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Please note that this country guidance document has been replaced by a more recent one.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 /country-guidance.

Last updated: December 2020

Human rights violations, which could amount to persecution or serious harm, are also committed by other non-State actors, such as clans, tribes, (locally) powerful individuals, family members, criminal groups, etc.

Customs and customary law in the Afghan society can result in a number of harmful traditional practices, such as forced marriage and family violence against women, including the so-called ‘honour killings’ committed by family members [Society-based targeting, 3.4 - 3.7; Criminal law and customary justice, 3; see also the profiles 2.11 Women, 2.14 LGBTIQ, 2.12 Individuals perceived to have transgressed moral codes, etc.].

Non-State traditional justice, which is dominant in large parts of Afghanistan, involves different actors such as jirgas and shuras, including religious scholars, jurists, community elders and local powerbrokers, etc. Certain human rights violations are associated with such traditional justice mechanisms, including in relation to the absence of due process and the nature of the imposed punishments. [Criminal law and customary justice, 1.7; Society-based targeting, 1.5, 6.4; Conflict targeting, 2.6].

Other human rights violations committed by non-State actors can be a consequence of land disputes between different actors, such as communities (including tribes and clans), ethnic groups or individuals, or can be a result of blood feuds or other forms of private disputes [Criminal law and customary justice, 2, 3; Society-based targeting, 1.5, 6.4, 7; see also the profile 2.18 Individuals involved in blood feuds and land disputes].

Criminal groups and individuals committing crimes can also be non-State actors of persecution or serious harm in accordance with Article 6(c) QD. It is reported, for example, that kidnapping for ransom and extortion have become an increasingly widespread form of criminality in major cities in Afghanistan in recent years [Security situation 2020 , 1.4.2; Society-based targeting, 8.5].

The reach of a specific non-State actor depends on the individual case. The assessment may include aspects such as their family, tribal or other networks for tracing and targeting the applicant. The individual power positions of the applicant and the actor of persecution or serious harm should be assessed, taking into consideration their gender, social status, wealth, connections, etc.

Finally, it should be noted that persecution or serious harm by non-State actors has to be assessed in light of the availability of protection according to Article 7 QD [see 4. Actors of protection].