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2.3. Individuals refusing to pay ‘taxes’ to Al-Shabaab

Last updated: June 2022

This profile is particularly relevant to individuals refusing to pay ‘taxes’ to Al-Shabaab in South-Central Somalia and Puntland, given the group’s presence and influence in these areas. The term ‘taxes’ in this context includes protection money, extorsion and religious ‘taxes’.

COI summary

The Al-Shabaab taxation system applies in areas under the group’s control, but it has also been spreading into Mogadishu and other government-controlled areas, such as Bosasso and Jowhar and, to a lesser extent, Baidoa and Kismayo [Actors, 4.3.2]. For further information on the taxation system imposed by Al-Shabaab, see 1.3. Al-Shabaab under chapter Actors of persecution or serious harm.

Among other taxes, Al-Shabaab extorted zakat (an Islamic annual compulsory giving of a set amount, typically 2.5% of one’s wealth, to benefit the poor) and sadaqa (a normally voluntary charitable contribution paid by Muslims) from residents [Targeting, 6.4].

Individuals who do not comply with those demands face threats or violence and allegedly torture for offences including failure to pay taxes. It has been reported that Al-Shabaab carried out killings when the taxpayers refused to meet the group’s demands. [Targeting, 6.4]

Risk analysis

Individuals refusing to pay ‘taxes’ to Al-Shabaab could be exposed to acts which are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. assassination).

Where Al-Shabaab imposes ‘taxes’, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated in the case of individuals refusing to pay such ‘taxes’ to the group.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion and/or religion.