Article 15(c) QD

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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.

GUIDANCE NOTE
Last updated: December 2020

Serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict

The necessary elements in order to apply Article 15(c) QD are:

Figure 3. Article 15(c) QD: elements of the assessment.
 

In order to apply Article 15(c) QD the above elements should be established cumulatively.

The following is a summary of the relevant conclusions concerning the situation in Afghanistan:

a. Armed conflict: Internal armed conflict within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD takes place in the territory of Afghanistan and the security situation in the country is volatile.

b. CivilianArticle 15(c) QD applies to a person who is not a member of any of the parties to the conflict and is not taking part in the hostilities, potentially including former combatants who have genuinely and permanently renounced armed activity. The applications by persons under the following profiles should be examined carefully. Based on an individual assessment, such applicants may be found not to qualify as civilians under Article 15(c) QD. For example:
 
 Insurgents / AGEs: members of armed groups pursuing political, ideological or economic objectives, such as the Taliban, ISKP, IMU, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda, Jundullah, as well as armed criminal groups directly engaged in hostile acts on behalf of a party.
 ANSF: including the ANA, parts of ANP, NDS, as well as ALP.
 PGMs: different paramilitary initiatives that have been developed and formalised to support the Afghan government and to assist the formal armed forces of Afghanistan, such as the Khost Protection Force.

It should be noted that actively taking part in hostilities is not limited to openly carrying arms but could also include substantial logistical and/or administrative support to combatants.

It is important to underline that the assessment of protection needs is forward-looking. Therefore, the main issue at hand is whether the applicant will be a civilian or not upon return. The fact that the person took part in hostilities in the past would not necessarily mean that Article 15(c) QD would not be applicable to him or her.

c. Indiscriminate violence: Indiscriminate violence takes place to a different degree in different parts of the territory of Afghanistan. The map below summarises and illustrates the assessment of indiscriminate violence per province. This assessment is based on a holistic analysis, including quantitative and qualitative information for the reference period (1 March 2019 - 30 June 2020). Up-to-date country of origin information should always inform the individual assessment.

Figure 4. Afghanistan, level of indiscriminate violence in a situation of armed conflict (based on data as of 30 June 2020).
 

No province in Afghanistan is currently assessed to reach such an exceptionally high level of violence that ‘mere presence’ on the territory would be considered sufficient in order to establish a real risk of serious harm under Article 15 (c) QD. [16]

For the purposes of the guidance note, the provinces of Afghanistan are categorised as follows:

 

Provinces where ’mere presence’ in the area would not be sufficient to establish a real risk of serious harm under Article 15(c) QD, however, indiscriminate violence reaches a high level, and, accordingly, a lower level of individual elements is required to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.
This includes the following provinces:
Balkh (except the capital city Mazar-e Sharif and the district of Marmul), Faryab, Ghazni, Helmand, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Zabul.

 

 

 

Provinces where indiscriminate violence is taking place, however not at a high level and, accordingly, a higher level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD
This includes the following provinces:

 

Provinces where indiscriminate violence is taking place at such a low level that in general there is no real risk for a civilian to be personally affected by reason of indiscriminate violence within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD. However, individual elements always need to be taken into account as they could put the applicant in risk-enhancing situations.
This includes the provinces Bamyan, Daikundi/Daykundi, Panjshir, and Samangan, as well as Herat City, Mazar-e Sharif and the district of Marmul.
 

 

 

d. Serious and individual threat: Certain applicants may be considered at enhanced risk of indiscriminate violence, including its direct and indirect consequences due to, inter alia: geographical proximity to areas which are targeted by violence, age, gender, health condition and disabilities, lack of a social network, etc.

Profiles at enhanced risk of indiscriminate violence could include, for example:

Civilians who lack the capacity to properly assess a situation and therefore expose themselves to risks related to indiscriminate violence (e.g. children – depending on their environment, family background, parents or guardians, and level of maturity; mentally disabled persons).
Civilians who are less able to avoid risks of indiscriminate violence by way of seeking temporary shelter from fighting or attacks (e.g. persons with disabilities or serious illnesses; those in an extremely dire economic situation).
Civilians who may be substantially and materially affected by violence because of their geographical proximity to a possible target (e.g. government buildings, police or military bases, places of worship).
 
Information about the methods and tactics used in a particular province or area within the province could further inform the individual assessment. For example, children may be particularly affected by unexploded remnants of war, and people originating from a contested area may be particularly affected by ground engagements and airstrikes, etc.

e. Threat to life or person: The risk of harm as per Article 15(c) QD is formulated as a ‘threat to a civilian’s life or person’ rather than as a (threat of) a specific act of violence. Some of the commonly reported types of harm to civilians’ life or person in Afghanistan include killings, injuries, abductions, disabilities caused by landmines, etc.

 
f. Nexus: The nexus ‘by reason of’ refers to the causal link between the indiscriminate violence and the harm (serious threat to a civilian´s life or person) and includes:
 
Harm which is directly caused by the indiscriminate violence or by acts that emanate from the actors in the conflict, and
Harm which is indirectly caused by the indiscriminate violence in a situation of armed conflict. Indirect effects are only considered to a certain extent and as long as there is a demonstrable link with the indiscriminate violence, for example: widespread criminal violence as a result of lawlessness, destruction of the necessary means to survive, destruction of infrastructure, denial of or limited access of humanitarian aid, limited access to healthcare facilities. Armed clashes and/or road blockages can also lead to food supply problems that cause famine or to limited or no access to healthcare facilities in certain regions in Afghanistan.


 

[16] The past update of the ‘Country Guidance: Afghanistan’ (June 2019) had found that ‘the degree of indiscriminate violence reaches such a high level in Nangarhar, except the capital city of Jalalabad, that substantial grounds are shown for believing that a civilian, returned to the province, would, solely on account of his or her presence on the territory of the province, face a real risk of being subject to the serious threat referred to in Article 15(c) QD.’ [back to text]
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