Actors of persecution or serious harm

AuthorEuropean Asylum Support Office (EU body or agency)
Guidance note | Iraq
January 2021
Actors of persecution or serious harm
Risks to which a population of a country or a section of the population is generally exposed do not
normally create in themselves an individual threat, which would qualify as serious harm (Recital 35
QD). Generally, persecution or serious harm must take the form of conduct on the par t of a third
party (Article 6 QD).
According to Article 6 QD, actors of persecution or serious harm include:
Figure 2. Actors of persecution or serious harm.
The following are the conclusions concerning some of the actors, as indicated in applications for
international protection. The list of potential actors of persecution or serious harm is non-
The Iraqi State actors include members of security forces and other authorities, such as
provincial/local councils or other local officials, e.g. mukhtars. It should also be noted that the
distinction between official State forces and non-State forces is not always clear. The Iraqi State
authorities, in particular the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) including the Iraqi army and the federal
and local police, have been involved in committing a wide range of human rights violations, in
particular within the course of fighting ISIL and after their defeat in December 2017. In the
context of protests, security forces have reportedly used excessive force against protesters
resulting in numerous deaths. Government agents have also reportedly targeted individuals in
relation to the protest movement by means of arrests, intimidation, unlawful detention, etc.
In addition to the ISF, there are also other armed groups affiliated with the Iraqi State.
The Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), also referred to as the Popular Mobilisation Forces
(PMF), can be considered as complex umbrella organisation consisting of many different militias,
out of which the majority are Shia militias. Although PMU are legally a State institution, in
a. the State;
b. parties or organisations
controlling the State or a
substantial part of the territory
of the State;
c. non-State actors, if it can be
demonstrated that the actors
mentioned in points (a) and (b),
including international
organisations, are unable or
unwilling to provide protection
against persecution or serious
harm as defined in Article 7 QD.

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