International Organization for Transitional Justice and Peace

ITJP and PFP Coalition Allies Call on Pakistan to Refrain from Deporting Afghan Human Rights Defenders, Prosecutors, and Justice Personnel

Aurat March human rights activists rally in Karachi, protesting Pakistan's deportation plans for Afghan migrants on Oct. 29, 2023 (Source: VOA).

Despite the deportation deadline being on November 1st and primarily targeting undocumented Afghan refugees, we have received reports of an Afghan prosecutor, with a valid travel visa and even a ticket, being deported to Afghanistan.


We appreciate Pakistan’s long history of generously hosting Afghan refugees, including women and children. However, our primary concern is the safety of prosecutors and justice personnel who fled Afghanistan due to severe threats and human rights violations. The actions of the Taliban, which include harassment, torture, and extrajudicial killings of government officials and human rights defenders, including 29 prosecutors, make deporting these individuals to Afghanistan highly dangerous.


Although Pakistan hasn’t ratified the 1951 Convention and 1967 UN Protocol on Refugees, we call upon Pakistan to uphold the international human rights conventions it has joined. We urge Pakistan not to deport recent Afghan refugees, including those who’ve served in the justice system, invoking Article 14 of the Universal Declaration on the right to seek asylum in other countries to escape persecution. Pakistan is bound by various international human rights treaties, including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which oblige it to respect human rights. Notably, Pakistan is a member of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, while Afghan women still face gender-based discrimination and apartheid.


In addition, according to the 1993 Cooperation Agreement between Pakistan and the UNHCR, Pakistan is bound to honor UNHCR decisions on granting asylum and temporary residence to refugees while awaiting a durable solution. This commitment should prevent Pakistan from deporting Afghan refugees, especially those at high risk, such as prosecutors and justice personnel, who sought refuge in Pakistan to escape threats and persecution in Afghanistan.


We respect Pakistan’s national security concerns but wish to emphasize that Afghan refugees, especially human rights defenders, prosecutors, and justice system personnel, are victims of terrorism seeking safety in Pakistan while awaiting case processing. They’ve sought refuge in Pakistan to escape the fear of detention, torture, and violence in their homeland and share a common interest with Pakistan in combating terrorism.


For your information, they are not safe in Afghanistan and according to United Nations recent reports, over the past two years, more than 800 former Afghan government members have faced arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of the Taliban. Afghanistan currently lacks a legitimate and responsive government and an effective legal system for its citizens, with women and girls deprived of basic rights, including employment and education. Deporting these individuals under these circumstances exposes them to harassment, torture, and severe human rights violations, which the international community condemns.


Furthermore, while we are working hard to support the relocation of Afghan allies, including prosecutors and justice personnel in Afghanistan and neighboring countries like Pakistan, we firmly believe that deporting them would violate human rights and harm Pakistan’s reputation as well as its relationship with the international community.


Given the dire circumstances and ongoing threats that they faced, we strongly urge Pakistan to reconsider the deportation of Afghan refugees, focusing on those who fled after August 2021, including prosecutors, justice personnel, and human rights defenders.


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