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Pakistan: Summary of Legal Assistance and Aid Programme, March 2018

Countries
Pakistan
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Sources
UNHCR
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Key findings

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.[1]

In March 2018, UNHCR and its partners provided legal assistance to a total of 3,236 persons of concern compared to 3,957 in February 2018. During the month, UNHCR and its partners intervened at police stations for 79 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 22 persons of concern charged under the Foreigners Act and other preventive laws subsequently resulting in their release by the orders of the courts.

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 29% in the month of March 2018 as compared to the month of February 2018. Additionally, 75% decrease has been observed in the month of March 2018 in comparison with the arrest and detention figures of March 2017. The extension in the validity of PoR card until 30 June 2018 was announced in February 2018. However, the actual notification has been issued on 20 March which has been timely and widely circulated to the LEAs and refugee communities by UNHCR and partners.

[1] 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 / detenƟons / ** IntervenƟons made by ALAC at police staƟons to secure the release of PoCs.

Note: In January 2018, the FronƟer Corps (FC) in QueƩa undertook security operaƟons that resulted in the apprehension of Afghans including registered Afghan refugees. Among those arrested, 40 PoR cardholders were deported to Afghanistan without due process.