Pakistan's Domestic Laws and Policies
Pakistan officially closed its border with Afghanistan in November 2000, citing an inability to absorb the 30,000 refugees who had arrived in the previous two months and the thousands more then expected to arrive. In January 2001, the governor of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and thereafter the federal government, issued public orders empowering the police to detain and deport newly arrived Afghans in the NWFP and all undocumented Afghans already in Pakistan. Those new arrivals who were not detained or deported were placed in new Jalozai camp, where living conditions were already deplorable. The Pakistani authorities refused to allow UNHCR to register new arrivals in new Jalozai camp in order to determine whether they were in need of refugee protection.85 Without registration, assistance programs were also stymied, since the registration of refugees establishes accurate numbers and a system of documentation for the distribution of food and non-food items.
The government authorities responsible for promulgating laws and policies affecting refugees in these camps and in urban areas often employ contradictory policies, exacerbating the already hostile environment for refugees. For example, the governor of the NWFP, Iftikhar Hussain Shah, has been openly hostile to the presence of the refugees, while the governor of Baluchistan has been somewhat more tolerant and cooperative with the federal government's policies. Both of these local authorities are expected to coordinate their policies with the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), and other federal government departments, though the coordination between the federal government and the provincial governments is often lacking. These layers of government are further complicated by the fact that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are located within the NWFP, but have a semi-autonomous legal status with the federal government. Therefore, there are separate tribal leaders and security personnel located in FATA who are not legally obliged to coordinate their policies with one-another, much less with the governor of NWFP or with Pakistan's federal government.
Pakistan's federal domestic laws make no specific provision for refugees. In fact, the laws actually undermine the concept of legal protection. The Foreigners Order of October 1951, promulgated pursuant to the Foreigners Act of 1946, gives the power to grant or refuse permission to enter Pakistan to civil authorities at Pakistan's border. Under the Foreigners Order, foreigners not in possession of a passport or visa valid for Pakistan, or those who have not been exempted from the possession of a passport or visa, can be refused leave to enter. There are no specific provisions providing for the granting of entry to asylum-seekers or refugees. The refusal of entry to asylum seekers by the Pakistani authorities undermines the right to seek asylum, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and customary international law as well as numerous Conclusions of UNHCR's ExCom.87 The Foreigners Order also allows civil authorities to restrict the movements and place of residence of foreigners inside Pakistan, as long as these are made in writing.88 Other provisions allow for the arrest and detention of undocumented foreigners.89
In August 2001, there were signs of improvement. The government of Pakistan was motivated to change its policy toward Afghan refugees because of its desire to move them out of the camps in which they were then living. In particular, the government focused on moving refugees from new Jalozai camp, because of land disputes and negative press accounts describing the squalor there; and to close Nasirbagh camp completely because of a real estate development project planned for its location.
These criteria generally adhered to international standards, and in fact represented a potentially marked improvement for the legal protection of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The criteria mirror the Refugee Convention's definition of a refugee,91 and they also reflect elaboration of the refugee definition in regional instruments such as the Organization of African Unity's 1969 Refugee Convention, which states that the term refugee shall apply to people compelled to seek refuge in another country, "owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of [the] country of origin."92
Under the relocation aspect of the program, refugees in need of international protection (category one) and some of those found to be particularly vulnerable (category two) were to be relocated to new Shamshatoo camp, and to other camps located elsewhere in the NWFP. It was not finally decided what would happen with those vulnerable refugees who would be put further at risk if they were moved to a new camp. The third category would be deported from Pakistan to Afghanistan. This would achieve the government's goals of reducing overcrowding in new Jalozai, avoiding ongoing disputes with the landowner, and clearing Nasirbagh for the planned real estate development.
Although not perfect, the agreement provided for improvements in protection for Afghan refugees; however, these were soon lost. UNHCR and the government of Pakistan began screening in mid-August but stopped on August 28, when Pakistan forcibly returned about one hundred and fifty Afghan refugees who had not yet been assessed under the screening program. Yusuf Hasan, UNHCR's spokesman in Islamabad told the Associated Press that the returns were "a clear breach of the August 2 Agreement."93 Reports indicated that the returned Afghans included refugees from Jalozai camp and some unaccompanied children.94 During the ensuing dispute between the government and UNHCR, screening was halted. It started up again on September 3 and lasted for eight more days until the September 11 attacks on the United States.
With the post-September 11 arrival of large numbers of Afghans to Pakistan, the full screening program was not re-instated. Instead, the government of Pakistan maintained its interest in relocating the refugees-a policy goal that re-surfaced in a new initiative in November, 2001.95
Crossing the Border into Pakistan
Pakistan's desire to cooperate with the international coalition against terrorism was also a factor influencing the border closure policy. In the lead-up to the U.S.-led air strikes in Afghanistan, the United States requested Pakistan to keep its borders closed,99 despite the anticipated need for fleeing Afghans to seek safety in neighboring countries and the legal standards allowing for separation of armed individuals or those engaged in military activities from civilian refugees. The border closures undermined the right to seek asylum, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and customary international law. Also as a result of the policy, the Pakistani Frontier Corps personnel and authorities in FATA were officially empowered to impose fines on people who were stopped while crossing. These fines are usually beyond the means of Afghans, who often flee with no money at all.
As a result of Pakistan's increasingly strict border closure policy, and the fines and extortion inside Afghanistan, it became even more dangerous and costly for Afghan refugees to enter Pakistan after September 11, 2001.
Refugees Seeking to Cross Pakistan's Northwest Border
Seventeen-year-old Abdul arrived in Pakistan with his mother and five brothers and sisters. His father remained in Afghanistan. He told Human Rights Watch, "When we fled [in November], we first came to the border of Pakistan at Torkham and that was a very difficult place for us. The border guards would not let us cross there. They took some sticks and hit us to push us away. We were left to sleep in the dust."102 Eventually, however, he and his relatives were able to enter Pakistan through an unofficial route.
Most often, Afghan refugees were stopped at checkpoints located somewhere in the NWFP's FATA on the Pakistani side of the border. These checkpoints were often set up by local tribal authorities, or by local people in FATA with the complicity or acquiescence of the tribal authorities. Latifa, a woman in her thirties, fled with her brother, mother, and son from Kabul on October 15, 2001. They faced problems at the border when tribal people at a high mountain pass stopped them. The people would not let them pass unless they paid money.103
Occasionally, families tried to negotiate with the armed men at these checkpoints. Ghulam, a sixty-year old man, fled first from Kholm and then from Jalalabad to Pakistan on November 3, 2001. He told Human Rights Watch what happened at the border, "We came through the mountains. At one place some tribal people stopped us. They asked us to give 400 rupees for each person. We argued about this and after a while we were able to pay 2,500 for each family."104
Some refugees were unable to negotiate a price they could afford. In such cases, the refugees might be prevented from entering Pakistan or tribal authorities might take matters into their own hands. Raidigul is Tajik from Bagram, just outside of Kabul. She and her family were stopped in the mountains by some tribal authorities. She told Human Rights Watch:
Finally, the conditions in the treacherous mountain crossings were life threatening, especially for children. Noor is from Laghman province. He explained what happened on November 3, 2001, when his family undertook the journey to Pakistan: "When we were crossing the border, my twelve-day-old daughter froze to death because of the cold weather. That was sixteen days ago. We had to bury her in the mountains."106
Refugees Seeking to Cross Pakistan's Southwest Border
Beginning in the first week of November 2001, vulnerable refugees, identified as such by Pakistani Frontier Corps working at the Chaman border crossing point, were allowed to enter Pakistan. The refugees were first brought to the Killi Faizo staging camp, where UNHCR registered them, and NGOs distributed medical aid, food, and non-food assistance items. While this policy was more generous, U.N. officials commented that these "vulnerability" decisions were influenced by bribery and extortion. In addition, one protection problem presented in the first weeks of the vulnerability screening was that women, children, and the elderly were allowed to enter, whereas sometimes men were not. This policy was due to the security concerns of the government of Pakistan, but it was applied to civilian as well as armed men.108 As a result, in the initial stages, some families accompanied by civilian men were separated at Chaman border crossing.109
However, this problem was rectified by mid-November, 2001, and the principle of family unity was thereafter respected by the Frontier Corps personnel.110 As the Killi Faizo camp became more crowded, Roghani and Tor Tanghi camps were developed together with a camp run by the United Arab Emirates, about sixteen kilometers away from Killi Faizo. These were set up as permanent camps, with the capacity to house approximately 50,000 refugees, in contrast to the temporary nature and limited capacity of Killi Faizo.
The government of Pakistan made public calls in late October to establish displaced persons camps near Spin Boldak just inside Afghanistan from the Chaman border crossing, in order to prevent the arrival of more refugees at Chaman.111 Like the announcement to set up similar camps by the government of Iran, this initiative by the government of Pakistan infringed upon Afghans' right to seek asylum. Immediately following the announcement, it was also feared that not only would the government of Pakistan insist that Afghans should not seek asylum, but also those who had reached the relative safety of Pakistan would be forced to return to the Spin Boldak displaced persons camp. In fact, this was the policy for a few days, as announced by Shafi Kakar, a Pakistani official in Baluchistan, who said, "Both sides have agreed that those who have illegally crossed the border and are in Pakistan will be sent back. The Taliban. . .have agreed to set up two refugee camps inside Afghanistan."112 Under this policy, the government of Pakistan sent one group of twenty-five families back to Afghanistan immediately after the October announcements.113
UNHCR and other organizations raised serious concerns about this policy; first that the policy interfered with the right to seek asylum, and second, because the refugees were being returned to a camp run by the Taliban, where there were fears that they would be subject to militarization and forced recruitment. Also, the conditions in the camp of some 60,000 people were dire.114 One report noted, "aside from the shelters, there was little else. Food was scarce. So was water. Toilets were nonexistent. Human excrement littered the sand."115 However, contrary to some of the original fears about the camp, it was later reported that people were not being forced to remain in Spin Boldak,116 and with the Baluchistan governor's agreement to allow vulnerable refugees to enter Pakistan at Chaman, the concerns --- and the forced returns from Pakistan --- subsided.
Occasionally, the relatively more generous policy in Baluchistan created a backlog of families waiting in a "no man's land" to be processed at Killi Faizo. Usually, there were only a few families waiting in this "no man's land," but on a few occasions, the numbers became quite large. Because these families were not yet allowed to enter the Killi Faizo staging camp where NGOs and UNHCR could deliver assistance, they were living in squalid and dire conditions, without shelter, food or water, and sleeping in freezing temperatures at night.117 For one critical span of days from December 4 to December 8, 2001, during the increase in fighting in Kandahar, approximately 2,000 refugees were trapped without protection or assistance waiting to be allowed to enter the Killi Faizo camp.118 The backlog was due to daily numerical limits imposed by the government of Pakistan that were not adjusted for the increase in arrivals. However, by December 9, 2001, the numerical limits had been temporarily lifted and most of the refugees had been registered and allowed to enter the Killi Faizo camp. However, one month later in January 2002, again as a result of increased fighting around Kandahar, a very large group of 13,000 refugees were waiting in the cold and squalor of the no man's land, in hopes of being allowed to enter the Killi Faizo camp.119
Problems Stemming from Lack of Legal Status in Pakistan
According to international standards, refugees who flee persecution and human rights abuse should be recognized and afforded permission to remain regardless of how they enter a country of asylum.121 However, the authorities constantly question the status of Afghan refugees who have entered Pakistan illegally. They lack identity papers or permission to remain, making them even more vulnerable to abuse. North West Frontier Province authorities, such as Iftikhar Hussain Shah, have repeatedly accused the Afghans of being economic migrants rather than genuine refugees.122 At one point, prior to the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan, he said "Our stand on the newcomers is inflexible and unequivocal" and that he hoped to return 70 percent of the Afghan refugees.123 To do so, however, would be a violation of Pakistan's obligations under international law.
Harassment, Extortion, and Imprisonment of Afghan Refugees
One refugee man in his fifties built cages for birds and sold them in the bazaar. He explained what happened in early November on the street in Peshawar: "Here we have to hide ourselves from the police. . . .The policeman stopped me and said I had to have a license for selling. But I do not have this license, and I cannot get one. I knew that policeman wanted money from me, but I had nothing to give him. I had to give him two of my cages instead."126
According to interviews with NGO staff working with the prison population, the percentages of Afghans in prison in NWFP and in Baluchistan are relatively large. For example, in the NWFP prisons during early 2000, 12 percent of juvenile detainees were Afghans.127 Afghans in the NWFP are most often charged with vagrancy under the Vagrancy Act of 1924, violation of Pakistan Penal Code Section 170, or violation of the Pakistan Penal Code Section 188. Under Section 170 a person abets an act when he "engages with one or more other. . .persons in any conspiracy for the doing of an [illegal] thing." Whole groups of juveniles found on the street in the NWFP were often charged with abetment if one youth in the group was suspected of petty crime.128 Section 188 of the Penal Code allows for the imposition of fines or one to six months of imprisonment for "disobedience to an order duly promulgated by [a] public servant." In conjunction with Section 188, Afghans were most often accused of violating the Foreigners Order. For all of these offenses, Section 54 of the Pakistan Criminal Procedure Code allows for the arrest without warrant of "any person who. . .a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been. . . concerned [in any cognizable offence]."
Afghans were also imprisoned under the Foreigners Order, which allows for the "arrest of any foreigner without warrant." Prison authorities at Quetta District Prison told Human Rights Watch that most of the Afghans in their facility were held for violating the Foreigners Act and Order.129 Section 15 of the Foreigners Order requires that the reasons for the detention should be forwarded to the federal government. According to Afghan and Pakistani NGOs working with the prison population, this procedural requirement is rarely met. In addition, rarely do the Afghans in prison have access to legal counsel, although most are held in pre-trial detention with little hope of having their cases heard by the courts. However, access to counsel can produce dramatic results. In one instance in 2001, when the cases of non-criminal Afghan pre-trial detainees were taken up by a local NGO, one hundred and forty-five Afghan prisoners were released.130
Refugees belonging to ethnic minorities, particularly Hazaras, live in crowded and squalid conditions on the outskirts of Quetta. Ethnic minority groups in Quetta consistently complained to Human Rights Watch of more frequent incidents of harassment and official discrimination. Regardless of their ethnic background, all refugees in Quetta suffer from police harassment. Gul Razik, a Pashtun refugee in his twenties, said, "if they stop you on the street and ask for your papers during the day, it usually costs five hundred rupees to be set free. If they catch you after midnight for not having an identity document you will have to pay one to four thousand rupees. Once you are in jail, they will add another fifteen hundred rupees for your family to pay. Sometimes, they beat you in jail."131
Urban Sweeps and Forced Returns
Forced returns to Afghanistan from Pakistan occur on a regular basis.133 Between October 2000 and May 2001, the government forcibly returned some 7,633 Afghans, the majority of whom were men and boys.134 On January 23, 2001, the government of NWFP, and later the Federal Government of Pakistan issued public orders stating that the border should be strictly monitored for illegal immigrants and authorizing the police to detain and deport newly arriving refugees. This order was subsequently re-issued in March 2001 as a NWFP Order to deport people lacking legal status and identification. Returns pursuant to these orders occurred without a hearing or judicial review.135 In the space of a few days in early May 2001, eighty-one Afghan refugees were sent back to Afghanistan, simply because of their undocumented status.136 At the same time, NWFP Governor Lieutenant General Syed Iftikher Hussain Shah announced that Afghan refugees were "economically displaced persons. They are not refugees. They are illegal immigrants and we insist they go back."137
Returns continued even after the U.S.-led bombing campaign began in October 2001, at the rate of close to 300 per month in both October and November from NWFP.138 Amnesty International protested one incident, in which eight Afghan Sikhs were deported without access to a court proceeding.139 Under international standards, refoulement occurs when a refugee is sent back to a place where his or her life or freedom is under threat. During the months of October and November 2001 conditions in Afghanistan were such that all Afghans were being sent to a place where their lives and freedom were under threat. Therefore, these forced returns violated Pakistan's obligations under customary international law.
Often the government of Pakistan calls such forced returns "deportations." Normally, however, deportation is the result of an application of a relevant provision of criminal, immigration, or nationality law to a particular individual. In order to comply with international legal norms, such laws must be uniformly applied during deportation proceedings, and the administrative or judicial process must be fair and impartial. However, the forced returns of Afghans have been imposed effectively because of the refugees' undocumented status without application of uniform standards or the use of any judicial or administrative process. As one UNHCR official noted, "We feel they have not explained the criteria they are using to deport people. . .there have been cases of parents being picked up in the street and deported, with their children left behind."140
In addition to these various forms of forced return, there have been several cases of more systematic urban sweeps of Afghan refugees and shopkeepers, in which large numbers of refugees are rounded up and placed in detention for a few days. One such sweep occurred in Islamabad in the last week of November 2001.141 Often, these urban sweeps disproportionately impact ethnic minority groups within the general Afghan refugee population.142 Throughout the process of these sweeps, refugees who can afford to bribe police attempt to do so either to avoid the initial arrest, or to obtain their release from prison.
Refugees living in urban areas also face general security problems. Many of the newest arrivals seen by Human Rights Watch were living in makeshift shelters, sometimes constructed out of blankets with wood supports. In many cases, refugees described how they had to pay rent to Pakistani landlords in order to put up their tents in small vacant lots squeezed in between other buildings. In other cases, refugees who could not afford to pay rent put up their shelters in places where no-one else wanted to live, such as on top of garbage dumps. One refugee explained the security concerns he had at night when sleeping in a shelter constructed out of blankets and sticks. He said, "In this place, we do not feel safe. During the day it is fine. But during the night, we do not feel safe. I wake up ten to fifteen times every night. I think that I will kill any person who comes and does anything to our women."143
Protection Problems in Camps
Refugees without passbooks have often presented themselves during assistance distributions at the camp commandarie. The distributions can take one of several forms: sometimes refugees with passbooks were simply asked to present themselves at the commandarie; at other times the NGO doing the distribution would give chits to refugees as a means to ensure the most needy received rations; still another form involved using the Pakistani police or block leaders to distribute chits to refugees. This last method was especially open to abuse and corruption, and often left women-headed households without assistance.
In some cases, the numbers of refugees present at the distribution gave rise to crowd control problems. However, in other instances the numbers concerned and their behavior did not warrant the brutality suffered. For example, at the Killi Faizo camp near Chaman on December 5 and 6, Human Rights Watch witnessed afternoon beatings by the Frontier Corps personnel that were disproportionate to any need for crowd control. Refugees living in new Jalozai camp also reported incidences of police brutality and corruption. Nadia, a Tajik refugee from the town of Bagram, told Human Rights Watch:
Muhammad Hussain, a forty-five-year old refugee from Kapisa province said:
A sixteen-year-old refugee girl spoke about what happens when people are kept in the "jail" at the commandarie in Shamshatoo: "The commander takes men and puts them in the jail in the commanderie. He tells them they can pay money to be set free, so they have to pay a 40,000 rupee fine."146
Particular Problems Facing Refugee Women
The frequent incidences of violence during distributions made Afghan refugee women, already unaccustomed to appearing in public places, deeply afraid to go to the distributions in order to collect food. The Pakistani police were known to beat women and children as well as men during distributions.149 In other cases, the women did not have access to the patronage networks that allowed male refugees to obtain chits for their families.150 These problems only exacerbated the already destitute status of these female refugees. One Hazara woman explained, "We do have problems with thieves in the camp. It is also a problem for me to go to the commandarie to get assistance. . . .Me as a woman alone, I cannot go. They bring the assistance to one man, a commander, and it does not reach everyone in the camp. Only a few get that assistance. It goes to Pashtuns and Tajiks."151 UNHCR has long pointed to the problems presented by such male-dominated distribution networks, "decisions about food and other items of distribution are generally made by international organizations and host countries in consultation with the male leaders of the camp. Yet, these male leaders may have little understanding of the needs and circumstances of . . . women."152
In addition to police brutality in the camps, refugee women reported generally about their security concerns.153 One woman said, "In this camp, there are many strange men and many different people -- I have to wear the burqa to feel safe."154 A refugee woman living in new Jalozai camp said, "we have no security in this camp, what we have is not a house, it is covered with plastic but it is not even good to keep out the rain. We have no door to lock."155 Another refugee woman said, "I am afraid of going to [Kotkai camp] because we have heard that there are a lot of restrictions and people cannot go to the toilet easily, because there are a lot of police there and we will not be safe. I am afraid of fighting and war. They will take the men from us to do fighting. Then who will protect us from all this violence?"156 Even once they were in Kotkai camp, refugee women continued to fear for their safety.157
Refugees also reported abductions of teenage girls from new Jalozai and Shamshatoo camps. One incident, reported independently by two refugee women, allegedly occurred in late October, 2001 in Shamshatoo camp. A man who had entered the camp as a taxi driver took a teenage girl from the camp.158
Other refugees in urban settings, particularly in Peshawar, reported anecdotally about destitute women and girls resorting to prostitution.159 Finally, Human Rights Watch received anecdotal accounts of domestic violence from refugee women. One woman explained how the frustrations of life in a refugee camp had impacted her domestic life: "now, my husband does not smoke cigarettes. He takes naswar160 now because it is cheaper than tobacco, but this makes him angry with me. He also lost his job in the carpet factory here and now he is just frustrated. He becomes angry very easily."161
Particular Problems Facing Refugee Children
UNHCR recognizes the importance of working with NGOs and host governments to provide, at a minimum, basic primary education in literacy and numeracy to refugee children.162 Pakistan, as a member of ExCom, in Conclusion No. 47, called for the intensification of "efforts. . .to ensure that all refugee children benefit from primary education of a satisfactory quality." 163
Some refugee parents explained that not only were their children not at school in Pakistan, but they had either never been to school or had their schooling seriously interrupted in Afghanistan.164 For example, one refugee living in a makeshift shelter in urban Peshawar said, "We have spent our whole life in fighting. Our sons have not been to school."165 Another mother explained how the bombing had interrupted her sons' education, "When we fled, my two sons were just about to take exams before the bombing came. They were unable to take the exams and will have to repeat their schoolwork if they are able to go home."166 Abdul, who was living in new Jalozai and was seventeen years old, was eager for educational opportunities. He said, "Here we face many problems and they do not send us to school."167
One of the few international human rights treaties that Pakistan is party to is the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 22 requires that refugee children should receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of the rights enumerated in the Convention. Articles 28 and 29 set forth the rights to education that Pakistan should ensure. One pertinent requirement, contained in article 28 is that states parties shall "make primary education compulsory and available free to all." Given that many refugee children located in new Jalozai camp were not given access to primary schooling, Pakistan is falling short of its international obligations.
However, refugee families also often chose not to send their children to school, especially when the only schooling options required paying fees. Families explained how they had to send their male children to work as opposed to school in order to supplement the family's income. Girl refugee children were usually kept at home with their mothers. In Peshawar, some refugee children living in the Tajarabat area worked as garbage pickers for a few rupees a day. Many refugee children in Peshawar were also working in brick factories, in carpet factories, and with shoe repair shops.168 Hamida, a mother of two, explained to Human Rights Watch that "my fifteen-year old son is sick and my other son polishes shoes, I cannot pay for them to go to school." In Quetta, children most commonly worked in the carpet factories. However, many families reported that their children had lost their jobs since the carpet industry was in a slump during October and November, 2001.169
Other refugee children faced other serious problems when they were moved from the camps they were living in and withdrawn from a supplementary feeding program being run in new Jalozai camp.170 Also problematic were the reported incidences of abductions and prostitution occurring among girl refugees, described in the previous section.
Pakistan's International Obligations to Refugees
83 It should also be noted that many refugees surrendered these passbooks in order to qualify for repatriation assistance in the early 1990s, but were ultimately unable to return. In addition, UN officials commented that legal protection was less practically necessary during this time because the government was not as overtly hostile to the refugees' presence.
85 In 2000 Pakistan passed the Foreigners (Amendment) Ordinance, which establishes a National Aliens Registration Authority (NARA). On January 4, 2001 this authority was established by the government to register foreigners living in Pakistan without permission to remain and to issue work permits to those seeking employment. Despite the fact that the Ordinance embraces the concept of undocumented aliens, and would by its terms allow for the registration of recently arrived Afghan refugees, the government never indicated that Afghans would be included in the registration. In addition, NARA has not begun its work of registering aliens in Pakistan.
87 See, e.g. ExCom Conclusions No. 52, International Solidarity and Refugee Protection, 1988, No. 71, General Conclusion on International Protection, 1993; No. 75, Internally Displaced Persons, 1994; No. 77, General Conclusion on International Protection, 1995; and No. 85, General Conclusion on International Protection, 1998. Excom Conclusion No. 77 states that the ExCom "reaffirms that respect for fundamental humanitarian principles, including safeguarding the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution, and full regard for the principle of non refoulement is incumbent on all members of the international community; and urges the continued commitment of States to receive and host refugees and ensure their protection in accordance with accepted legal principles."
89 See discussion of protection problems for urban refugees, see here
91 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 1(A) defines a refugee as a person who, "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
95 See section of this report entitled "Refugee Relocation,"
99 See e.g. The Associated Press, "Bush Anti-Terror Aid Request Doubled," September 13, 2001; Barry Schweid, "Powell Reaches Out to Arab Nations," The Associated Press, September 14, 2001 (noting that "Pakistan is ready to agree to the United States' request that it close its border with Afghanistan"); Barbara Slavin and Bill Nichols, "U.S. Pressures Pakistan To Assist In Bringing In Bin Laden," USA Today, September 14, 2001 ("According to administration and Congressional sources, Pakistan is being pressured to . . . . close the border with Afghanistan"). As the conflict in Afghanistan continued, the White House expressed its appreciation to Pakistan for "doing everything it can to be helpful to arrest any movement back and forth across the border." Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, Office of the Press Secretary, November 19, 2001, available at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases.
107 The divergent policies towards refugees in Baluchistan and NWFP were attributed to the differing attitudes of the two local governors. Human Rights Watch interview with protection staff of relief NGO, Peshawar, Pakistan, November 13, 2001.
109 The preservation of family unity is a crucial aspect of refugee protection and is reflected in UNHCR's Refugee Children: Guidelines on Protection and Care, 1994, p. 43, and p. 124. See also ExCom Conclusion No. 22, Protection of Asylum Seekers in Situation of Large-Scale Influx, 1981 (stating that "family unity should be respected"); ExCom Conclusion No. 24, Family Reunification, 1981; Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7 (stating that every child has the right "to know and be cared for by his or her parents."); UNHCR, Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, 1991, ¶ 32 (noting that "when women and girls are separated from male family members in the chaos of flight. . .they are especially susceptible to physical abuse and rape.").
111 One of the most widely reported calls for camps inside Afghanistan occurred on October 23, 2001 when President General Pervez Musharraf said on CNN's Larry King Live, "our point of view has always been that we must establish camps across the border in Afghanistan and all assistance to the refugees must be given there, so that people go back to Afghanistan instead of making them comfortable here in Pakistan." See also Haroon Rashid, "Pakistan: Some Afghan Refugees To Be Repatriated To Camps Inside Afghanistan," The Associated Press, October 23, 2001.
121 See, e.g. Refugee Convention, Article 31 ("The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees."). See also UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, 1976 (reedited January, 1992) ¶ 196 (noting that "In most cases a person fleeing from persecution will have arrived with the barest necessities and very frequently even without personal documents.").
124 One refugee from Bamiyan province noted that police harassment can have a disparate impact on refugees who are Tajik or Uzbek. He said, "it is more difficult for them because they do not speak Urdu or Pashto." Human Rights Watch interview, Muhammed Gulgari neighborhood, Peshawar, November 15, 2001.
133 For example, in 1999 over 150 Hazara male refugees were forced back from Quetta after being placed in detention in Quetta prisons under the Foreigners Act (1964). See U.N. Study on Forced Returns of Afghans from Pakistan, May 2001.
135 The March announcement was protested by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, for being a violation of due process of law. See "HRCP Flays Government Move to Deport Afghan Refugees," The Dawn, March 8, 2001.
140 Meriel Beattie, "80,000 Refugees Are Trapped In Freezing Corner Of Pakistan," The Independent, February 10, 2001. When families are separated due to such standardless deportations, the principle of family unity is undermined. See note 109, supra.
147 One Afghan women's NGO interviewed by Human Rights Watch also particularly pointed to the lack of female security staff during assistance distributions. Human Rights Watch interview with Afghan Women's NGO staff member, November 22, 2001.
150 The predominance of such patronage networks is contrary to UNHCR's guideline that "refugee women [should] have access to whatever process is used to determine eligibility for assistance." See UNHCR Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, 1991, ¶ 45. It is also contrary to Pakistan's obligations under ExCom Conclusion No. 64, Refugee Women and International Protection, 1990, which urges states to "provide all refugee women and girls with effective and equitable access to basic services, including food, water and relief supplies."
153 The need to address these problems is recognized in the UNHCR Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, 1991, ¶ 79 (noting that "[t]he physical circumstances in which refugees are housed affect their safety. Too often refugee women face dangers stemming from poor design of camps: for example. . .location of basic services and facilities such as latrines.") and ¶ 80 (stating that "in many refugee situations, strangers are thrown together in new settings. . .women headed households may be intermixed with single men under circumstances that undermine efforts to provide protection.). See also ExCom Conclusion No. 64, Refugee Women and International Protection, 1990.
158 Human Rights Watch interview, Shamshatoo camp, November 17, 2001. ExCom Conclusion No. 84, Refugee Children and Adolescents, 1997, urges states and concerned parties to protect child and adolescent refugees by "safeguarding the physical security of refugee children and adolescents" by "safeguarding the physical security of refugee children and adolescents, securing the location of camps and settlements at a reasonable distance from the frontiers of countries of origin, and taking steps to preserve the civilian character and humanitarian nature of refugee camps and settlements"; and by "preventing sexual violence, exploitation, trafficking and abuse."
159 See also BBC on line, "Inside a Peshawar Brothel," December 19, 2001, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/. UNHCR has recognized the fact that poverty can force refugee women into prostitution, "the failure to address adequately the assistance needs of refugee women has had serious repercussions in the form of sexual exploitation. . . some refugee women have been forced into prostitution for lack of assistance." See UNHCR, Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, 1991, ¶ 40.
164 UNICEF estimates that only thirty-six percent of Afghan boys inside Afghanistan are in school. See Larry Kaplow, "The Businessman: Hamidullah, 9," The Atlanta Journal - Constitution, January 6, 2002.
168 While Human Rights Watch did not visit the places where children were working, staff from international organizations and local NGOs described the conditions of work as unhealthy for children. This is contrary to the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182), to which Pakistan became a party in October, 2001. The Convention states that the worst forms of child labour include "work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children." States parties to the Convention are to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour "as a matter of urgency." In addition, the need to protect refugee children from employment that is dangerous to their health or to interfere with their education and development is recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 32, and in UNHCR's Refugee Children: Guidelines on Protection and Care, 1994, p. 84.
170 See section of this report entitled "Assistance Improved,"