Saturday, July 14, 2012

He—reasonable treatment of evidence on house churches versus state sanctioned churches

He v. Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2012 FC 148 (CanLII)

Judge: Justice Rennie; Date heard: January 17, 2012; Date decided: February 3, 2012; Counsel for He: Catherine Bruce; Counsel for Minister: Lldiko Erdei; Place of Hearing: Toronto, Ontario.

The applicant was a Chinese citizen and Christian, who attended an (illegal) house church. On a business trip to Canada, he was advised by his family back in China that the Public Security Bureau was looking for him. He made a claim for refugee status in February 2007, and it was denied in March 2009 because the Refugee Protection Division did not believe he was a Chinese citizen, and therefore rejected his claim without considering the merits (paras. 1-2)

The applicant filed a PRRA, and the PRRA officer accepted his identity as a citizen of China (para. 3). The PRRA officer also accepted that the applicant was a practicing Christian, however, the PRRA officer:

…concluded that the applicant had not put forth “objective documentary evidence to support that his profile in China is similar to those that currently face a danger of torture, or a risk to life, or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment in that country.”  The PRRA Officer further concluded that “the evidence before [him] does not support that the Chinese authorities are aware [that the applicant is a practicing Christian]”. (para. 5)

Justice Rennie relies on a decision of Justice Zinn on similar facts (Zhu v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2008 FC 1066). In that case, Justice Zinn had noted that it was an error “not to take into account the doctrinal differences between the state sanctioned churches and unregistered churches” (para. 12).

The PRRA officer relied on evidence of increasing tolerance towards members of stat-sanctioned churches, but failed to differentiate the fact that the applicant was a member of an illegal house church (paras. 13-14).

Justice Rennie also cited another case on similar facts, a decision of Justice Russell in Yin v Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2010 FC 544.

No comments: