According to the UN Convention internal flight "refers to a specific area of the country where there is no risk of a well-founded fear of persecution and where, given the particular circumstances of the case, the individual could reasonably be expected to establish him/herself and live a normal life." Indeed, the Convention "does not require or even suggest that the fear of being persecuted need always extend to the whole territory of the refugee’s country of origin." Simply put, the Convention recognizes that if a would be refugee claimant can flee a threat to their existence by relocating to another part of their country then expecting a refugee to peruse this option instead of seeking sanctuary in another country is not unreasonable.
The recognition of internal flight by the Convention is to help prevent what is known as ""asylum shopping." Asylum shopping is exactly how it sounds. It is the shopping around for nations to find the best positive outcome for one's refugee claim. A recent example occurred here in Canada in 2009 when 76 Sri Lankan Tamils by-passed the United States and Australia, two signatory nations to the UN Convention Relating To The Status of Refugees, to specifically land on Canada's western shore. It was also found that some aboard the boat were already denied refugee protection in the U.K. which is also another practice of asylum shopping: the repeated attempt to seek refugee status in multiple countries to see who will bite. As a signatory nation to the Convention Canada would not be in violation of it if it turned away refugee claimants the nation felt that internal flight was a viable option open to them but, for whatever reason, failed to act on it.
What prompted this post was this one sided Toronto Star article on a group of Mexican activists' fear that their country may be considered a safe country by Canada to return Mexican refugee claimants to. If internal flight is a possibility to find safety, of which it most likely is in Mexico, then Mexico is a safe country to return refugees to.
Much of the news out of Mexico is negative and concerns itself with the drug cartels and the violence inherent to the drug trade. That's because if it bleeds it leads. The impression given is a country lost in lawless chaos where nowhere and no one is safe. But that's not true.
According to some ex-pat Canadians living in Mexico they consider most of the country safer than Toronto. In comparison to its neighbours and some U.S. cities Mexico is a lot safer.
For proof, Lopez-Negrete rolls out the statistics, derived from a combination of government and non-government sources: Of 2,500 municipalities (what we call counties), only 80, or fewer than 5 percent, have been affected by the drug war, which accounts for only 3 percent of all crime. Mexican cities are also safer than some urban centers north of the border: Mexico City, for example, has 8.3 homicides a year per 100,000 people. That's fewer than Miami (14.1) and Chicago (16.1). On a global scale, Mexico is safer than many of its neighbors. In 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported Mexico's homicide rate as 11.6 per 100,000, significantly lower than Honduras (60.9), Jamaica (59.5) or El Salvador (51.8).In Mexico, like in many U.S. cities and even Canadian ones, if you want to avoid trouble there are places you just do not go to and escape as soon as possible by relocating to somewhere else in the city or country. By doing so you exercise internal flight.
The Mexican activists in the Toronto Star article are alleging the systemic oppression by the Mexican government of it citizens but I do not see it. The piece mentions some disappearances, some corrupt behaviour by Mexican soldiers and officials, but nowhere does it establish that these crimes are sanctioned by the government. These crimes seem to be opportunistic and may be linked to the drug trade in some fashion. But is crime enough to warrant a refugee claim? No, not in and of itself and especially no, if they can flee it by relocating internally. Mexicans are not cold-war era pro-democracy activists operating in eastern Europe and deemed enemies of the state. If we are to entertain Mexican refugee claims on the basis that they are fleeing crime then we might as well grant asylum to the inhabitants of the inner city of the U.S.'s most run-down urban centres. It's as if someone living in a poor, crime infested area of Detroit were to opt to make a refugee claim at the Detroit/Windsor border crossing instead of moving out of the city and to another part of the state or country. It would be laughable if we did because we know well enough that they can simply move somewhere else in the county to find relative safety. And so it goes for the majority of Canada's refugee claims.
Incidentally, Canada does receive many of its refugee claims at the US/Canada border which brings me to another concept covered in the Convention: the notion of the safe third country. A "safe third country" is a country considered safe that the refugee had to pass through in order to arrive at their destination. Since the U.S. is a signatory nation to the UN Convention it's a "safe third country" by all accounts. As is most of Europe. And since the majority of Canada's inland refugee claims arrive here via Europe or the U.S., Canada could, technically, turn them away and expect them to make their asylum claims in the countries where they can first find relative safety.
Canada could exercise these concepts and still meet its obligations to the world's refugees by vetting them abroad. This is cheaper and more efficient since it circumvents the parasitic legal professions and does away with the costly IRB. while getting at genuine refugees and not entertaining the self-selecting immigrant kind we have been so generous to these past decades.
Of course, this is all difficult to do thanks to the Singh decision of 1985 which was only possible, I might add, due to a poorly worded Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms; a document, it seems, written by lawyers for lawyers. But it does allow for the execution of the notwithstanding clause which if invoked will grant the government the power to reverse the Singh decision.
This is what the government should do but strangely enough Jason Kenney has stated that he has no intent on revisiting the decision. I find this odd since it's the very root of the mess of our refugee system. What we get instead is the Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act which will allow the Immigration Minister to designate countries of his or her choosing as safe given those countries satisfy certain conditions. This just dodges the issue and makes the mess even messier with more layers of bureaucracy and avenues for lawsuits. The list itself will also be politically sensitive and subject to manipulation influenced by ethnic-vote buying politics. However to its credit it does recognize the concept that one can find safety within his or her homeland negating relocation to Canada so I guess I'll have to be satisfied with that for now.