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3.3. Persons affiliated with foreign forces

Last update: May 2024

This profile refers to individuals who are associated with the foreign troops which were present in Afghanistan, such as interpreters, security guards, civilian contractors, administrators and logistics personnel.

COI summary

During the years of conflict, personnel working for foreign military troops, in particular interpreters, were a top priority target for the Taliban. Article 11 of Taliban’s Layeha (code of conduct) orders the execution of individuals working for Kofaar (foreign infidels), including Tarjoman (interpreters). Members of forces collaborating with foreign troops, contractors and ‘spies’ were seen by the Taliban as responsible for killing Afghan civilians. They were publicly defined as criminals and targeted. Individuals not on the payroll of the foreign forces but doing general maintenance jobs, have not been as systematically targeted, although attacks occurred [Anti-government elements,, pp. 26-27; Conflict targeting, 1.2.3., pp. 35-36].

After the Taliban takeover, thousands of interpreters who worked for international and US forces applied for special visa arrangements to leave the country [Security September 2021, 1.1.4., p. 16]. It was reported that the US managed to evacuate most of its Afghan spies and informants and their relatives, and many individuals that were affiliated with foreign forces left Afghanistan during the evacuation efforts following the takeover. However, tens of thousands of interpreters and other foreign forces collaborators reportedly remained in Afghanistan. Individuals who were working for foreign military troops, e.g. interpreters, were reportedly living in hiding apart from their families, moving location every month to escape the Taliban, and being searched for. Reportedly, as of November 2023, 24 cases of targeting were identified of which 6 killings carried out by the Taliban and unidentified actors, and 3 cases of torture in Taliban custody [Country Focus 2023, 4.1., p. 64; Security 2022, 3.1., p. 74].

Despite the announced amnesty for individuals who had fought against them, the Taliban were either unable or unwilling to restrain their soldiers from engaging in retaliatory acts against persons under this profile [Country Focus 2023, 4.1.1., p. 56; Security September 2021, 1.1.2., p. 13; COI Update 2022, 3., pp. 4-5; Country Focus 2022, 2.5., pp. 45-48; Targeting 2022, 2.1., p. 56; 3., pp. 74-76].

Incidents of threats, summary executions, detentions, torture, abuses and enforced disappearances of persons affiliated with foreign forces have been reported [Country Focus 2023, 4.2., pp. 64-65; Targeting 2022, 2.1., p. 56; 3., pp. 74-76; Country Focus 2022, 2.5., pp. 45-48].

Efforts were made by the Taliban to track down persons under this profile through local informants, the use of existing databases and intimidation [Security 2022, 1.2.4., p. 33; Targeting 2022, 2.2., pp. 63-64; 3., pp. 74-76].

Relatives of individuals who worked with foreign troops also faced threats. Family members of interpreters were in particular reported to be in hiding due to fear of reprisals [Targeting 2022, 2.2., p. 64; 3., pp. 75-77].


Conclusions and guidance 

   Do the acts qualify as persecution under Article 9 QD?   

Acts reported to be committed against individuals under this profile are of such severe nature that they amount to persecution (e.g. killing).

   What is the level of risk of persecution (well-founded fear)?   

For individuals affiliated with foreign forces, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated.

Family members of such individuals may also have a well-founded fear of persecution.


   Are the reasons for persecution falling within Article 10 QD (nexus)?   

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion.

Exclusion considerations could be relevant to this profile (see the chapter 7. Exclusion).