The Government of Pakistan must immediately halt the continued detentions, deportations and widespread harassment of Afghan refugees, said Amnesty International today.
“Thousands of Afghan refugees are being used as political pawns to be returned to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan where their life and physical integrity could be at risk amidst an intensified crackdown on human rights and an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe. No one should be subjected to mass forced deportations, and Pakistan would do well to remember its international legal obligations, including the principle of non-refoulement,” said Livia Saccardi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns for South Asia.
“Thousands of Afghan refugees are being used as political pawns to be returned to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan where their life and physical integrity could be at risk”, said Livia Saccardi
“If the Pakistani government doesn’t halt the deportations immediately, it will be denying thousands of at-risk Afghans, especially women and girls, access to safety, education and livelihood.”, Amnesty International added
According to the government, more than 170,000 Afghans, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for decades, have had to leave the country since 17 September as the government gave an ultimatum for all ‘unregistered foreign nationals’ to leave Pakistan. Since the expiry of the 1 November deadline imposed by the Government of Pakistan, the police have moved from registering cases under the Foreigners Act, 1946 which among other things criminalizes illegal entry into Pakistan, to directly detaining refugees deemed ‘illegal’ at deportation centers.
Maryam, an Afghan activist in Islamabad told Amnesty International that on 2 November several Afghan refugees were detained at the Shalimar Police station and “those without documentation were sent for deportation while their family members were given no information about where they were taken or when they would be deported.”
Amnesty International has concerned about the complete lack of transparency, due process and accountability in the detentions and deportations over the last week. This has been exacerbated by increased incidents of harassment and hostility against Afghan refugees in Pakistan.