Afghanistan: New policy

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New policy for the assessment of applications for international protection.

Suspension of assessment of subsidiary protection status is no longer applicable

In August 2021, a temporary suspension of decisions (link previous web report) was decided for applicants from Afghanistan.

For some situation, it is still difficult to assess the application due to a lack of information or the stance of the Taliban. When there is uncertainty, the CGRS shall be cautious and grand the refugee status. For the assessment of subsidiary protection there is enough information available. Sufficient information about the situation in Afghanistan is once again available.

Therefore, the temporary suspension of the assessment of subsidiary protection status is lifted. The CGRS can again take a decision for all applications.

For the cases for which a personal interview was organised in the past few months but no decision was taken, a decision will follow in the coming months. As for all countries of origin, each situation will be assessed individually.

The mission of the CGRS

The CGRS has to assess whether there is a need for protection for all applicants for international protection. The CGRS does not have to assess whether a country is safe or unsafe, nor to make a "political" assessment of a regime and to grant a protection status on that basis.

 The CGRS assesses the need for protection for each applicant individually. This is done on the basis of the definitions of refugee and subsidiary protection provided by law and international treaties.

When doing so, the CGRS takes into account the situation in Afghanistan. The CGRS is aware that the situation in this country is extremely problematic. It is clear that many people need protection. This is not necessarily the case for everyone. An individual assessment remains necessary.

Granting refugee status

Due to the assumption of power by the Taliban, the situation for many Afghans has clearly deteriorated. Many people risk being persecuted. They can count on refugee status.

This involves many different profiles such as journalists, human rights activists, political opponents and critics of the Taliban, people occupying certain functions under the previous government, staff members of the previous foreign military troops or foreign organisations, certain minorities, LGBT people and other people who go against the conservative of religious norms and values, isolated minors or women without a network, family members of certain profiles at risk….

Granting subsidiary protection status

In addition to granting refugee status, the CGRS must assess whether subsidiary protection status should be granted.

For Afghanistan, until the Taliban seized power, subsidiary protection status was granted because of the war situation. When doing so, the CGRS took into account the region of origin because the risk of being a victim of indiscriminate violence differed greatly from region to region.

Due to the assumption of power by the Taliban, the security situation has changed considerably. There are still attacks and violent incidents. These are mainly acts of targeted violence. Persons who are targeted, generally belong to profiles that are eligible for recognition of refugee status. Therefore, they can count on protection through recognition of refugee status. In Afghanistan, there is no longer a real risk of falling victim to indiscriminate violence.

Therefore, subsidiary protection status will no longer be granted because of the security situation.

Afghanistan is characterized by a precarious humanitarian situation. The CGRS has thoroughly examined this situation and considered whether subsidiary protection status should be granted for that reason.

This humanitarian situation is mainly the result of last year’s drought and the drastic reduction in economic and humanitarian support since the Taliban seized power.

Regarding the assessment of Art. 3 ECHR, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) applies very high standards for the assessment of socio-economic or humanitarian conditions: only in very exceptional circumstances are they considered to be in violation of Art. 3 ECHR.

According to the Court of Justice, Art. 15, b of the Qualification Directive is not completely identical to Art. 3 ECHR. It states that the socio-economic and humanitarian circumstances are only eligible for the granting of subsidiary protection status if they put persons in very extreme circumstances and this situation is the result of a deliberate act or omission of an actor.

Those conditions are not met in Afghanistan. In general, subsidiary protection status will not be granted because of the socio-economic or humanitarian circumstances in Afghanistan.

Conclusion

The situation in Afghanistan is extremely problematic.

Many applicants from Afghanistan need protection. This will be offered by the granting of refugee status. The field of application for the granting of refugee status is broader than before the Taliban seized power.

On the other hand, there is less reason today to grant subsidiary protection status. This is due to the strongly changed security situation.

The policy of the CGRS is comparable to the policy in some other EU countries, where the notification of decisions has already been resumed.

02 March 2022

Information about the asylum procedure, tailored to the asylum seeker, can be found at : asyluminbelgium.be.