Article 15(c) QD

Serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict

GUIDANCE NOTE
Last updated: January 2021

The necessary elements in order to apply Article 15(c) QD are:

 
Figure 3. Article 15(c) QD: elements of the assessment.

In order to apply Article 15(c) QD, the above elements should be established cumulatively.

The following is a summary of the relevant conclusions concerning the situation in Iraq:

a. Armed conflict: There are multiple overlapping non-international (internal) armed conflicts taking place in Iraq, most prominently, the conflict between the Iraqi government and ISIL. Parts of Iraq are also affected by an international armed conflict involving Turkey, as the conflict in Turkey between Turkey and the PKK has extended to the northern Iraqi territory. The section Indiscriminate violence below provides further guidance with regard to the geographical scope of the armed conflicts taking place on the territory of Iraq.

b. Civilian: Article 15(c) QD applies to a person who is not a member of any of the parties to the conflict and is not taking part in the hostilities, potentially including former combatants who have genuinely and permanently renounced armed activity. The applications by persons under the following profiles should be examined carefully. Based on an individual assessment, such applicants may be found not to qualify as civilians under Article 15(c) QD. For example:
 
 ISIL and associated groups
 new militant factions of ISIL remnants: (e.g. ‘White flags’)
other militant groups, such as Jamaat Ansar Al-Islam, the Naqshbandi Order, Jaysh Al-Mujahideen and the Islamic Army of Iraq
 ISF
 PMU and other militia groups
 KRG forces
■ tribes
 
It should be noted that actively taking part in hostilities is not limited to openly carrying arms but could also include substantial logistical and/or administrative support to combatants.

It is important to underline that the assessment of protection needs is forward-looking. Therefore, the main issue at hand is whether the applicant will be a civilian or not upon return. The fact that the person took part in hostilities in the past would not necessarily mean that Article 15(c) QD would not be applicable to him or her.

c. Indiscriminate violence: Indiscriminate violence takes place to a different degree in different parts of the territory of Iraq. The map below summarises and illustrates the assessment of indiscriminate violence per governorate in Iraq. This assessment is based on a holistic analysis, including quantitative and qualitative information for the reference period (primarily, 1 January 2019 - 31 July 2020). Up-to-date country of origin information should always inform the individual assessment.

Iraq: Level of indiscriminate violence

 
Figure 4. Level of indiscriminate violence in a situation of armed conflict in Iraq (based on data as of 31 July 2020).

It should be noted that there are no governorates in Iraq where the degree of indiscriminate violence reaches such a high level that substantial grounds are shown for believing that a civilian, returned to the relevant region, would, solely on account of his or her presence on the territory of that region, face a real risk of being subject to the serious threat referred to in Article 15(c) QD.

For the purposes of the guidance note, the governorates of Iraq are categorised as follows:

  

 

Territories where ’mere presence’ in the area would not be sufficient to establish a real risk of serious harm under Article 15(c) QD, however, indiscriminate violence reaches a high level, and, accordingly, a lower level of individual elements is required to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.
 
This includes the governorates of Diyala, Kirkuk (Tameem) and Ninewa, and the districts of Amedi and Zakho (Dohuk governorate).
 
 
 
 
 
Territories where indiscriminate violence is taking place, however not at a high level and, accordingly, a higher level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD. 
 
This includes the governorates of Anbar, Baghdad and Salah al-Din and the districts of Choman, Makhmour, Mergasur and Soran (Erbil governorate).
  

 

Territories where indiscriminate violence is taking place at such a low level that in general there is no real risk for a civilian to be personally affected by reason of indiscriminate violence within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD. However, individual elements always need to be taken into account as they could put the applicant in risk-enhancing situations.
 
This includes the governorates of Babil/Babylon, Basrah, Dahuk/Dohuk (except the districts of Amedi and Zakho), Dhi Qar/Thi-Qar, Kerbala, Missan, Najaf, Qadissiya and Sulaymaniyah incl. Halabja, and the districts of Erbil, Koisnjaq and Shaqlawa (Erbil governorate).
  

 

Territories where no armed conflict in the meaning of Article 15(c) QD is taking place. Therefore, there is no real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.
 
This includes the governorates of Muthanna and Wassit.

 

d. Serious and individual threat: Certain applicants may be considered at enhanced risk of indiscriminate violence, including its direct and indirect consequences due to, inter alia: geographical proximity to areas which are targeted by violence, age, gender, health condition and disabilities, lack of a social network, etc. 

Profiles at enhanced risk of indiscriminate violence could include, for example:

■  
Civilians who lack the capacity to properly assess a situation and therefore expose themselves to risks related to indiscriminate violence (e.g. children – depending on their environment, family background, parents or guardians, and level of maturity; mentally disabled persons).
■  
Civilians who are less able to avoid risks of indiscriminate violence by way of seeking temporary shelter from fighting or attacks (e.g. persons with disabilities or serious illnesses; elderly; those in an extremely dire economic situation).
■  
Civilians who may be substantially and materially affected by violence because of their geographical proximity to a possible target (e.g. those living in proximity to known ISIL targets, such as the houses of local politicians, local administration buildings, markets, schools, hospitals, religious buildings, IDP camps, military bases).

e. Threat to life or person: The risk of harm as per Article 15(c) QD is formulated as a ‘threat to a civilian’s life or person’ rather than as a (threat of) a specific act of violence. Some of the commonly reported types of harm to a civilian’s life or person in Iraq include killings, injuries, abductions, retaliatory violence by the armed forces, forced displacements, forced recruitment of minors, explosive remnants of war, etc.

f. Nexus: The nexus ‘by reason of’ refers to the causal link between the indiscriminate violence and the harm (serious threat to a civilian´s life or person) and includes:
■  
Harm which is directly caused by the indiscriminate violence or by acts that emanate from the actors in the conflict, and
■  
Harm which is indirectly caused by the indiscriminate violence in a situation of armed conflict. Indirect effects are only considered to a certain extent and as long as there is a demonstrable link with the indiscriminate violence, for example: widespread criminal violence as a result of the collapse of State institutions in the context of the conflict with ISIL, destruction of the necessary means to survive, destruction of infrastructure.


 

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