In its latest legal opinion, used for deciding on submited asylum application, LIFOS emphasised an accumulation of discriminatory restrictions on women and girls’ access to work, healthcare and education, and to seek protection from violence. The analysis also referred to the very recent restrictions, including a ban on women to go to university studies and visiting parks, gyms and other public places.
The opinion also referred to the hardening of the Taliban’s positions with no signs of change. As a result, the opinion concludes that Afghan women’s basic rights are violated through a range of discriminatory legal, administrative, police and/or judicial measures and that the accumulation of these measures amounts to persecution.
As noted by McHugh J. of the High Court of Australia in Chan v. Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, (1989) 169 CLR 379 (Aus. HC, Dec. 9, 1989), measures ‘in disregard’ of human dignity may, in appropriate cases, constitute persecution […] the denial of access to employment, to the professions and to education or the imposition of restrictions on the freedoms traditionally guaranteed in a democratic society such as freedom of speech, assembly, worship or movement may constitute persecution if imposed for a Convention reason.
In the sense of Article 9.1(b) of the EU Qualification Directive, various acts or omissions which, taken separately, do not amount to persecution, may have the combined effect of seriously violating one or several of the applicant’s human rights. This would be considered persecution on “cumulative grounds”. Discrimination will amount to persecution where measures of discrimination, individually or cumulatively, lead to consequences of a substantially prejudicial nature for the person concerned (Paras 54-55 of the UNHCR Handbook and Guidelines, HCR/1P/4/ENG/REV).
The LIFOS legal opinion underlines that as developments are uncertain and can be rapidly changing, it is important to monitor the situation in Afghanistan both in terms of security developments, human rights situation and the situation of various groups. It is very important to use the latest updated country information when deciding a case or when implementing a decision to return a rejected asylum seeker to the country of origin.