AE (Relocation-Darfur-Khartoum an option) Sudan  UKAIT 00101
Date of hearing: 19 April 2005
Date Determination notified: 3 May 2005
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
Internal relocation in the Khartoum area is an option for those fleeing from Darfur. The available evidence does not show that on any such relocation every Darfurian faces a real risk of persecution or ill treatment contrary to article 3
"It seems to me clear when this appellant's past experiences are placed in context of the current background material that there is a real risk of the appellant suffering ill-treatment amounting to persecution and a breach of Article 3 in the Darfur area now. Members of his close family have suffered terribly in the past. The situation in the Darfur area is still dire. The ill-treatment he risks suffering is on account of his race and so falls within the terms of the Refugee Convention."
Material Error of Law
38. That leaves the question of internal relocation. Mrs Ahmed submitted that the background material shows that the Massaleit do not suffer at the hands of the authorities out with the Darfur area. I agree. The background material shows that there are many displaced people from Darfur living elsewhere in Sudan. This however appears to me to raise a difficult issue. I shall explain.
39. Underlying the whole question of refugee status is surrogate protection. In the normal course a person living in an area of a country where he is at risk of persecution at the hands of non state agents who act with impunity in that area can be expected to relocate to another safe area of the country still controlled by the government, if such an area exists, as the government will protect him in that other area. That provides the paradigm example of internal relocation. The situation however in Darfur appears to me to be far removed from this.
40. In Darfur Arab militias are attacking black Africans such as the Massaleit. These Arab militias were the source of the ill-treatment endured by the Appellant's family. What distinguishes this from the typical example I set out earlier is that there appears to me on the background evidence, at the very least, a real risk that these Arab militias are acting with the support and the complicity of the Sudanese Government. In these circumstances does internal relocation to another area of Sudan have any part to play? The answer to this, in my view, can be found be examining the persecution which this appellant risks facing. It is more than a risk of persecution by Arab militias. It is a risk of persecution by Arab militias acting with the support of the government.
41. I return to the United Nations News document of 23rd June 2004. That states that a UN Human Rights Report has found many human rights violations in the Darfur area including ethnic displacement. The United Nations News Bulletin of 2nd April 2004 talks of forced depopulation of entire areas. On the whole evidence there appears to me to be a real risk that forced depopulation is one of the aims of the Arab militias. As I have said there also appears to me at the very least a real risk that the Arab militias are acting with the support and complicity of the Sudanese government. There appears to me to be something fundamentally flawed in the suggestion that in such circumstances the Appellant should be expected to relocate to Khartoum or some other area in Sudan rather than seeking surrogate protection of the international community. By moving to another area of Sudan he could not be said to be obtaining the protection of the government against the persecution sponsored by the same government in Darfur. At best, it seems to me, all that could be said is that the Appellant would have moved to an area where his persecutors have no interest in him and would have gone along with one of his persecutors' objectives namely that he and his kind be displaced from the area where he once lived. To go along with the wishes of his persecutors may result in his being safe but it is far removed from his obtaining protection from his persecutors. I find support for these conclusions in the Michigan Guidelines on the internal protection alternative and Macdonald, Immigration Law Practice paragraph 12.43.
42. In my view therefore internal relocation has no part to play in the circumstances of this appeal."
Submissions on Error of Law
Conclusions on Error Law
"Relocation Within County of Origin.
Where it appears that the persecution is clearly confined to a specific part of the country's territory, it may be necessary in order to check that the condition laid down in Article 1 a of the Geneva Convention has been fulfilled, namely that the person concerned is ""is unable or owing to such fear (of persecution), is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country,"" to ascertain whether the person concerned cannot find effective protection in another part of his own country, to which he may reasonably be expected to move".
This issue has been considered jurisprudentially on many occasions in many jurisdictions. The leading UK cases are R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Robinson  QB 929 as reconsidered and further interpreted in the light of the Human Rights Act 1998 in AE and FE v Secretary of State for the Home Department  INLR 475 CA.
Internal Relocation in Sudan: IAT Decisions
"We feel nonetheless that the claimant could be returned without being at risk of Article 3 harm even if it meant he would have to be placed in an internal displacement camp in Khartoum. Approximately 1.8 million internally displaced persons are living around Khartoum and the Norwegian Report makes it plain their conditions are difficult. What the Report also makes plain, however, if that their conditions cannot be said to be inhumane or degrading. Employment is scarce and there is much poverty but there are health facilities and water facilities for those who live in camps and for approximately 70% of the IDPs in Khartoum there is access to some form of medical service".
The Tribunal relied on a Norwegian Refugee Council's profile of Internal Displacement on Sudan dated 19th May 2004 which as the Tribunal pointed out "…contains a very large amount of material relating to the position of displaced persons in Sudan gathered over the last two or three years."
"Such persons may be placed in camps for the internally displaced and would likely be compelled to contend with harsh living conditions and physical insecurity".
"There is no evidence to show that (the claimant) would be at real risk of finding himself in a camp for displaced persons. Even if he did, the UNHCR letter contains no assertion that conditions in a camp for the internally displaced, albeit involving harsh living conditions and physical insecurity, would be such as to cross the high threshold applied for Article 3".
"Internally displaced persons from Darfur also often face protection risks, including forced relocation, forced return. We do not find that the heightened risk of scrutiny is enough to amount to persecution in breach of Article 3 of the ECHR. The appellant was not a student. We note that the UNHCR cited only one example of the authorities moving into a camp to evict residents and forcibly relocating them to the outskirts of Khartoum. This one example does not show that evictions are being systematically carried out on all the camps and does not make it a real risk".
"The UNHCR describes the conditions as precarious. This limited information is insufficient to lead to a finding that the conditions in the camp amount to a breach of Article 3 or that the displaced persons in those camps are persecuted by reason of their ethnicity by the authorities who run the camps."
"We find it entirely plausible that someone who has been away from Sudan for a long time will be questioned and may be required to make tax payments in foreign currency but that could not amount to persecution and we see no reason to suppose that this would place a person at the risk of Article 3 harm.
At paragraph 17, it added:
"We are further not aware of any information that shows that the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum are treating returning southerners in such a way as to put them at real risk of Article 3 harm".
"There is no evidence to show that at the present time being a person who originates from southern Sudan is such as to put him or her at real risk on return to Khartoum."
(i) We accept the appellant is likely to be questioned at the airport on his return to Sudan in view of his ethnic and linguistic characteristics.
(ii) The objective information does not lead us to find that he is likely to be at risk of persecution or ill-treatment which reaches to the threshold of Article 3 as the result of the questioning."
The Background Information
"Despite an encouraging government initiative to grant land to IIDPs in Khartoum the actual way this process has been carried out has raised serious concerns about the government's commitment to the project as thousands of displaced families have been left homeless. Out of some 2 million IDPs in greater Khartoum the vast majority are living in squatter areas and about 270,000 are settled in four overcrowded camps … By November 2004 80% of the IDPs were living in improvised shelters and many were forced to return to the south as a consequence of the demolitions."
"..arrests have been carried out mostly of suspected supporters of opposition groups including Darfuris from African ethnic groups accused of sympathising with the armed groups".
Further it refers to the existence of ghost houses and the fact that those who are detained there "are mainly political opposition party members or supporters".
Further it says:
"It is difficult to keep track of people returned of people returned to Sudan and we do not have reports of persons returning/deported to Sudan being arrested. Over the last couple of year's high profile politically active individuals have travelled to the centre without any particularly significant instances being reported. However, this is not a guarantee of safety for others."