Amnesty International Calls On Pakistan To Stop Expelling Afghan Girls And Women

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Afghan refugee women and children sit at a registration center after arriving back from Pakistan in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, late last year.
Afghan refugee women and children sit at a registration center after arriving back from Pakistan in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, late last year.

Amnesty International has urged Pakistan to halt expelling hundreds of thousands of Afghan girls and women to neighboring Afghanistan.

“The deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan will put women and girls at unique risk,” Amnesty’s South Asia Office wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on March 27.

The global rights watchdog’s plea comes ahead of the beginning of a new phase of the expulsion of Afghan refugees from neighboring Pakistan. Islamabad plans to force some 850,000 documented Afghan refugees back to their country next month if they don’t leave voluntarily.

Since October, Pakistan has already expelled more than 500,000 Afghans who lacked proper documents to stay in the country.

“Forced returns seriously curtail their rights to education, work, movement, and in some cases, expose them to imminent threat of violence,” Amnesty said.

“The Government of Pakistan must halt all deportations and take affirmative measures to ensure the safety of refugee women and girls,” it added.

After returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban’s ultraconservative Islamist government n Afghanistan has banned teenage girls and women from education. It also prohibited women from employment in most sectors.

Afghan women must also wear a niqab — a strict head-to-toe veil — in public. Taliban restrictions have severely curtailed women’s mobility by requiring them to be accompanied by a male chaperone outside their homes. Women are also banned from leisure activities, including visits to parks.

“Women and girls will experience serious repression of their rights to education, work, freedom of movement and more if deported,” Amnesty said.

The new warning comes two days after Amnesty called in a new report on Islamabad to reverse forced expulsions of all Afghans.

The report, Pakistan: Human Rights Charter, issued on March 25, asked Islamabad to protect all at-risk “refugees in compliance with Pakistan obligations under the principle of non-refoulement.”

Non-refoulement is a fundamental principle of international law that prohibits a state from returning asylum seekers to a country where they would face persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Pakistan lacks a domestic law that offers a path to refugee status. It is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 protocol intended to remove constraints on who can be considered a refugee.

source : Radio free europe