Citation: 2020 RLLR 92
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 21, 2020
Panel: Stéphane Hébert
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Jessica Lipes
Country: Saudi Arabia
RPD Number: MB8-20274
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000027-000034
REASONS FOR DECISION
 These are the reasons for the decision in the claim of [XXX], who claims to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia, and is claiming refugee protection pursuant to section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
 You allege the following: you have a friend named [XXX].
 You are a [XXX]-year-old male from Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, your parents and siblings are all in Jeddah with the exception of a brother who is living in California, United States of America (USA).
 When you were still seventeen years old, you were invited by your friend [XXX] to gather with a teenage group including boys and girls at his compound in Al Durrah Al Aros Beach, which is a residential area in Jeddah.
 This was a second home for [XXX] family, but that house was not their main residence.
 You alleged having been there in the past to gather with your friends and you never had a problem.
 You stated that your gathering was disrupted by four religious police assisted by two regular policemen who broke the door and handcuffed you, before taking you all in their truck and then to a religious police station.
 Once at the religious police station, the girls’ parents were called, they were released and picked up by their respective family while the boys including you were sent to prison.
 You and [XXX] were sent to Dar Al Moahaza prison and the other boys to Breman prison.
 You alleged that the other boys were released due to their family’s political influence while you and [XXX] remained detained.
 You were forced to study and memorized the Holy Koran and when you failed to properly answer, you were hit or beaten.
 You appeared to a Court along with [XXX] a month after your arrest. Being a minor and without legal representation, you were not allowed to speak, got sentenced one year of prison and were flogged 127 times.
 You benefitted from the Prince forgiveness and were allegedly released after 53 days, but not before you were flogged 127 times.
 Upon your release, you were treated at home by your mother and resume school following an agreement with the school direction, allowing you to finish your high school.
 Your family and yourself decided that it would be better for you to pursue your studies abroad considering this incident and you left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the USA in 2011.
 You obtained a University degree in [XXX], but during your stay in the USA, you returned only twice for one week each time as you did not like being there.
 Upon your return in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017 and after you had experienced religious freedom in the USA, you had more and more problems to comply with religious regulations.
 You had difficulties at Panasonic in Jeddah as you had been challenged on your religious belief or practice when it was time for the compulsory prayer.
 You have also been arrested and detained for a day and a half as a result of your nonconformity appearance, considering that wearing an earring in the Kingdom is not very common.
 Based on your previous arrest, detention and torture, while you were still a minor for simply being with teenagers of your age including boys and girls, you developed [XXX] and [XXX] since your return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as you did not feel secure anymore and considering that you could not easily surrender your freedom of conscience.
 On [XXX] 2018, you met [XXX], a childhood friend whom you have not seen for years.
 Your discussion deviated to the lifestyle in the USA compared to the prevailing in the Kingdom and you expressed criticism toward the religion and the government.
 Later on, you saw the same friend in a police uniform when on your way to the gym as you were driving your brother’s car, you were pulled aside and requested to accompany him to the station for further investigation.
 You immediately and spontaneously started running in order to escape and you went to your apartment where you received a call eventually from your brother saying that the police had already come to the family residence.
 Being already in possession of a valid US visa, you called a travel agency and booked the first flight for the USA the next day at 4:00PM.
 The next day, you rushed to the airport, waited for your flight and entered the USA the same day on [XXX] 2018.
 You testified that you simply wanted to leave your country at that time as you knew that with a previous police file, you would be mistreated due to your opinion toward religion and the Kingdom.
 You came to Canada on [XXX] 2018, after being in the USA for two days during which you had done research on the web and you claimed asylum.
 A warrant of arrest was issued against you on [XXX] 2018, while you were in Canada but was made aware of it on [XXX] 2020.
 You are fearful to go back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as you will be arrested and detained.
 I find that you are a refugee, pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA, as there exists a serious possibility of persecution, should you return to Saudi Arabia, on account of your: religion, political opinion.
 I find that your identity as a national of Saudi Arabia is established by the documents provided, namely your passport which was seized by the Canadian Border Services Agency and accordingly, you have met your burden.
 I find you to be a credible witness and therefore believe what you alleged in support of your claim.
 You testified in a straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in your testimony or contradictions between your testimony and the other evidence before me.
 Initially, the tribunal had to confront you on some interrogations pertaining to your subjective fears (failure to claim asylum in the USA and returns to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and the absence of supporting evidence concerning your conviction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
 The question of subjective fear was raised as I noted that you did not seek asylum in the USA where you studied from 2011 to 2017, and you returned to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia upon completing your University degree in the USA. However, the evidence indicates that you were only seventeen years old when you went to the USA and you testified that you had not made yet this decision to leave for ever your country, especially that you were missing your mother. This explanation seems reasonable in your alleged circumstances, especially the age factor and therefore does not raise significant concerns with respect to subjective fear or credibility
 I further note that Refugee Protection Division (RPD) rule 11 requires you to provide acceptable documents establishing elements of your claim, or a reasonable explanation indicating why they were not produced.
 You were indeed asked why you did not produce your court file and you stated that since you were a minor, your father had all the documents but forbid all discussions as they are still in Saudi Arabia and he is afraid of the repercussion of the family members, since it is of public knowledge that the Kingdom does not hesitate to pressure or persecute the remaining family members present in Saudi Arabia, to pressure the individual abroad to come back or comply with their request, and the claimant added that even his brother in California did not want to get involved and for the same reasons, did not issue any statement.
 Ultimately, the claimant declared that without his father’s collaboration, he simply could not provide any document pertaining to his past arrest and detention as he was a minor unrepresented and all the documents were in the hands of his father who did not want to collaborate as he was extremely fearful of the potential consequences over the security of the family present in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
 Moreover, during that period, a diplomatic crisis was opposing Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom spying attempts over their nationals in Canada were observed as it more fully appears from the objective documentary evidence.
 I therefore find the explanation to be reasonable and coherent with the objective evidence.
 Finally, the following evidence establishes your allegations as set out above the warrant of arrest issued by the State (Exhibit 4, item E-19). After reviewing the said document, I have no reasons to doubt its authenticity. Consequently, considering the testimonial evidence and this supporting evidence, the tribunal may easily conclude that shall you return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, you will be arrested and detained.
 Given that there are no serious credibility issues with respect to your allegations, coupled with the documentary evidence set out below, I find that you have established a prospective risk of being subjected to the following harm(s): arrest, detention and torture.
 This risk is corroborated by the following documents:
The DOS Report for 2019 (Exhibit 3- item 2.1) mentions:
“The law also penalizes anyone who challenges, either directly or indirect/y, the religion or justice of the king or crown prince(…).”
“Statements that authorities construed as constituting defamation of the king, monarchy, governing system, or Al Saud family resulted in criminal charges for citizens advocating government reform.”
Significant human rights issues included unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offences; forced disappearances; torture of prisoners and detainees by government agents; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; arbitrary interference with privacy; criminalization of libel, censorship, and site blocking; restrictions on freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and movement; severe restrictions of religious freedom; citizens’ lack of ability and legal means to choose their government through free and fair elections; trafficking in persons; violence and official discrimination against women, although new women’s rights initiatives were implemented; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity; and prohibition of trade unions.”
 The Human Right Watch Report (Exhibit 3, item 2) states that:
“Surveillance is extensive inside Saudi Arabia, and even Saudis living abroad are vulnerable ta spying. In October, the University of Toronto’s citizen Lab found surveillance software on the phone of Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada who was in regular contact with Khashoggi before this assassination”.
 The Saudi Arabia World Report 2020 Events of 2019 from Human Right Watch (Exhibit 3, items 2-5) corroborated similarly situation for minor under the penal justice in Saudi Arabia in the following terms:
“Saudi Arabia applies Sharia (Islamic law) as its national law. There is no formal penal code, but the government has passed some laws and regulations that subject certain broadly defined offences ta criminal penalties. In the absence of a written penal code or narrowly-worded regulations, however, judges and prosecutors can convict people on a wide range of offences under broad, catch-all charges such as “breaking allegiance with the ruler” or “trying to distort the reputation of the kingdom.” Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest.”
 Finally, the Report from Saudi Arabia: Freedom of the World from Freedom House 2019 (Exhibit 3, items 2-4), is well describing the socio-political reality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
“Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy restricts almost all political rights and civil liberties. No officials at the national level are elected. The regime relies on extensive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power. Women and religious minorities face extensive discrimination in law and in practice. Working conditions for the large expatriate labor force are often exploitative.”
 The above stated objective evidence is describing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a theocracy which persecute all forms of dissidence.
Nature of the harm
 I have examined your claim under section 96 of the IRPA, as I conclude that the risk you describe constitutes persecution based on at least one of the grounds prescribed in section 96, specifically your religion and political opinion.
 In light of the preceding, I conclude that you are a refugee, pursuant to section 96 of the IRPA. Accordingly, I accept your claim.