Pakistan: Summary of Legal Assistance and Aid Programme, February 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 Baluchistan run by SEHER.
In February 2018, UNHCR and its partners provided legal assistance to a total of 3,957 persons of concern compared to 3,370 in January 2018. During the month, UNHCR and its partners intervened at police stations for 111 arrested/detained persons of concern and secured the release of all. In the majority of all 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 32 persons of concern.
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 material on legal assistance programs available for refugees (ALAC posters, brochures & use of social media).
Arrest and detention of persons of concern decreased by 6% in the month of February 2018 as compared to the month of January 2018. However, the arrests and detention situation may remain fluid due to various factors, including short-term extension of validity of PoR cards and increased security checks and operations in the country. The Federal Cabinet of Pakistan discussed the Afghan Management and Repatriation Policy plan on 20 February and has approved a further extension in the stay of PoR cardholders until 30 June 2018.