The new ECRE research – in partnership with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee – highlights the need for more reasoned assessments of Internal Protection Alternative and Actors of Protection.
A comparative report by ECRE shows that even ten years after the adoption of the Qualification Directive, the application of the concepts of internal protection alternative (IPA) and actors of protection is still not harmonised among Member States and still gives rise to concerns with regard to its compatibility with human rights. In this project ECRE and its partners examined how these two concepts are applied both at the administrative and judicial level in 11 Member States selected: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The internal protection alternative is a popular concept amongst asylum authorities that allows rejecting the application of an applicant if he/she is found not to be in need of international protection in a certain part of his/her country of origin. The research found that the application of IPA may be problematic in many instances, since the decision to rely upon the IPA was not fully and individually reasoned, lacking a proper identification of the region of relocation. The wrong assessment of the IPA can result in transferring the burden of proof being to the applicant, for example by requiring the applicant to prove that no IPA exists anywhere in his/her country of origin.
The study also examined the application of both concepts to vulnerable groups. Consideration of factors affecting vulnerable groups was carried out in most countries but on a case-by-case basis rather than as a consistent policy. There was a more consistent policy in most Member States with regard to unaccompanied children; generally they would not be expected to relocate internally if they did not have close family in the region of relocation.
The project was coordinated by ECRE in partnership with the Asylum Aid (UK), Dutch Council for Refugees and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
The comparative report is available in English here.
The executive summary of the report can be dowloaded here.