Iraq country information: targeting of individuals

Legal Updates

The European Asylum Support Office acts as a “centre of expertise on asylum”, including producing country information reports for some of the countries from which people seeking asylum have fled.

In March 2019, they released a report on Iraq, specifically on the targeting of individuals.

Although this report was published more than six months ago, and of course situations can change rapidly on the ground (in fact, if you are looking for very recent information for asylum claims, you may need to look for journalistic coverage as there will always be some time-lag in the production of reports), this report was referenced just this week by an immigration judge in the First-tier Tribunal, who said he intended to use it as part of his judgment.

Many thanks to the member of the Right to Remain Toolkit Facebook group for sharing this information.

The report

The report is divided into three main sections: the targeting of individuals by state actors and affiliated armed groups; targeting by ISIL; and targeting by society.

The authors of the report point out that “the distinction between official state forces and non-state forces is not always clear”, and also that some people may be targeted by “multiple actors for a range of motivations”.

The section on the targeting of individuals by state actors and affiliated armed groups looks at who those state actors/affiliated armed groups are (the Iraqi Security Forces; Popular Mobilization Units; and Kurdish Regional Government forces). It then looks at potential targets: Sunni perceived to be ISIL collaborators or sympathisers; internally displaced persons; family members of actual or perceived ISIL members, affiliates and supporters; members of tribes with (perceived) affiliation with ISIL; and former Baath party members. It also looks at forced recruitment into Popular Mobilization Units, and De-Baathification.

The second section is on potential targeting by ISIL. The report notes that “although by the end of 2017, ISIL did not control any territory in Iraq, it continues to carry out targeted attacks against civilians and asymmetric attacks across Iraq”. This section covers ISIL’s structure and way of operating, then looks at targeting of ethno-religious identity groups (Shi’a Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Kaka’i and Kurds); and then targeting of individuals perceived to oppose ISIL.

In the final section, targeting of individuals by society, the report looks at the key actors of this potential targeting: society, family/community and tribes; then criminals, traffickers and unknown perpetrators. It then looks at who might be targeted: people perceived to transgress Islam (atheists and apostates); people targeted because of their (real or perceived) sexual orientation or gender identity; religious and ehtnic minorities; gender-based targeting; tribal conflict; people with disabilities; children; people perceived as wealthy; those in an inter-sect marriage between Sunni and Shia; mixed Arab-Kurdish couples; and people displaying “westernised behaviour”. As with people returned from the UK to Afghanistan, it is worth considering how someone’s time in the UK might mean they are likely to display or be perceived as displaying “westernised behaviour”.

Country information and your case

As with all country of origin information (reports, Home Office guidance notes, country guidance cases) you need to look at what the information says. Does it support your case in terms of what has happened to you in the past, and/or what has happened to people you know or who are connected to you, and/or what you say might happen to you in the future?

If it does support your case, you may want to draw attention to this in any submissions to the Home Office or courts (for example, on appeal or in further submissions to be considered as a fresh claim).

If it doesn’t support your case, why doesn’t it? Is the information out of date or inaccurate? Or does the information describe a general pattern and your situation is different? If this is so, then you need to try and find evidence to explain this. You may want to see if getting an expert to write a report on your situation is possible.


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