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Pakistani police detains Afghans with legal stay permit


Kabul: The “Guardian” reports, citing lawyers representing Afghans in detention that at least four people have died in custody and thousands more, including children, are being held in prisons as Pakistan hardens its stance against Afghan citizens.

The most recent death in custody was a 50-year-old Afghan man who was refused hospital treatment while he waited for a judge to hear his case, according to Moniza Kakar, a Karachi-based human rights lawyer.

Kakar claimed that other Afghans in detention were being mistreated, and the judicial process was not being carried out properly by judges assigned to their cases.

“In this crackdown, registered and unregistered Afghans are facing the brunt,” she said. “More than 800 Afghans are in prisons in Karachi and across Sindh province alone, and at least 1,100 have been deported who had no documents.”

Earlier this week, the Guardian attended a deportation hearing in Karachi and witnessed dozens of shackled Afghan refugees and asylum seekers being held in cramped cells while they awaited their court hearing.

While Pakistani authorities claim they are only detaining illegal Afghan entrants, Kakar said those with official UNHCR refugee status are also being arrested and detained. “More than 450 Afghans with refugee status have [now] also been arrested,” she said.

Although Pakistan has not adopted the UN Refugee Convention 1951, which confers a legal duty on countries to protect people fleeing serious harm, it has entered a tripartite agreement with Afghanistan and the UNHCR, which allows the UNHCR to provide Afghan refugees with registration documents.

A spokesperson for UNHCR said: “UNHCR acknowledges Pakistan’s generosity in hosting one of the world’s largest refugee populations for more than 40 years. Since 2021, UNHCR has been in discussions with the government on measures and mechanisms to support vulnerable Afghans. Regrettably, no progress has been made.

“We are concerned regarding reports of the arrest and detention of Afghan refugees in Sindh province. The government and people of Pakistan have a commendable, decades-long history of providing asylum and protection to displaced Afghans, and we urge authorities to release those who are seeking asylum.”

Meanwhile US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the US is discussing the Afghan refugee issues with the Pakistani and called on the country to fulfill its obligations regarding Afghan refugees.

He added “We encourage all states to uphold their respective obligations with regard to Afghan refugees or asylum seekers, and to refrain from returning them to anywhere where they could face persecution or torture.”

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