HRCP condemns deportation of refugees

"ISI and Pakistani government equally responsible for the plight of Afghan people", Asma Jehangir

Dawn, May 20, 2001


PESHAWAR, May 19: Condemning the deportation of Afghan refugees by the government, former chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jehangir, said on Saturday that the commission has been studying prospects of provision of legal status to the refugees.

"Along with the international community, the ISI and Pakistani government are equally responsible for the plight of Afghan people," said Asma Jehangir giving a joint press briefing with HRCP Chairperson Afrasiab Khattak and director, I.A. Rehman, at the Peshawar Press Club.

Afrasiab Khattak said that the fact finding team had visited Jalozai refugee camp and Central Prison Peshawar. "At Jalozai refugee camp we have seen moving scenes as human beings have been living in dehumanising condition," he said.

The inmates of the camp, he said, had been dying of scorching heat and starvation, and no proper medical treatment or medicines were available there.

He regretted that when the Afghan people were engaged in "holy war" the international community supported them and now after achieving their objectives the community had dumped them. "The Afghan tragedy is now a forgotten tragedy," Mr Khattak stated.

The HRCP team claimed that the deportation of Afghan refugees was an inhuman, illegal and unconstitutional act. They asked how could people be dumped in a bus and left across the border without any court orders.

They said: "these people have been dwelling here and the laws of the land are equally applicable to them," adding "you prepared faulty policies for them and now they are burden on you."

These policy makers, Asma said, had committed crimes against humanity.

I.A. Rehman said that there was no law in Pakistan dealing with refugees.

These refugees, they said, were not here for the sake of fun. They said: "most of the refugees claimed that their females were taken away by the Northern alliance and boys snatched by the Taliban, and to save rest of the boys and girls they had to cross over to Pakistan."

PRISON CONDITIONS: The HRCP's office bearers said that the situation in prison was also gloomy as like rest of the prisons, the Central Prison Peshawar was also overcrowded. Afrasiab said that large number of children and females had been booked under section 107/109 of Criminal Procedure Code, dealing with public tranquillity. Under the said sections, he added, people could not be kept in prison for large durations, but still children and women were behind the bars.

He said that although judicial and executive magistrates conducted visits to the prison but large number of petty cases pertained to additional sessions judges, therefore the government should depute sessions judges for visits to prisons.

Due to the oppressive Control of Narcotics Substance Act, he said, a large number of children and women, used as narcotics carriers, had been languishing in prison. "Under the said law, there is no classification of a drug trafficker and drug carrier and due to same reasons the traffickers have been roaming free whereas carriers have been facing charges carrying death penalty."

POLITICAL SITUATION: Asma Jehangir said that the commission had always condemned ban on political activities and would also condemn ban on activities of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy.

She added that such bans gave rise to different mafias. "We are heading towards a major disaster as on the one hand there is ban on political activities and on the other hand sectarian violence is on the rise," she stated.

HRCP terms Afghans deportation illegal

Refugees: "Northern Alliance took away girls and Taliban boys from us"

The News International, May 20, 2001


PESHAWAR: Terming deportation of Afghan refugees without fulfilling legal, requirement illegal, unconstitutional and violation of international law, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, (HRCP) said it would draw future line of action to stop the ongoing injustices with them.

"It's not the job of police to deport illegal immigrants. Only courts will decide. The HRCP is working to take legal action. Pakistan is the only country, which faces refugee problems from the day one, but it framed no law. Unfortunately the government is also unaware as to whom it had extradition treaty," said former chair person of HRCP and UN reporter on human rights, Asma Jehangir while briefing newsmen about the details of her visit to Jalozai makeshift refugee camps and central jail Peshawar on Saturday.

The HRCP delegation comprising the central chairman, Afraiyab Khattak, I A Rehman, Tariq Khan, and office-bearers of the provincial chapter visited Jalozai refugee camp and central jail Peshawar.

Asma said it was the responsibility of every citizen to think as to why these refugees migrated to Pakistan and who is responsible for their tragedies. She held the ISI responsible for the human tragedies, saying if it did not change its previous policy, the fire would also engulf this region. All those who had adopted silence over the ongoing injustices against humanity, would not save themselves from destruction, she added.

Quoting helpless refugees in Jalozai camp, the emotional Asma said: "We had fled Afghanistan to save our lives. The Northern Alliance took away girls and Taliban boys from us." She said they were living here under open sky in this summer. She posed a question as to whether ongoing war between the Taliban and northern Alliance was a jihad. She said the war in Afghanistan is continued only because we (Pakistan) are providing oil to the Taliban. This is a crime against Afghans and those destroying the lives and properties of helpless Afghans were criminals, she added.

Asma Jehangir expressed concern over the miserable condition of children and women in central jail. She said the government was building castles in the air but adopted mum over the destruction of their nation. She deplored the role of magistrates saying they sent the poor children under section 109 to jails.

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