11 July 2014

A new report by Asylum Aid, member of ECRE, shows that UK asylum decision makers regularly apply the Internal Protection Alternative (IPA) concept in a way which could be exposing vulnerable people to risk.

The concept of Internal Protection Alternative permits a country to refuse the applications of asylum seekers who are deemed to be at risk in their home area on the basis that can be reasonably expected to safely travel to and settle in another part of their country. However, the report finds that the concept of Internal Protection Alternative is regularly used in the UK where an asylum application has been deemed not to be credible in the first place, rather than as a protection alternative for someone with a well-founded fear of persecution in their home region. This logic ignores the fact that if they were at risk in one area, that risk may also apply elsewhere in the country, and this risk may not be adequately assessed.

In order for someone to be safe in another part of their country, effective protection from the persecution they fled in their home region must be available. The report shows that for certain vulnerable groups, however, social marginalisation or prevailing attitudes of the population and authorities of their country may impede access to protection.

In particular, the findings show that insufficient consideration is sometimes given to the difficulties that may be faced by single women or members of other marginalised groups such as LGBTI people in some parts of the world when applying this concept in practice.

The research found that the Internal Protection Alternative was not raised in asylum interviews, thereby not giving the applicant the opportunity of explaining why relocation to the proposed area may not be possible.

This research forms part of the ECRE coordinated project Actors of Protection and the application of the Internal Protection Alternative (APAIPA)’ which examines the use of these legal concepts in 11 selected EU Member States. A comparative report will be published later this year.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 11 July 2014.
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