Internal Flight/Relocation/Protection Alternative: Is it Reasonable?

Kelley, Ninette
January 2002
International Journal of Refugee Law;Jan2002, Vol. 14 Issue 1, p4
Academic Journal
Internal flight alternative (IFA) is frequently engaged to deny refugee status to persons at risk of being persecuted in one part of their country, but who are considered able to find protection in another part. The concept is at times misapplied and inconsistently applied both within and across jurisdictions. This paper addresses these problems by identifying the procedural and substantive aspects of the IFA inquiry and setting out a framework of analysis that will render the IFA determination fair and rationally connected to the question of the availability of protection that the concept is meant to bear. While there is broad agreement that the focus of the inquiry is on whether the alternative locale is one where the claimant has protection, there is no consensus on what the notion of protection implies. Most jurisdictions view protection in the IFA as involving more than the absence of persecution there and employ a test of reasonableness: whether it is reasonable in all the circumstances to expect the asylum seeker to relocate in the proposed IFA. However, the absence of a common understanding of the test's parameters leads to inconsistencies. The indeterminacy of the reasonableness standard has prompted the development of alternative approaches. Those alternatives are discussed and why they are not adequate to satisfactorily remedy the problem. Assessment utilizing a standard of reasonableness based on a human rights benchmark should yield consistent jurisprudence in keeping with the protection function of the Convention and recognize the individual character of each asylum claim.


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