Last update: April 2022
Land disputes are common in Afghanistan due to the fragmented regularisation/registration of land, large population movements and rapid urbanisation, the protracted conflict situation, and a weak rule of law.
Land disputes occur among individuals and families and can sometimes involve powerful elites or insurgent groups. They occur in a context of growing urbanisation, population growth and high numbers of returnees all over the country, and among all ethnic groups, including nomadic tribes. In rural areas, land conflicts can expand to include whole families, communities, ethnicities, tribes, or clans within one tribe [Criminal law and customary justice, 2.1; Society-based targeting, 6].
Land conflicts can quickly escalate and become violent, sometimes degenerating into small armed conflicts, as well as blood feuds (see also 2.16.1. Blood feuds). Approximately 70 % of serious violent crimes such as murder are caused by disputes over land ownership. Cases of conflicts over land and property in different regions of Afghanistan that resulted in killings and casualties were reported [Criminal law and customary justice, 2.1; Society-based targeting, 6.1].
A weak rule of law leads to a possibility for powerful individuals to influence the administration in order to produce forged documents, and the judiciary to allow them to operate with impunity. In dispute resolution, both formal and informal mechanisms display a bias towards the powerful, wealthy, men, elites and dominant ethnicities [Criminal law and customary justice, 2.3; State structure, 3; Society-based targeting, 6.4.1, 6.4.4, 7.7.4].
Land disputes were reported to be the most common cases heard by the Taliban courts, during their time as insurgency [Criminal law and customary justice, 2.3.3].
Following the takeover, the Taliban´s strive to gain support from people who do not have a positive perception of Hazaras could be at the expense of the minority group, for example taking sides in favour of non-Hazaras in land disputes. In the past, the Taliban usually took the side of Pashtun nomads in land disputes [Country Focus 2022, 2.4. See also 2.11.1 Individuals of Hazara ethnicity].
The loss of land itself would normally not amount to persecution. However, the violence that entails from land disputes, together with the lack of an effective legal system to prevent it, may result in severe violations of basic human rights which would amount to persecution (e.g. killing).
Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. 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: violent nature of the dispute, power/influence of the actors involved in the land dispute, area of origin, etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that in the case of violence related to land disputes, there is in general no nexus to a Convention reason for persecution. This is without prejudice to individual cases where nexus could be established based on additional circumstances (e.g. ethnicity in relation to Taliban taking sides against certain ethnic groups who might be parties in the dispute, land dispute leading to a blood feud, etc.).
Exclusion considerations could be relevant to this profile (see the chapter 6. Exclusion).
See other topics concerning individuals involved in blood feuds and land disputes:
- 2.16.1. Blood feuds
- 2.16.2. Land disputes