Following on from the new lines to take on Sudanese asylum claims that I wrote about in July, the Home Office has now produced evidence in an effort to support the change in policy.
Officials have been arguing recently that while non-Arabs are likely to be at risk in the Darfur region, not all are at risk in the capital Khartoum and relocation may be possible depending on the particular facts of the case. The department has now published a Report of a fact-finding mission to Khartoum, Sudan.
The mission itself took place in the middle of August, after the change in policy. Read into that what you may.
The terms of reference were to examine the ethnic demography of Khartoum, the treatment and situation of those from Darfur — including internally displaced persons, freedom of movement and the treatment of those returning to Sudan.
The clear purpose of the report is to provide evidence to overcome previous County Guidance cases, an agenda that is evident from matters the witnesses were asked to consider:
Also ask sources to consider if there has been a change in state attitudes and treatment overtime, in particular since 2008/9 (when Country Guidance (CG) case of AA promulgated and 2015/2016 (when GC of MM promulgated, first FFM).
The executive summary says:
Darfuris do not generally face direct societal discrimination from other Sudanese or are treated differently from other groups, although tribes appear to generally favour their own group.
While arrests of individual Darfuris occur and larger numbers may be arrested during during demonstrations, there are not wide-scale arrests of Darfuris based on ethnicity alone as was the case in 2008 following the JEM attack on Omdurman. However, if arrested, Darfuris may face racial abuse and ill-treatment by the police and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and are likely to be treated worse than other Sudanese groups once in detention.
I’m sure that Presenting Officers will be referring to the report as evidence that non-Arab Darfuris are safe in Khartoum, but practitioners will want to examine what the witnesses say in detail.
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For example, the evidence suggests that there has been a population of non-Arab Darfuris in Khartoum before the problems in in Darfur started in 2004. It is sometimes not clear if the witnesses are talking about treatment of these, or those who are IDPs from the Darfur camps who are viewed as rebels and opposition by the government. What is clear is that Darfuri students, in particular those who are politically active, attract adverse attention from the authorities.
I haven’t yet seen any criticism of the report’s findings or methodology as we saw with the reports on Eritrea in 2015, but the report was only published a few days ago.
I would recommend anyone representing Sudanese individuals from Darfur to read the full report thoroughly and forensically examine the evidence that is presented. Ultimately though it will be the Upper Tribunal who will have the final say.