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Geneva Convention
Article 1A(2)

The actors of persecution or serious harm include:

                       The state


  • The notion of the state should be broadly interpreted. It encompasses de  jure and de facto organs and may cover  any officials exercising governmental  functions, irrespective of whether they  pertain to the judiciary, executive or  legislative branches of a government,  and working at any level.
  • State actors of persecution or serious  harm may also include: persons or  entities empowered to exercise  governmental authority; private  individuals or groups acting under the  control or direction of organs or entities  empowered to exercise governmental  authority; or state agents acting beyond  the scope of their legal authority.

Parties or organisations controlling the state or a substantial part of its territory

  • When controlling the territory of the state or a substantial part of it, parties or organisations could amount to de facto state actors by exercising elements of governmental authority in the absence of a de jure state authority.
  • The dividing line between parties or organisations controlling the state, or a substantial part of its territory, and non-state actors is not always a sharp one.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Non-state actors


  • This notion encompasses all non-state actors, such as clans and tribes, rebel groups, criminals and family members                                                                                                                                           


Actors of persecution are a key element in the status determination process. Persecution or serious harm must always take the form of conduct on the part of a specific actor.