This application was for #judicial_review of a decision of the #Refugee_Appeal_Division [the #RAD] of the #Immigration_and _Refugee_Board_of_Canada [the Board] dated November 19, 2020 [the Decision], in which it dismissed the Applicants’ appeal from a decision of the Refugee Protection Division [the RPD] of the Board denying their refugee claims.

[1] … The Applicants are a mother [the Principal Applicant] and her adult son [the Associate Applicant]. They are citizens of Nigeria. The RAD Member dismissed their appeal on the basis that they have a viable internal flight alternative [IFA] in Nigeria in either Abuja or Port Harcourt.

[4]The Principal Applicant claims to fear for her safety at the hands of her Husband’s father and brothers because of her refusal to allow her daughter to undergo female genital mutilation [FGM].

[5]The Associate Applicant fears persecution by the Black Axe cult. Its members attacked him in August 2017 and a month later killed one of his friends.

The RAD Member found that the determinative issue was the availability of an IFA and that, as a result, issues of credibility and state protection, which had been decided by the RPD, did not need to be addressed.

 

[7] The RAD Member applied the two pronged test articulated in Rasaratnam v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1992] 1 F.C. 706 (C.A.). It reads:

  1. …the Board must be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that there is no serious possibility of the claimant being persecuted in the part of the country to which it finds an IFA exists.

  2. Moreover, conditions in the part of the country considered to be an IFA must be such that it would not be unreasonable, in all the circumstances including those particular to the claimant, for him to seek refuge there.

IV. The Issues

  1. Was it unreasonable of the RAD Member to find that the Applicants had IFAs when the RPD had not found one for the Daughter?
  2. Was it unreasonable of the RAD Member to conclude that the Husband’s family lacked the motive and means to find the Applicants when the RPD had concluded that they did have the motive and means to find the Daughter?
  3. Was it unreasonable of the RAD Member to conclude that because the Husband was not attacked by his family, the Applicant would be treated in the same way and would not be at risk of violence?
  4. Was it unreasonable of the RAD Member to ignore the Associate Applicant’s evidence that he was in hiding in Lagos for the year in which he was not attacked by cult members?
  5. Was it unreasonable of the RAD Member to ignore evidence that the Black Axe cult operated on university campuses in the IFA cities?
  6. Was it unreasonable of the RAD to conclude that the Principal Applicant could support herself and her son?
  7. Was it unreasonable of the RAD to conclude that the Applicant could avail herself of mental health services in the IFA locations?

V. Discussion and Conclusions

A. Issues 1 and 2

[14] The RPD did not provide any analysis of risk when it concluded that the Daughter did not have an IFA in Nigeria. It simply concluded that she could not relocate alone. Further, when the RPD concluded that the Daughter would face a risk from her father’s family if she returned to Nigeria, it is clear that this statement was made in the context of her returning to Lagos. There was no discussion of her risk in any other locations.

[15] Further, the RPD’s statements about the Daughter’s potential IFA and risk were unsupported by any analysis. It was therefore reasonable of the RAD to disregard the RPD’s findings when independently considering the Applicant’s potential IFAs. This is particularly the case given that the Daughter, who is now safe in Canada, and who was the focus of the Husband’s family’s actions, would not be with the Applicants in the IFA locations. Accordingly, the issue of FGM for the Daughter was no longer a motivation for the Husband’s family to locate the Principal Applicant, and there was nothing in the documentary evidence to suggest that there would be retaliation for her opposition to FGM.

B. Issue 3

[16] The fact that the evidence showed that families who supported FGM shunned parents who did not was borne out by the way the Husband’s family treated him. It was reasonable of the RAD Member to note that fact, particularly in circumstances as described above in which there was no longer any prospect of FGM. Further, the documentary evidence did not indicate that spouses who were not blood relatives were treated differently.

C. Issue 4

[17] There is no evidence that the Associate Applicant was in hiding in the year before he left Lagos. However, he did testify that he kept a low profile and did not attend school or work. It was unreasonable of the RAD to ignore this when relying on the fact that he was not attacked by the cult. However, in my view this error was not material. The finding about the son’s risk was based on the documentary evidence that said that risk of unwanted attention from cults could be avoided by changing universities.

D. Issue 5

[18] The Associate Applicant did testify before the RPD that the Black Axe cult operated in universities in Port Harcourt and Abuja. However, the RAD Member reasonably found that this fact was not sufficient to create a risk that he would be identified and targeted in those universities because he had refused to join the cult in Lagos. The documentary evidence clearly stated that the way to escape unwanted attention from campus cults was to change universities. There was no suggestion that the cults in various locations communicated with one another about students who had failed to join their ranks.

E. Issue 6

[19] In my view, it was reasonable of the RAD to conclude on the available evidence that the Applicant could support herself and her son given her business experience as a self-employed beverage distributor. On her US visa application, the Principal Applicant noted that when self-employed she made 400,000 naira per month. The Principal Applicant did not dispute this monthly income figure before the RPD or the RAD and did not provide any evidence to relate it to the cost of living in the IFA locations.


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