Actors of persecution or serious harm

AuthorEuropean Asylum Support Office (EU body or agency)
Common analysis | Iraq
January 2021
1. Actors of persecution or serious harm
This chapter looks into the topic of ‘actors of persecution o r serious harm’. It focuses on the main
actors in Iraq, their areas of presence and control, the violations they have reportedly committed,
and, where applicable, their structure and organisation.
The contents of this chapter include:
Preliminary remarks
Overview: areas of control
The Iraqi State
Popular Mobilisation Units and Tribal Mobilisation Milit ias
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Other non-State actors
Preliminary remarks
Article 6 QD defines ‘actors of persecution or serious harm’ as follows:
Article 6 of the Qualification Directive
Actors of persecution or serious harm
Actors of persecution or serious harm include:
a) the State;
b) parties or organisations controlling the State or a substantial part of the territory of the
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.
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). For example, it cannot simply be the result of general shortcomings in the
health system of the country of origin.17
The notion of State within the meaning of Article 6(a) QD should be broadly interpreted. It
encompasses any organ exercising legislative, executive, judicial or any other function(s) and acting
at any level, be it central, federal, regional, provincial or local. It could, for example, include the civil
service, armed forces, security and police forces, etc. In some cases, private entities may also be
given State powers and therefore be considered a State actor of persecution or serious harm.
Parties or organisations controlling the State or a substantial part of the territory of the
State can refer to two possible scenarios:
17 CJEU, Mohamed M'Bodj v État belge, C-542/13, judgment of 18 December 2014, C-542/13, paras. 35-36.

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