On 13 October 2022, the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CCE or RvV) gave a ruling and recognised the refugee status of an Afghan citizen of Hazara origin (case no. 278 700).

In its reasoning, the Council acknowledged that individuals of Hazara origin can be victims of societal discrimination and that Shia minorities, especially the ethnic Hazara minority, continue to be targeted in attacks by insurgent groups in Afghanistan (including ISKP, the Islamic State branch in South Asia and Central Asia). Furthermore, based on the UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan and other sources, the Council affirmed that the operational capacity of this terrorist group seems to have expanded since the Taliban takeover. The Council expressly referred to the EUAA Country Guidance of April 2022 and it highlighted the identification of the risk of Hazara ethnicity being potentially exposed to acts of persecution, as well as the broader context of violence against Shiite Muslims and how they are subject to targeted attacks. In this line, the Council also found that the precarious overall context of discriminatory measures, threats and violence towards Shiites must be considered in the assessment of the asylum application.

For the assessment in the present case at hand, the Council took into account the region of the applicant, Baghlan province, in which violence against civilians has been recorded and has increased in the first months of 2022. Additionally, it was mentioned that the applicant was an Ismaili Hazara and thus he belonged to a “minority within the minority”. In its decision, the Council considered that the applicant left Afghanistan at a young age, that he has no longer parents and that his network in Afghanistan is limited. Moreover, the judgment stated that the applicant actively participates in Belgian society and no longer acts in accordance with Islamic doctrine. According to the Court, this alleged westernisation seems to create a link between the feared persecution and an attributed political or religious conviction.

The Court considered all these cumulative reasons together with the overall country information to conclude that there are a number of individual risk-determining circumstances and these are sufficient to assume a well-founded fear of persecution on the part of the applicant. Finally, it clarified that no reasonable protection is available for the applicant in the country of origin as the Taliban cannot be concluded as a legitimate actor of protection.

Based on an unofficial translation from within the EWLU team.

We would like to thank Matthieu Lys, lawyer in the Brussels Bar and at Alter Égaux, for bringing this case to our attention.