govern all aspects of their lives. Women cannot ride bicycles, enter stadiums, travel alone or choose their clothes. Female athletes have traditionally been barred from competing in international tournaments. All women, irrespective of religion, are required to cover their hair, skin above the wrist or ankle and below the neck and the contours of their body in public. And this last proposition is found in the Response to Information Request at Tab 5.4.

[30]     The law provides that a woman who appears in public without appropriate attire such as, such as a hijab over the head or a long jacket, manteau, M-A-N-T-E-A-U or a full-length cloth covering, chador, may be sentenced to flogging and fined.  And this is the U.S. Department of State report at Tab 2.1. These laws are enforced with vigor. Approximately 730,000 women a year are arrested for failing to comply with the billing requirement.  And this is Tab 5.1 of the NDP.  However, there’s no consensus on what constitutes a proper hijab which leaves women vulnerable to the interpretation or whims of the enforcing officer.

[31]     According to the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation, cultural figures including musicians are targeted by the regime, regardless of whether they live in Iran as their work is deemed to be immoral.   And this is found in NDP Item 2.6. Solo female artists are prohibited from performing in front of audiences. And musicians are constan-, consistently banned, imprisoned and harassed by authorities.

[32]     And I find on a balance of probabilities that the restrictions or harassment that are imposed on musicians are likely to be equally applied to other forms of art, including painting or poetry, such as the work that the principal claimant has done. The country reports also indicate that the Iranian authorities demands strict adherence to Sharia laws and criminalize dissent.

[33]     The U.S. Department of International Religious Freedom report states that Iran’s constitution defines the country as an Islamic Republic and all laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria. Conversion from Islam to another faith is punishable by death. An IRB Response to Information Request on the treatment of atheists in Iran found at Tab 12.14 of the NDP quotes sources as saying that atheism is not recognized in Iran. And under Iran’s Sharia law any Muslim who abandons his or her faith may face the death penalty for apostasy.

[34]     With the respect to the ability to freely express one’s opinion, the USDOS report at Tab 2.1 states that the law provides for the prosecution of persons accused of instigating crimes against the State or national security or insulting Islam. The government severely restricted freedom  of speech and of the press and use the law to intimidate or prosecute persons who directly criticize the government or raised  human rights problems. As well as to bring ordinary citizens into compliance with the government’s moral code. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 2018 annual report found at Tab 12.2 indicates that the government of Iran discriminates against its citizens on the basis of religion or belief. As all laws and regulations are based on the unique Ja’fari Shia Islamic criteria.

[35]     Under Iran’s Penal Code, mohareh-, moharebeh vaguely defined and often used for political purposes and Sabul-Nabi, S-A-B-U-L – N-A-B-I, insulting the prophet, are capital crimes. The same document notes that the Iranian government exercises strict control over expression  of religious ideas and dissent online as part of its broader censorship and targeted use of technology.

[36]     Upon reviewing the credib-, the claimants’ credible testimony and the country reports on Iran, I find that they have collectively and individually established  that they face a serious risk of persecution in Iran on the basis of their religious beliefs. And in the case of the two female claimants, on the basis of their gender. Given my finding that the claimants face a risk of persecution because of their religious beliefs, I’ve not assessed the risk they may face on the basis of their political opinions.

State Protection

[37]     Given that the State is the agent of harm, I find there’s no state protection available to them. Furthermore, given the State’s capacity and censorship laws and their laws against apostasy and blasphemy which extend throughout the country, I find they face a serious possibility of persecution throughout the country.

[38]     It is therefore, not possible for them to relocate to another location in Iran. There is no in-, viable internal flight alternative available to them.

CONCLUSION

[39]     For the foregoing reasons, I find that the claimants have established that they are Convention refugees pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I therefore accept your claims.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Iran

2020 RLLR 67

Citation: 2020 RLLR 67
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 21, 2020
Panel: Jeffrey Brian Gullickson
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Joseph W. Allen
Country: Iran
RPD Number: MB9-14763
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00800
ATIP Pages: 000055-000057

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       [XXX] is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Her passport proves her identity and that she is a citizen of Iran.

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

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The claimant’s religious view is “non believer” and does not follow Islam and refused to [XXX] it to her [XXX] as she was required by the [XXX] where she worked in Iran.

[4]       During her travels to Canada, she had posted photos of her where she did not wear a hijab or chador required for women in Iran. For this, persons at her [XXX] threatened to denounce her to Iranian authorities where she would be suspected of non-Islamic behaviour and for being a non­believer and disproportionately punished.

DETERMINATION

[5]       The claimant is a Convention refugee. She established a serious possibility of persecution for religion and imputed political opinion.

ANALYSIS

Credibility

[6]       She was credible regarding key elements of her claim.

[7]       There were numerous credibility concerns. They were not determinative.

[8]       The National Documentation Package (NDP) for Iran, dated 29 March 2019, Iran refers to severe corporal or other punishment for apostasy, un-Islamic behavior or behavior not consistent with state-prescribed morals consistent with Shia religious practice or behaviour (NDP, tabs 9.8 and 11.1). The NDP mentions that political dissidents are accused by state authorities of serious capital crimes either against Islam or against national security and subject lengthy arbitrary detention and mistreatment in detention (NDP, tab 1.14, p. 10; tab 2.1, pp. 4 and 16).

[9]       Given the above, I conclude that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution for religion in Iran for her non-Islamic view.

State protection

[10]     I find that there is clear and convincing evidence before me that the state is unable or unwilling to provide you with adequate protection, for reasons mentioned above.

Internal flight alternative

[11]     On the evidence before me, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Iran for the claimant, for reasons mentioned above.

CONCLUSION

[12]     The claimant is a Convention refugee.

[13]     I accept her claim.