OHCHR / PAKISTAN AFGHANISTAN

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15-Nov-2023 00:02:34
A spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office said, “We have received first-hand accounts that the arbitrary expulsion of Afghan nationals from Pakistan has been accompanied by abuse, including ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, destruction of property and personal belongings and extortion.” OHCHR

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STORY: OHCHR / PAKISTAN AFGHANISTAN
TRT: 02:34
SOURCE: OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 15 NOVEMBER 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Various shots, exteriors, Palais Wilson Geneva
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson United Nations Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We have received first-hand accounts that the arbitrary expulsion of Afghan nationals from Pakistan has been accompanied by abuse, including ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, destruction of property and personal belongings and extortion. Pakistan has ordered undocumented foreigners, including Afghans residing in Pakistan, to leave the country by a deadline of 1st November this year. Over 327,000 people have already arrived in Afghanistan from Pakistan, many compelled to leave out of fear of arrest. They are going to a country experiencing a humanitarian crisis. One person shared an experience of local police conducting a night raid on the family home. They confiscated cash, jewellery, goats, sheep and other items from their home. The police only gave them a few hours to collect their remaining stuff and leave their home by that day at dawn. As they were leaving, a bulldozer began to destroy the home. The person described feeling helpless and of leaving the village with eyes full of tears. We have also received information of some Afghans being arbitrarily arrested and detained in Pakistan. Some allege they were subjected to ill-treatment. Women and girls arriving in Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable. Pakistan must ensure protection for individuals who may face persecution, torture, ill-treatment or other irreparable harm in Afghanistan, in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights renews his appeal to the Government of Pakistan to suspend the Afghan return programme until individual assessment procedures and other safeguards required by international law are in place, and to investigate complaints of abuse by law enforcement officers.”
3. Med shot, exterior Palais Wilson




STORYLINE:

Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, today (15 Nov) said, “We have received first-hand accounts that the arbitrary expulsion of Afghan nationals from Pakistan has been accompanied by abuse, including ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, destruction of property and personal belongings and extortion.”

“Pakistan has ordered undocumented foreigners, including Afghans residing in Pakistan, to leave the country by a deadline of 1st November this year. Over 327,000 people have already arrived in Afghanistan from Pakistan, many compelled to leave out of fear of arrest. They are going to a country experiencing a humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Despite Pakistani authorities having issued a Government-wide circular stating that individuals in possession of Proof of Registration (PoR) and Afghan Citizen Cards could only be repatriated on a voluntary basis at this time, the UN Human Rights Office has received complaints that, at least in some cases, this has been disregarded. These cards have been issued by the Government of Pakistan with the support of the UN refugee agency, and PoR card holders are Government-recognized refugees.

These new developments are at variance with Pakistan’s decades-long tradition of hosting, generously, Afghan refugees in vast numbers.

The UN Human Rights Office has also received accounts from Afghans crossing the border who allege they were subjected to arbitrary treatment or abuse by Pakistan authorities.

“One person shared an experience of local police conducting a night raid on the family home. They confiscated cash, jewellery, goats, sheep and other items from their home. The police only gave them a few hours to collect their remaining stuff and leave their home by that day at dawn. As they were leaving, a bulldozer began to destroy the home. The person described feeling helpless and of leaving the village with eyes full of tears,” said Laurence.

Many Afghans are arriving with very few financial resources, having been forced to leave their homes and jobs, in addition to being forced to pay bribes or having their possessions seized.

“We have also received information of some Afghans being arbitrarily arrested and detained in Pakistan. Some allege they were subjected to ill-treatment,” said Laurence.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions are contrary to Pakistan’s obligations under international law. The right to liberty of person is a fundamental right guaranteed to everyone without discrimination, including all migrants, irrespective of status. Immigration detention should be a last resort, and not used to compel return, and should be avoided completely in the case of children and other vulnerable groups.

“Women and girls arriving in Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable,” said Laurence. The de facto authorities’ policies and edicts mean that they will be prevented from continuing their education beyond grade six, from working in most sectors, from accessing parks and other public spaces, and will face other broad restrictions on their participation in daily and public life.

“Pakistan must ensure protection for individuals who may face persecution, torture, ill-treatment or other irreparable harm in Afghanistan, in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement,” Laurence said. This includes Afghan women and girls, former government officials and security personnel, ethnic and religious minorities, human rights defenders and civil society activists and media workers.

The de facto authorities, as the duty bearers of Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations, are obliged to ensure that such individuals are not targeted in Afghanistan after their arrival.

“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights renews his appeal to the Government of Pakistan to suspend the Afghan return programme to investigate complaints of abuse by law enforcement officers,” said Laurence.
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