Pakistan: Summary of Legal Assistance and Aid Programme, April 2018
Nine Advice and Legal Aid Centres (ALAC) are operational in the main refugee-hosting areas of four provinces in order to provide free legal support to persons of concern: four in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), one in Sindh and three in Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) through partnership agreements with SHARP and one in Balochistan run by SEHER.
In April 2018, UNHCR and its partners provided legal assistance to a total of 3,381 persons of concern compared to 3,236 in March 2018. During April, UNHCR and its partners intervened at police stations for 62 arrested/detained persons of concern and secured the release of all. In the majority of cases, UNHCR and its partners managed to obtain the release of the arrested refugees by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) before the official lodging of charges against them which resulted in their release from detention within 24 hours. Additionally, ALAC partners provided court representations to 38 persons of concern charged under the Foreigners Act and other preventive laws subsequently resulting in their release by court orders.
ALAC teams and the Ministry of SAFRON continue to take proactive steps to mitigate the risk of detention, including enhanced advocacy, pre-emptively intervening at police stations to prevent arrests and enhancing the response capacity of partners. UNHCR has developed and disseminated additional awareness raising materials on legal assistance programs available for refugees (ALAC posters, brochures and use of social media).
Arrest and detention of persons of concern remained stable in the month of April. Furthermore, there was a 64% decrease in arrest and detention in April 2018 as compared to the figures of April 2017.The extension in the validity of PoR cards until 30 June 2018 was announced in February 2018. However, the actual notification was issued on 20 March which has been timely and widely circulated to the LEAs and refugee communities by UNHCR and partners.
UNHCR funds 9 ALACs, through implemenƟng partners. SHARP operates in KP, Punjab and Sindh. SEHER has implemented UNHCR funded ALAC legal aid services in Balochistan.
*Actual numbers of arrests / detentions / ** Interventions made by ALAC at police stations to secure the release of PoCs.
Note: In January 2018, the FronƟer Corps (FC) in QueƩa undertook security operations that resulted in the apprehension of Afghans including registered Afghan refugees. Among those arrested, 40 PoR cardholders were deported to Afghanistan without due process.