Skip to main content

1.1. The Afghan State and pro-government elements



Please note that this country guidance document has been replaced by a more recent one. The latest versions of country guidance documents are available at

Last updated: December 2020

Afghan State actors include, for example, members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and other authorities from the three State branches (executive, legislative and judiciary). Pro-government militias (PGMs) are also considered State actors.

The ANSF or Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) are comprised of the Afghan National Army (ANA), including the Afghan Border Force, Afghan Air Force, Afghan National Civil Order Force and the recently established Afghan Territorial Army as local security force, the Afghan National Police (ANP), including the Afghan Local Police (ALP)[21] and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), including the Afghan Special Forces [State structure, 2.1; Security situation 2020, 1.2.1].

Afghan State authorities and their associates are reported to have committed a wide range of human rights violations. Sources report on extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment by all Afghan security forces. Moreover, family members of Taliban fighters were intentionally killed by ANSF in retaliation for Taliban attacks against them. High level of civilian harm from the use of force during search operations (‘night raids’) by NDS Special Forces was also documented, including the intentional killing of civilians, some of which amounted to summary executions [Security situation 2020, 1.2.1; State structure, 2.1.4].

In addition, the ANP have been involved in extortion and organised crime, in particular near key smuggling routes. Recruitment and sexual exploitation of boys (bacha bazi) committed by Afghan security forces, in particular by the ALP was also observed [State structure, 2.1.4; Security situation 2020, 1.2.1; see also the section 2.10.1 Violence against children: overview].

Different State agents such as ministers, governors and ANSF personnel are reported to have acted beyond the scope of their legal authority. Moreover, police and judicial authorities are susceptible to the influence of powerful individuals [Conflict targeting, 2; Key socio-economic indicators 2017,, 3.5.3, 3.5.4].

A number of PGMs are still fighting on the side of the government against Taliban and ISKP, although the government disbanded militia groups and stopped paying them. Such militias include the Kandahar Strike Force, Paktika’s Afghan Security Guards, the Khost Protection Force and Shaheen Forces in Paktya, Paktika and Ghazni provinces. Pro-government armed groups caused civilian casualties and were responsible for conflict-related abductions, mainly in the context of ground engagements and search operations. There are also long-standing allegations against the Khost Protection Force of extrajudicial killings, torture, beating and unlawful detentions [Security situation 2020, 1.2.1].

The Afghan government does not control the whole territory of the State, some parts are under the control of insurgent groups, in particular the Taliban (see Overview: areas of control). However, the State is able to target individuals throughout the territory and it is particularly found to target individuals in areas where control is contested [Conflict targeting,, 2.4]. For further information regarding contested areas, see the section Article 15(c) QD below.

P1044#yIS1For further information on human rights violations committed by the Afghan State and pro-government elements and their relevance as potential exclusion grounds, see 6. Exclusion.




[21] The ALP was to be dissolved by September 2020 [State structure, 2.1.3]. No further information on its status was available in the COI reports consulted for the purposes of this update. [back to text]