5.3. Safety

 
Common analysis
Last updated: September 2020

The criterion of safety would be satisfied where the following two aspects have been established:

 absence of the initial persecution or serious harm

With regard to protection needs related to refugee status, Article 15(a) QD and Article 15(b) QD, this should be examined in light of the elements below. In the context of IPA concerning serious harm under Article 15(c) QD, it should be established that in the area considered under IPA the applicant would not face a real risk of such serious harm by reason of indiscriminate violence.

✓ no potential new forms of persecution or serious harm

The case officer should also establish that there are no potential new forms of persecution or serious harm in the area where IPA is considered for the applicant.[46] The analysis under the chapters Refugee status, Subsidiary protection and The implications of leaving Syria should be referred to in this regard.

These elements should be examined based on the general situation in the respective part of Syria and the individual position and personal circumstances of the applicant, including elements such as background, gender, age, etc. (see Article 8(2) QD in reference to Article 4 QD).

 

Absence of persecution or serious harm

When assessing the requirement of safety with regard to the applicability of IPA in individual cases of applicants from Syria, the following elements should be taken into account:

►  general security situation

The general security situation in Damascus City should be assessed in accordance with the analysis under the section on Article 15(c) QD. Looking at the indicators in this regard, it can be concluded that indiscriminate violence is taking place in the governorate of Damascus, 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.

►  actor of persecution or serious harm and their reach

In case where the person fears persecution or serious harm by State actors, internal protection in Damascus would in general not be considered safe.

With regard to persecution or serious harm by SDF, YPG, ISIL, HTS or other anti-GoS armed groups, it should be noted that these groups are active within certain regions and their operational capacity in Damascus City is currently limited. Therefore, the criterion of safety may be considered satisfied in most cases. However, particular consideration should be given to the individual circumstances of the applicant and whether or not they are perceived by the actor as a priority target.

In some cases, where the applicant faces persecution or serious harm for reasons related to the prevalent social norms in Syria and the actor of persecution or serious harm can be the Syrian society at large (e.g. for 2.14. LGBTI and 2.12. Women), IPA would in general not be safe. It should also be underlined that it cannot be reasonably expected that the applicant abstains from practices fundamental to his or her identity, such as those related to their religion or sexual orientation, in order to avoid the risk of persecution or serious harm.[47]

For certain particularly vulnerable individuals, such as women and children, if the actor of persecution or serious harm is the family or community (e.g. forced marriage, honour crime), taking into account the lack of State protection and their vulnerability to potential new forms of persecution or serious harm, IPA would in general not be safe.

See also Actors of persecution or serious harm.

►  whether or not the profile of the applicant is considered a priority target and/or a threat by the actor of persecution or serious harm

The profile of the applicant could make him or her a priority target, increasing the likelihood that the actor of persecution or serious harm would attempt to trace him/her in Damascus City.

►  other risk-enhancing circumstances

The information under the section Refugee status should be used to assist in this assessment.

 

Availability of protection against persecution or serious harm

Alternatively, it may be determined that the requirement of safety is satisfied if the applicant would have access to protection against persecution or serious harm, as defined in Article 7 QD, in the area where IPA is considered. However, in light of the analysis in the chapter Actors of protection, the possibility to consider the criterion of safety satisfied in relation to availability of protection would be limited to very exceptional cases.

 

The requirement of safety may be satisfied in Damascus City, depending on the profile and the individual circumstances of the applicant. For those who have a well-founded fear of persecution by the GoS and/or by society at large, IPA in Damascus will generally not meet the criterion of safety.
 
 
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[46] This can be further supported, by way of analogy, by the CJEU findings in the case of Abdulla, where the Court, interpreting Article 11(1)(e) QD on cessation, concluded that not only should the original circumstances which justified the person’s fear no longer exist, but the person should also have no other reason to fear being ‘persecuted’, CJEU, Abdulla and Others v Bundesrepublik Deutschland, joined cases C-175/08, C-176/08, C-178/08 and C-179/08, judgment of 2 March 2010, para. 76. [back to text]
[47] CJEU, X, Y and Z, paras. 70-76; CJEU, Y and Z, para. 80. [back to text]
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