Categories
All Countries Uganda

2021 RLLR 2

Citation: 2021 RLLR 2
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: May 12, 2021
Panel: Suraj Balakrishnan
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Johnson Babalola
Country: Uganda
RPD Number: TB9-27084
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Pages: 000045-000052

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       The claimant, XXXX XXXX alleges that he is a citizen of Uganda, and is claiming refugee protection in Canada pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

DETERMINATION

[2]       Having considered all of the evidence, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant has established that he would face a serious possibility of persecution in Uganda because of his religion.

ALLEGATIONS

[3]       The specifics of the claim are set out in the narrative of the claimant’s Basis of Claim Form, as amended.1 The following is a summary of the claimant’ s allegations.

[4]       The claimant alleges to be a citizen of Uganda. He fears being persecuted by the Tabliq, a fundamentalist faction of Ugandan Muslims, because of his Christian proselytization efforts.

IDENTITY

[5]       The claimant’s personal identity and nationality have been established, on a balance of probabilities, through his testimony, as well as documentation filed; namely, a certified true copy of his Ugandan passport.2

NEXUS

[6]       The panel finds that there is a nexus between the harms that the claimant fears and his religious views and practices. The claim will therefore be assessed pursuant to section 96 of IRPA. The test under section 96 is whether there is a serious possibility of persecution should the claimant return to Uganda and the panel has found that the claimant has met that test.

CREDIBILITY

Identity as a Christian

[7]       When a claimant affirms to tell the truth, this creates a presumption of truthfulness unless there is evidence to the contrary. The claimant testified in a detailed manner consistent with his BOC about growing up as a Christian and becoming more interested in Christianity during his university days in the United Kingdom. The claimant testified that he became more interested in Christianity in the UK because he would encounter Muslims proselytizing, and he wanted to learn more about Christianity so that he would be able to defend his faith in these discussions.

[8]       The claimant was asked basic questions about Christianity, including the most recent church service he attended, the contents of the sermon, his favorite story from the Bible, and Easter. The claimant’s responses were very detailed. The claimant also provided a copy of his Certificate of Baptism from XXXX XXXX XXXX3, as well as a supporting letter form XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX in Canada.4 The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant is a genuine practicing Christian.

Proselytism and Incidents

[9]       When the claimant returned to Kampala, Uganda, he went to a park on three occasions with a friend during May of 2019 where Muslims were proselytizing. On the first visit to the park, the claimant shared his views of Christianity with two of the Muslim proselytizers who were old friends of the claimant’s friend. The claimant did not sense any hostility from the two Muslim proselytizers; they shared a ride back to their respective homes as they had to go in the same direction. On his subsequent visit to the park, the claimant, in his efforts to defend and spread Christianity to the same two Muslim proselytizers, criticized, among other things, the Prophet Muhammad. In response, the Muslim proselytizers became angry and threatened to kill the claimant for insulting the honor of the Prophet Muhammad. The claimant and his friend left the park and decided to visit the park on another day so that they could preach to different Muslim proselytizers. On a third visit to the park, five or six Muslim proselytizers were expressing angry comments and threatening the claimant.

[10]     After his last effort to proselytize, the claimant testified that several incidents took place. First, his security guard informed him of two people behaving suspiciously near the claimant’s home. While the claimant was briefly away in Nigeria to attend a Christian service that he believed would bless him for his personal safety, his mother informed him of an acid attack near her home that she believed, after speaking to others in the area, was an attack intended for the claimant and carried out by the Tabliq. The claimant returned to Uganda and hid in his mother’s home, whereafter there were two additional incidents, including finding a padlock at his mother’s home tampered with and hearing some commotion outside his mother’s home along with Islamic chants. His friend later informed him that these were attempts made by the Tabliq.

[11]     The claimant’s testimony about his proselytization efforts was detailed, consistent with his BOC, and his responses to matters not set forth in his BOC was candid. In particular, the claimant was very detailed in testifying about what he said in his efforts to proselytize. The claimant’ s testimony about the incidents that followed was consistent with his BOC and somewhat detailed, and the claimant was emotionally expressive in his testimony.

[12]     The claimant provided supporting documentation to corroborate his proselytization efforts and the incidents that ensued, including an affidavit from his mother,5 attesting to the incidents that occurred near her home, as well as an original physical copy of a newspaper article in the newspaper titled XXXX XXXX,6 which contains the claimant’s photo and states, apparently based on information provided by the claimant’ s relatives, that the claimant insulted the Prophet Muhammad and has fled Uganda in fear of retaliation from the Tabliq. The claimant testified that the newspaper is circulated nationally, and that the author of the article likely found out about his situation through his mother. The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that these documents help corroborate the claimant’s allegations regarding his proselytization efforts and the incidents that followed.

[13]     Specifically, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant engaged in proselytization efforts; that in the course of proselytizing, he expressed views critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad; and that he faced retaliation from the Tabliq.

[14]     Given the credible testimony by the claimant, as well as the corroborating documentation cited above, the panel finds the claimant to be a credible witness. Therefore, the panel believes what the claimant has alleged in support of his claim and finds that his subjective fear of persecution due to his religion is established, on a balance of probabilities.

OBJECTIVE BASIS

[15]     The objective documentary evidence in the national documentation package is limited and mixed as it relates to problems faced by Christians in Uganda in connection with Islamic religious extremism. One article describes the Tabliq as a fundamentalist faction of Ugandan Muslims, but notes that “[d]ifferent religions do not only coexist but even cooperate” in Uganda.7 Another article, however, notes that Uganda ranks “just outside the top 50 countries in which Christians are persecuted”8 and reports that “Christian groups living in areas affected by the presence of Islamic extremists face persecution.”9 The article documents several instances of Muslim who convert to Christianity being attacked.10 While the claimant himself is not a convert from Islam to Christianity, he was trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

[16]     The claimant provided numerous news articles documenting attacks by Islamic religious extremists against Christians, including for expressing views that are offensive to some Muslims and for Christian proselytization.11 These articles document attacks from various regions in Uganda. The claimant also provided an article from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, which describes the Tabliq as being religiously fundamentalist and having connections to terrorism.12

[17]     The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that while ordinary Christians do not face persecution in Uganda, there is an objective basis to the claimant’s fear of returning to Uganda. This is because (i) the country conditions documents indicate that there are Islamic religious extremists in Uganda who attack Christians who express views offensive to Islam and for Christian proselytization, (ii) the claimant was involved in proselytizing to Islamic religious extremists and the nature of his proselytization involved expressing views that could be construed as offensive or blasphemous to Islamic religious extremists, and (iii) the claimant’s identity and story have been publicized in a widely circulated newspaper. Accordingly, the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Uganda.

STATE PROTECTION

[18]     In general, there is a presumption that state protection is available to the claimant and this presumption must be rebutted with clear and convincing evidence. Here, the claimant testified to going to the police after his security guard informed him of two people behaving suspiciously near his home. The claimant testified that the police requested a bribe and suggested that the claimant brought this upon himself by disturbing Muslims.

[19]     The claimant submitted country conditions news articles indicating that the police in Uganda are generally viewed as being very corrupt, including due to bribery.13 In the national documentation package, the Uganda 2020 Crime & Safety Report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council notes that “[d]espite efforts to professionalize and modernize the force, the UPF still struggles with a lack of resources, corruption, and regular reports of human rights violations.”14 Freedom House provides Uganda with a score of 1 out of 4 in each of the subcategories under Rule of Law, including whether due process prevails.15 The United States Department of State notes numerous issues with policing in Uganda, including bribery.16

[20]     The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection in Uganda. This is because the claimant testified in a detailed and candid manner about trying to obtain state protection and being asked for a bribe, and the country conditions cited above indicate that such corruption is a serious issue in Uganda.

INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE

[21]     The panel considered whether a viable internal flight alternative exists for the claimant, particularly in Mbarara, a large city located approximately 270 kilometers away from Kampala, where the claimant engaged in proselytization and faced retaliation.

[22]     The claimant testified that proselytization of the kind of he engaged in is an important part of his religious practice that he would continue to engage in if he were returned to Uganda. Given the claimant’s previous proselytization efforts and his very detailed and expressive testimony about his previous proselytization efforts, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant would continue to proselytize in the manner he did in the past if returned to Uganda. The claimant further testified that he is active on social media, which was supported by a copy of his Facebook activity log.17 According to the claimant, this could make it easier for those pursuing him to track him down. The claimant also testified, in a manner consistent with his BOC, that his mother has received threats directed toward the claimant.

[23]     The panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Uganda. This is because (i) the country conditions documents indicate that attacks by Islamic religious extremists on Christians, including for Christian proselytization, occur in various regions across the country; (ii) the claimant testified that proselytization of the kind he engaged in is important to his religious practice, which suggests that the claimant could draw adverse attention to himself from Islamic religious extremists, including those who are already pursuing him; (iii) the claimant is active on social media, which could make it easier for him to be tracked down; (iv) the claimant’s identity and story, including the allegation that he insulted Prophet Muhammad, have been publicized in a newspaper; and (v) the Tabliq group appears to remain interested in the claimant. These factors indicate that the religious extremists would have the means and motivation to pursue the claimant.

CONCLUSION

[24]     Having considered all of the evidence, the panel finds that there is a serious possibility of persecution for the claimant in Uganda if the claimant returns to Uganda. The panel finds the claimant to be a Convention refugee and accepts his claim.

(signed) Suraj Balakrishnan  

May 12, 2021 

1 Exhibits 2 and 9.

2 Exhibit 1.

3 Exhibit 7.

4 Id.

5 Id.

6 Exhibit 13.

7 Exhibit 3, NDP 30 September 2020, Item 1.4, BTI 2020 Country Report – Uganda. Bertelsmann Stiftung. 2020. 22 September 2020.

8 Exhibit 3, NDP 30 September 2020, Item 12.2, UGA106318.E. Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 17 July 2019.

9 Id.

10 Id.

11 Exhibit 7.

12 Exhibit 13.

13 Exhibit 7.

14 Exhibit 3, NDP 30 September 2020, Item 7.2, Uganda. 2020 Crime and Safety Report. United States. Overseas

Security Advisory Council. 22 April 2020.

15 Exhibit 3, NDP 30 September 2020, Item 2.4, Uganda. Freedom in the World 2020. Freedom House. 2020.

16 Exhibit 3, NDP 30 September 2020, Item 2.1, Uganda. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2019. United States. Department of State. 11 March 2020.

17 Exhibit 11.

Categories
All Countries Pakistan

2021 RLLR 1

Citation: 2021 RLLR 1
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: June 15, 2021
Panel: Rodrick Flynn
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Miranda Lim
Country: Pakistan
RPD Number: TB9-17419
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-17487
ATIP Number: A-2022-00210
ATIP Pages: 000035-000044

REASONS FOR DECISION

[1]       XXXX XXXX (“the principal claimant”) and his wife, XXXX XXXX (“the female claimant”) (collectively “the claimants”) are citizens of Pakistan and are seeking refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.1

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       The specifics of the claimants’ allegations are set out in the common narrative2 attached to each of the Basis of Claim forms.3 In summary, the claimants indicate that they are bath members of the Ahmadi Muslim faith4 and fear persecution in Pakistan on the grounds of their religion5. The principal claimant was a resident of Italy from XXXX 20056 to XXXX 20197 and was issued an EC Long-Term Residence Permit (“the Permit”) in late 20188 before the claimants carne to Canada on XXXX, 2019.9 After growing up in Pakistan, the female claimant lived in Germany on a student visa from XXXX 2015 to XXXX 2019 on a series of term student visas.10

DETERMINATION

[3]       The panel finds the claimants to be Convention refugees under section 96 of the IRPA, based upon their Ahmadi religion.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[4]       The claimants’ respective identities as citizens of Pakistan are established by the various documents on file11, including a copy of their respective Pakistani passports12 which were submitted into evidence at the hearing.

[5]       The claimants’ religious identities as members of the Ahmadi faith are established, on a balance of probabilities by their credible oral evidence concerning the nature and history of their faith and their participation in religious activities; as well as various documents entered into evidence. These records include:

  • Canadian Ahmadi Certificates13;
  • Ahmadi identity cards;14
  • Ahmadi donation receipts from Canada;15
  • Ahmadi donation receipts from Pakistan;16
  • Ahmadi donation receipts from Italy and Germany;17 and
  • various other confirmations of their participation and recognition in the Ahmadi faith.18

Credibility

[6]       Both of the claimants gave oral evidence at the hearing. Generally, the panel finds them both to be credible witnesses, particularly with respect to their official marital status in Europe; their status in Italy and the EU and the Permit; and the most significant elements of their claims, including the reasons why they had left both Pakistan and Europe and came to Canada.

Well-founded fear of Persecution

[7]       As the panel has accepted the claimants’ respective religious identities as members of the Ahmadi faith, and in view of the clear and consistent objective evidence from the National Documentation Package for Pakistan19 that Ahmadis face persecution on religious grounds throughout Pakistan from both state and non-state actors without adequate state protection, the panel finds that there is a serious possibility of persecution for the claimants should they return to Pakistan.

[8]       The claimants have persuasively testified that they fear persecution and violence in Pakistan from various sources including the Pakistani government and religious extremists. This subjective fear is confirmed pervasively in the objective evidence.

[9]       As summarized by the UNCHR in Item 1.8 of the NDP for Pakistan, at p.46, Ahmadis in Pakistan face systemic discrimination and persecution both state-sponsored and from numerous private actors (including religious extremists as raised in the claimants’ oral evidence).20

“Repressive and discriminatory legislation coupled with State-sanctioned discriminatory practices have reportedly fostered a culture of religious intolerance and impunity. Consequently, members of the Ahmadi community are reportedly left vulnerable to abuse, violence including killings, harassment and intimidation at the hands of members of the community.”

[10]     The British Home Office Report on Ahmadi Muslims21 documents that in 1974, the Pakistani Constitution was amended to declare Ahmadis to be “Non-Muslims“.22 This was followed by a 1984 Amendment to Pakistani Penal Code, which are ” … commonly referred to as the anti-Ahmadi laws“.23

[11]     The objective evidence also records that the systemic state-sanctioned discrimination against Ahmadis is not palliated by correspondingly adequate internal protection. As noted in the aforementioned British Home Office Report at para. 2.5.4:

“The perpetrators of violence against religious and sectarian minorities are rarely apprehended and sentenced. There is a pattern of appeasement amongst the police of, and in some cases collusion with, religious extremists pursuing hate campaigns against the [Ahmadi] community.”24

[12]     Beyond police, the NDP also documents that despite the ostensible goal for the judiciary to be “… the last resort for a persecuted individual” to benefit from the rule of law25, the reality of like in Pakistan is that ” …the judiciary itself sometimes promotes tyranny“.26

[13]     The panel is persuaded, based upon the objective evidence from the NDP, that as members of the Ahmadi faith, the claimants face a serious possibility of persecution on this ground, throughout Pakistan, without adequate state protection.

Exclusion – Article 1E

[14]     The Minister has intervened in this matter in writing. In its “Notice of Intent to Intervene

-Exclusion 1E,”27 the Minister has taken the position that because the principal claimant obtained the Permit in Italy in 2018,28 he is a permanent resident of Italy, who, along with the female claimant, “…enjoy basic rights substantially similar to those of [Italy’s] nationals….”29

[15]     According to the Minister, because of the Permit, the principal claimant has permanent status in Italy and rights substantially similar to nationals so as to warrant their exclusion under 1E. With respect to the female claimant, the Minister has offered that “more likely than not, [the female claimant] already has permanent resident status and/or has access to permanent resident status as she is the spouse of a permanent resident“.30

[16]     According to the Minister, because the claimants both have this status in Italy, the claimants are excluded from refugee protection under the IRPA by operation of s.98 of the IRPA and Article IE of the Convention which read as follows:

“A person referred to in section E or F of Article 1 of the Refugee Convention31 is not a Convention Refugee or a person in need of protection”.32

Article 1E reads:

“This Convention shall not apply to a person who is recognized by the competent authorities of the country in which he has taken residence as having the rights and obligations which are attached to the possession of the nationality of that country”.33

[17]     The potential exclusion of the claimants was the principal focus of the hearing. The leading case on exclusion under Article 1E is the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Zeng34 which has been applied by the panel.

Current Status of the Claimants in Italy

[18]     The Minister contends that because the claimants have status in Italy – the principal claimant by the Permit and the female claimant by marriage to the principal claimant- they have rights in Italy which are substantially similar to nationals of that country.

[19]     This determination for each claimant must be made on the evidence.

Current Status of the Principal Claimant in Italy

[20]     The panel is satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, on the evidence before it, that the principal claimant was granted the Permit during 2018. However, the objective evidence of the NDP for Italy35 shows that the status and rights accorded under the permit are lost by a person spending more than 12 consecutive months outside of the European Union.36 Two Response to Information Requests in the NDP for Italy confirm that a Permit is “… voided if the person is absent from Europe for 12 consecutive months”.37 This objective evidence further stipulates that status accorded under the Permit can be revoked if the resident no longer meets the requirements38, such as an annual income requirement.39

[21]     The evidence before the panel is that the claimants have been in Canada (without leaving) since XXXX 2019. Accordingly, based upon this objective evidence, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities that, at the time of the hearing, having remained out of Italy for over 12 months, the principal claimant’ s status in Italy will have expired.

Status of the Female Claimant

[22]     The Minister’s position is the female claimant acquired status in Italy under the Permit by marriage to the principal claimant. As noted in the Minister’ s Brief:

” … the Minister is of the opinion that the [female claimant] has permanent resident status in Italy via spousal sponsorship”.40

[23]     However, in the panel’s view, this conclusion is not supported, on a balance of probabilities, by the evidence before it. Both the principal claimant and female claimant credibly testified that despite their religious marriage by proxy (from Italy and Germany respectively through the Whatsapp application) in XXXX 2016,41 attempts by the previously-married principal claimant to obtain proof from the Pakistani Consulate in Milan Italy (in the form of a “No Objection Certificate”) that he was free to enter into a civil marriage with the female claimant were refused.42 Similar efforts by the female claimant to register the marriage in Germany were also unsuccessful.

[24]     The evidence before the panel is that the claimants’ marriage has not been officially registered with any European authority, including in Italy. Accordingly, the panel has no evidence before it to demonstrate, on a balance of probabilities, that any benefit would be extended to the female claimant as a spouse; or that there is any overt sponsorship or sponsorship of the female claimant under the Permit by operation of law.

[25]     Accordingly, the panel is not satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the female claimant has permanent resident status in Italy or Europe or rights under the Permit.

Previous Status in Italy/EU – Principal Claimant

[26]     The objective evidence from the NDP for Italy43 shows that the Permit, while conveying a wealth of substantive rights44, confers status which is vulnerable to being lost or taken away from individuals such as the principal claimant on a variety of listed grounds.45

[27]     As noted by the Federal Court in Shamlou v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration),46 (quoting with approval Lorne Waldman, Immigration Law and Practice) at para. 35:

“If the applicant has some sort of temporary status which must be renewed, and which could be cancelled, or if the applicant does not have the right to return to the country of residence, clearly the applicant should not be excluded under Art. 1E.” [emphasis added].

[28]     In the panel’s view, the objective evidence clearly indicates that the principal claimant’s Permit could be cancelled on a number of grounds,47 including that ” … the bearer no longer fulfills the requirements for its issue”48 including a stipulated income requirement. 49 In the panel’s view, the principal claimant has provided credible evidence of chronic income instability during most of his time in Italy. The panel is satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the principal claimant is credible in his testimony s that because of the precarious status of his employment in Italy (comprised mostly by a series of contracts with various enterprises), aside from the issue of his absence (as noted above), he is vulnerable to having the Permit revoked on the grounds that he has not met the requisite income threshold.

[29]     Per Shamlou50, on the totality of evidence, because the Permit is vulnerable to being cancelled on multiple grounds, the panel finds on a balance of probabilities, that the principal claimant did not have status in Italy substantially similar to that of an Italian/EU national.

[30]     Further, as the panel has no evidence before it to indicate that the female claimant was conferred any rights, transitory or otherwise, under the Permit, it finds that she does not have status substantially similar to that of an Italian or EU national.

[31]     Accordingly, the panel finds that the claimants should not be excluded under Article 1E of s.98 of the IRPA.

CONCLUSION

[32]     For the reasons as above noted, the panel finds the claimants to be Convention refugees and accept their claims.

(signed) Roderick Flynn        

June 15, 2021 

1  Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c.27, as amended (hereinafter “the IRPA”).

2 Exhibit 2.1 and 2.2, “XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX, (hereinafter “the

Narrative”)

3  Exhibit 2.1 and Exhibit 2.2.

4 Narrative, para. 1.

5  Ibid., para. 48.

6 Ibid., para. 14.

7 Ibid, para. 46.

8 Ibid, para. 16.

9 Ibid, para. 46.

10 Ibid., para. 35, para. 43-46.

11 Exhibit 4 includes multiple identity documents for both claimants, both photographic and non-photographic, including their National Identity Cards starting at p.66.

12 Exhibit 1.

13 Exhibit 4, p.1.-2.

14 Ibid, p.3.

15 Ibid., p.5-6.

16 Ibid., p.16.

17 Ibid, p.20-31.

18 Ibid, p.37-60.

19 Exhibit 3.1, NDP for Pakistan.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid, “Country Policy and Information Note. Pakistan: Ahmadi Muslims.

22 Ibid, para. 3.1.6.

23 Ibid, para. 5.1.1.

24 Ibid, para. 2.5.4.

25 Ibid, para. 8.4.11.

26 Ibid.

27 Exhibit 7 (hereinafter “the Brief’ or “the Minister’s Brief’).

28 Narrative, para. 16; Minister’s Brief, para. 4.

29 Minister’s Brief, para. 17.

30 Ibid, para. 20 and 26.

31 Schedule to the IRPA, United Nations Convention on the Status ofRefugees.

32 IRPA, s.98.

33 Ibid.

34 2010 FCA 118 (“Zeng”).

35 Exhibit 3.2, National Documentation Package for Italy

36 Ibid, Item 3.7 “Response to Information Request (March 6, 2015). Italy: The permesso di soggiorno illimitata including its physical characteristics, requirements and procedures to obtain and renew the document, rights of holders of the document”, p.4. See also “Response to Information Request (28 February 2019). Italy: Grounds for revocation of the European Union (EU) residence permit for long-term residents (perrnesso di soggiomo UE per soggiomanti di lungo period also called perrnesso di soggiomo illimitata whether an individual who has lost their permit can apply to have it reinstated.”

37 Ibid, p.4.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid., p.2.

40 Minister’s Brief, para. 26.

41 Narrative, para. 35.

42 Ibid, para. 37.

43 Supra, note 35.

44 Ibid., p.5.

45 Ibid., Item 3.7, p.4

46 (1995), 32 Imm. L.R. (2d) 135 (F.C.).

47 Supra, Note 44.

48 Ibid, p.5, bull et 3.

49 Ibid, p.2, para. 3.

50 Supra, note 46.

Categories
All Countries Nigeria

2020 RLLR 161

Citation: 2020 RLLR 161
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 17, 2020
Panel: Zhanna Perhan
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Johnson Babalola
Country: Nigeria
RPD Number: TB9-25939
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-26027, TB9-25982, TB-26025, TB9-26026, TB9-26024
ATIP Number: A-2022-00210
ATIP Pages: 000147-000151

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER:    This is a decision for XXXX XXXX XXXX, file number TB9-25939, the principal claimant, his wife, the associate claimant, and their children the minor claimants.

[2]       I’ve had an opportunity to consider your testimony, examine the evidence before me, and I’m ready to render my decision orally. The claims were heard jointly in accordance with Rule 55. The principal claimant was appointed designated representative for the minor claimants.

[3]       You claim to be citizens of Nigeria save your daughter XXXX, the minor claimant, who is claiming to be a citizen of the U.S. You’re claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[4]       I find that all the claimants but the minor XXXX XXXX who is the U.S. citizen, are Convention refugees, as you have established that you face a serious possibility of persecution based on a Convention ground. For the principal claimant it is religion and for the associated minor claimants it is a particular social group as family members. With respect to your United States born daughter XXXX, however, there were no allegations raised with respect to persecution in the United States. I find that she is not a Convention refugee nor a person in need of protection. The reasons are as follows.

[5]       The allegations of your claim can be found in the principal claimant’s original and updated basis of claim forms in Exhibit 2 and 8. In summary, you, the principal claimant, allege persecution on the grounds of religion who as a Christian is unwilling to adhere to the traditionalist approaches of Ogboni Tubalasai (phonetic) cult which your family on your father’s side has practiced for many generations. You as the eldest son were first persuaded and then threatened and attacked alongside your family members to take up the chieftaincy title and continue the family tradition. The associated minor claimants, save the youngest U.S. born one, fear your family and the Ogboni cult as well, as they were threatened and attacked along with you as your family members. Your daughter who has a U.S. citizenship will be safe in the United States as no allegations were raised against it.

[6]       I find that your identities as nationals of Nigeria and for the minor claimant XXXX as a citizen of the U.S. have been established on a balance of probabilities through your testimony and through the supporting documents found in Exhibit 1. I find no reason to doubt the authenticity of those documents.

[7]       In terms of your general credibility, the principal and associate claimant you both testified today, I have found you to be credible witnesses. There were no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me. I also find that there were no embellishments made within your testimony. All the minor inconsistencies were explained either by you or in the submissions by your counsel. Therefore, I accept what you have alleged in support of your claim, including the following.

[8]       The principal claimant you were born to a family of an Ogboni chief. The traditionalist religion was a part of your father’s family for generations. Your mother and your siblings were not supporting the secretive traditionalist cult and you all were practicing Christianity. At his death bed back in 2013 your father confided in you and warned you against joining the Ogboni Tubalasai cult. You, the principal claimant, disobeyed the other Ogboni members and buried your father at your family’s burial plot which made the Ogboni very angry. In addition, during the meeting following your father’s death where you and your siblings were summoned you were given instructions on joining the cult to continue your father’s work as a chief. You declined, and although you were threatened you were given a year to consider, prepare, and respond positively.

[9]       At the one year anniversary of your after’s death you and your family returned to the village and (inaudible) the eiders of the Ogboni cult. You did not seeing their demands were still up but they met you with hostility and at night attacked you and your family at your father’s house. They wanted to force you to swear the oath but you were saved by your friends. You left the village right away, travelled back to Lagos, and the following day went to report the attack to the police, who did not provide any protection as it was called a family issue. In addition, you had to seek medical attention for one of your children as he was injured during the attack.

[10]     During 2014-2017 the position was to be filled. You were threatened regularly as the position of the XXXX XXXX was to be filled only by you, the principal claimant. The Ogboni members were looking for you for all these years. They called you regularly. They threatened you regularly. They were able to locate you in XXXX 2017 as they came to your residence in Lagos and tried to persuade you to take up the chieftaincy. Because you refused you feared that you could be attacked again.

[11]     You took your family to your mother’s house in Ogun State but you couldn’t stay there long. For the safety of your wife and children you moved them to your wife’s sister’s house in Lagos where they stayed until you were ready to leave Nigeria. You left Nigeria in XXXX 2018 with your family and you stayed in the U.S. until XXXX XXXX2019, came to Canada in XXXX 2019 to claim asylum here.

[12]     In support of your claim you provided documents in Exhibits 6 through 11, including affidavits from your friends, mother, sister, your wife’s sister, a letter from Ogboni chief which dates back to 2013, death certificates of your father and your elder brother, and other documents. I was notable to give some of these documents full weight as there were some issues on the face of the document, in particular the affidavits from your mother and your sister, which did not coincide with the information in the NDP, in particular Item 9.2. In his submissions your counsel spoke on the issues with the documents that I had. The counsel turned my attention to the cultural differences between Canada and Nigeria. In addition, he presented new evidence that apparently is not yet present in the NDP about the Nigerian Bar Association. In particular, he gave the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from 2015 which says that not having the MBA does not necessarily invalidate the document.

[13]     Having considered all the facts and submissions of your counsel, I was able to give full weight to all the documents before me, as they corroborate your written and oral testimony. I find on a balance of probabilities that you are credible witnesses. I am therefore satisfied that you have established your subjective fear.

[14]     The overall objective evidence supports your claims for Convention refugee protection. The national documentation package for Nigeria November 30th 2020 found in Exhibit 3 and the country conditions evidence submitted by your counsel in particular in Exhibits 6, 7, and 8, the NDP characterizes the Ogboni cult as a secret society or secret cult or even a criminal organization. It operates predominately in the Yoruba communities in the southwest according to the NDP Item 1.3. Although it is considered to be in decline the organization still has the capacity to locate former members anywhere in the country. According to the NDP membership though is generally voluntarily but not always especially for individuals with a close history of or personal knowledge about the cult. This is Item 1.13. Revealing information on Ogboni rituals can put individuals’ life at risk in the same item.

[15]     The principal claimant’s experiences with the cult are consistent with this evidence. Although, principal claimant, you were nota member of the cult, I find that you were closely connected to the cult through your late father and that you knew enough about their rituals and they were seeking to make you a XXXX XXXX of the cult and you refused to become a chief and that put your life at risk.

[16]     In addition to this information in the NDP, you also submitted some articles to the RPD in Exhibit 6 about incidents involving the Ogboni cult in Lagos State in particular where Ogboni threatened and killed those who refused the ritual. In his submissions your counsel also pointed out to the same Exhibit 6 and turned my attention that there is evidence that Ogboni operates not only inside but outside Nigeria and they have presence all over Africa.

[17]     Overall the objective country condition evidence supports the conclusion that you the principal and the associate claimant and your children, save your daughter the U.S. citizen, have an objective basis for your claim.

[18]     In order to establish that you are Convention refugees you must also prove that you do not have state protection and you cannot be adequately protected by the Nigerian police if you return to Nigeria. Based on both your evidence and on the evidence in the NDP I find that you will not have adequate state protection in Nigeria.

[19]     Principal claimant, you stated in your narrative and in your testimony that you tried to turn to police for protection but you did not receive any. The police did not want to interfere into what they believed was a family matter. The NDP addresses this issue of police protection for people who refuse to participate in ritual practices, in particular Item 10.8. It states that although protection ought to be available according to the constitution of Nigeria and legislation these laws are not always implemented in practice and that people who refuse ritual practices cannot necessarily rely on police to protect them. Officers are often part of the committee practicing the traditions and sympathetic to those communities and bribes may be required to secure some level of protection.

[20]     Taking all of this evidence into account I find there is clear and convincing evidence before me that you the claimants would not have adequate state protection against your agents of persecution in Nigeria.

[21]     With regards to possible viable internal flight alternative in Nigeria, there is evidence, which I already quoted, in the NDP that if the Ogboni cult desires to and is able to locate people it targets them anywhere in Nigeria. Given the attacks and the threats that you the principal claimant have already faced in Nigeria I find that you and your family are a target of this cult.

[22]     You testified that anywhere you and your family relocate in Nigeria you will have to restart your business to provide financially for your family. For that purpose you will need to advertise, you will need social media, telephone. Given that Ogboni presence is evident in Nigeria they will be able to locate you through media, through advertising, on a balance of probabilities. I also find it is more likely than not that the Ogboni have access to mobile phones, to the internet, and they can use these tools to find people throughout the country.

[23]     Ali of these evidence and argument, including the NDP evidence about the cult, the articles submitted in Exhibit 6, the argument about the advertising, use of social media to locate people, and the NDP evidence about the prevalence of use of mobile phone in Nigeria as also submitted in Exhibit 6, leads me to conclude that you, the claimants, do not have an IFA in Nigeria and you face a serious possibility of persecution anywhere you go in Nigeria.

[24]     So having considered all of the evidence, I find there is a serious possibility that you, the principal and associate claimant, and your children, the minor claimants, would face persecution in Nigeria pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so I find you to be Convention refugees. Your claims are therefore accepted.

[25]     As to your daughter XXXX XXXX the U.S. citizen and the minor claimant, her claim is denied for Section 96 and 97.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

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 ———-