Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law

Contemporary Issues in Refugee Law

Edited by Satvinder Singh Juss and Colin Harvey

Refugee law is going through momentous times, as dictatorships tumble, revolutions simmer and the ‘Arab Awakening’ gives way to the spread of terror from Syria to the Sahel in Africa. This compilation of topical chapters, by some of the leading scholars in the field, covers major themes of rights, security, the UNHCR, international humanitarianism and state interests and sets out to map new contours.

Chapter 10: Internal relocation alternative in refugee status determination: is the risk/protection dichotomy reality or myth? A gendered analysis

Rebecca Wallace

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law


Currently the division of opinion is as to whether justification for the withholding of recognition of refugee status from a person at risk of being persecuted in one part of a country but not in another is to be found in the ‘well-founded’ element or in the words ‘protection of that country’. In short, the issue is whether the analysis is one of risk or one of protection. In the United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union the analysis is referenced to the former whereas in New Zealand and in Canada it is referenced to the latter. This statement, of the New Zealand Refugee Status Appeals Authority (SAA), encapsulates a divergence of practice that purportedly exists between jurisdictions when deliberating internal relocation as an alternative to granting refugee status. However whether this ‘perceived risk versus sufficiency of protection’ dichotomy is as manifest as suggested is disputable, which this chapter will discuss through examining refugee decisions concerning gender-based persecution. Changes in the typical refugee profile have led to an increase in refugee status decision-makers considering the possibility of internal relocation (also referred to as internal flight or protection) as an alternative to surrogate international protection. However, historically different emphasis has been placed on the factors regarding the feasibility of internal relocation. As such, different decision-making bodies apparently tend to accentuate either the perceived risk a claimant faces in his or her own country, or on the sufficiency of the protection offered by his or her own state.

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