Amnesty International Statement

Pakistan expels Afghan professor

June 24, 2000

PESHAWAR (NNI): Pakistan Friday expelled an Afghan professor on charges of carrying out anti-Pakistan activities, official sources told NNI.

Professor Ilham, residing in Peshawar, was deported to Afghanistan via Torkham border.

He was accused of delivering lectures against Pakistan as well as Islam in Afghan refugee camps in the neighbourhood of Peshawar. The professor was suspected of promoting communism, the sources added.

Amnesty International, 29 June 2000 (Index: ASA 11/02/00)

Fear of Safety/Forcible return

Professor Mohammad Rahim Elham

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Professor Mohammad Rahim Elham, an Afghan refugee living in Pakistan who was reportedly deported in handcuffs to Afghanistan at the Torkham border post on 21 June 2000. He may face detention, torture or even extra-judicial execution in Afghanistan.

Mr. Elham, a Pushtun, is a prominent scholar and former lecturer in the faculty of literature at Kabul University and a member of the Academy of Science of Afghanistan. After fleeing to Pakistan Mr. Elham was employed by a German sponsored non-governmental organization, which works with Afghan refugees in the North West Frontier Province.

According to reports, the Pakistani authorities have cited as reasons for Mr. Elham's deportation his alleged anti-Pakistan statements, including accusing Pakistan of interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

While the Taleban foreign minister has said that Mr. Elham will be safe inside Afghanistan provided he respects the law, Amnesty International has no information about his safety or whereabouts.

The forcible deportation of Professor Elham is in breach of a recent agreement between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Pakistan to jointly assess refugee claims prior to deportation. The Government of Pakistan has yet to respond to a call by the UNHCR for an assessment of Elham's case, the first under the new agreement. Pakistan has also breeched the fundamental principle of non-refoulement - not forcibly returning any person to a country where they may be in danger - which is considered to be a rule of customary international law.

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