This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.
This profile refers to members of the Afghan security forces (ANSF), including the Afghan National Army (ANA), the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), as well as the Afghan Local Police (ALP), as well as members of pro-government militias (PGMs).
ANSF personnel on duty or off-duty alike are a frequent target of insurgent attacks and are considered priority targets for the Taliban. In January 2019, President Ghani stated that more than 45 000 members of the security forces have been killed since he took office in 2014. After the Doha Agreement in February 2020, the Taliban have increased their attacks on government forces, mainly in rural areas. Such attacks have occurred at places where ANSF personnel gather, for example, at army bases, police stations and checkpoints. ANSF members are reportedly singled out and targeted while travelling on the road, for example at mobile checkpoints of AGEs. Targeting may also take place in the form of deliberate killings and abductions, which are explicitly legitimised by the Taliban Layeha (code of conduct). According to the Layeha, the Taliban are instructed to make ANSF members surrender and/or join the group. The Layeha delegates Ta’ziri (punishment) authority to the Imam, deputy Imam, provincial judge or in their absence to the provincial governor to order the execution of an allegedly guilty ANSF detainee or any other employee/official of the Government arrested by the group. The AGEs have also been reported to use torture against detainees, including ANSF personnel [Anti-government elements, 1.2.1, 2.5, 2.6.1; State structure, 2.1; Security situation 2020, 1.1.1, 1.3, 1.5.2].
Available sources indicate that officers of NDS, members of PGMs and police chiefs are most frequently targeted by the Taliban [Security situation 2020, 1.2.1, 1.3.3, 1.3.4, 2; Anti-government elements, 2.6; Conflict targeting, 1.2.1].
It is also reported that the Taliban often threaten and target female security officers [Anti-government elements, 220.127.116.11].
Individuals under this profile are also seen as legitimate target by other insurgent groups, for example the ISKP and foreign anti-government elements [Security situation 2020, 1.2.2, 1.5.2].
It should be noted that family members of security forces have also been targeted by insurgents. Moreover, family members are often pressured to convince their relative to give up his or her position in the security forces. There are also reports of former members of the ANSF who have been targeted after having left the ANSF [Anti-government elements, 2.6.1; Conflict targeting, 1.3.1, 1.4.1].
Certain risks for members of security forces are inherent to their duties and the activities they take part in, and those would not amount to persecution or serious harm. However, risks outside the performance of their duties, could be of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. targeted killing outside of fighting, abduction, torture).
In the case of individuals that are most frequently targeted (e.g. officers of NDS, members of PGMs and police chiefs), well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated.
In the case of other individuals under this profile, the individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: area of work and visibility of the applicant, gender, area of origin and presence of insurgent groups (in particular, in relation to insurgents’ checkpoints), period since leaving the forces, personal enmities, etc.
Family members of some individuals under this profile could also be at risk of treatment that would amount to persecution.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is for reasons of (imputed) political opinion.
Exclusion considerations could be relevant to this profile (see 6. Exclusion).