The common analysis below regarding the degree of indiscriminate violence taking place in the different governorates of Iraq combines quantitative and qualitative elements in a holistic and inclusive assessment.
The indicators applied are formulated in reference to the ECtHR judgment in Sufi and Elmi:
(…) first, whether the parties to the conflict were either employing methods and tactics of warfare which increased the risk of civilian casualties or directly targeting civilians; secondly, whether the use of such methods and/or tactics was widespread among the parties to the conflict; thirdly, whether the fighting was localised or widespread; and finally, the number of civilians killed, injured and displaced as a result of the fighting.
These indicators are further developed and adapted in order to be applied as a general approach to assessing the element of ‘indiscriminate violence’, irrespective of the country of origin in question.
The security situation in the respective states is assessed by taking into account the following elements:
o Presence of actors in the conflict
This indicator looks into the presence of actors in the conflict in the respective governorate.
o Number of methods and tactics
The methods and tactics used in the armed conflicts ongoing in Iraq differ according to the actors involved. Some acts are by their nature more indiscriminate than others and create a more substantial risk for civilians.
ISIL are particularly known to use methods which are of indiscriminate nature, such as (suicide) bombings and attacks on whole villages.
The State actors tend to use methods and tactics of more targeted nature; however, they may also (indiscriminately) affect civilians, such as in the case of airstrikes and shelling.
o Number of incidents
The number of security incidents is an important indicator, pointing to the existence of an armed conflict in the meaning of Article 15(c) QD and to intensity of hostilities in a certain area. In relation to this indicator, data collected by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and by United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) are consistently presented per governorate.
ACLED collects data on several types of violent incidents in Iraq: battles, violence against civilians, explosions/remote violence, riots, protests, strategic developments. Each incident is coded with the time and place, type of violent incident, the parties involved, and the number of fatalities. The COI summaries per governorate focus in particular on the number of incidents coded as follows:
UNAMI data focuses on armed conflict-related incidents, which have directly impacted on civilians (causing civilian casualties) and on the civilian nature of property and protected areas (such as, civilian houses, cropland, schools, health facilities and mosque)
For further information on the data, see Security situation 2020.
In order to provide an indication of the relative intensity of incidents, the number of security incidents is furthermore presented as a weekly average for the reference period (1st January 2019 – 31 July 2020).
o Geographical scope
This element looks into how widespread the violence is within the area, highlighting the districts which are particularly affected by indiscriminate violence and/or the districts which are relatively less affected.
Where the conflict severity varies within an area, the place of origin of the applicant could constitute an important element to consider in the assessment. The higher the level of indiscriminate violence in the respective place, the less additional individual elements would be required in order to apply Article 15(c) QD.
o Civilian casualties
This is considered a key indicator when assessing (the level of) indiscriminate violence in the context of Article 15(c) QD.
The data used for this indicator consistently refers to the number of civilian casualties (deaths and injuries) in armed conflict related incidents in each governorate, as recorded by UNAMI from 1st January 2019 until 31 July 2020. The reported number of casualties is further weighted by the population of the governorate and presented as ‘number of civilian casualties per 100 000 inhabitants’.
This element refers to conflict-induced (internal) displacement from and within the governorate, as well as to returns to the governorate.