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Last update: December 2020
*Minor updates added: April 2022

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 2.12 Women, 2.14 LGBTIQ persons, 2.9 Individuals perceived to have transgressed moral and/or societal norms, 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 2.16 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 2020, 1.4.2; Society-based targeting, 8.5]. Some sources referred to residents’ statements that the crime rates had reduced significantly in Kabul since the Taliban took power. However, residents of Kabul have reportedly seen an emergence of robberies conducted by persons in the name of the Taliban, but there were also reports on the Taliban arresting individuals on charges of misusing the name of the ‘Islamic emirate’ and perpetrating crime against the people. In September 2021, UNOCHA reported on an increase in criminal activities in western and southern provinces, mainly in Uruzgan, Helmand and Kandahar, as well as in the northern province of Kunduz [Country Focus 2022, 3.1.3].

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.