Pakistan

Detains migrants or asylum seekers?

Yes

Has laws regulating migration-related detention?

Yes

Refugees

2,080,501

2023

Asylum Applications

48,839

2023

International Migrants

3,276,580

2020

Population

240,200,000

2023

Overview

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries, with the majority of refugees coming from Afghanistan. The country has not implemented a national asylum system and it is not a party to the UN Refugee Convention. There have been numerous reports of refugees being arrested during raids, arbitrarily detained, and summarily deported. There has been an escalating crackdown since a new wave of Afghan refugees began arriving after the 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Refugees have been detained in various criminal facilities, as the country does not operate dedicated immigration detention facilities.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

Afghan Refugees Ordered to Leave Pakistan, or Face Deportation

Amidst a crackdown against undocumented Afghans residing in the country, Pakistan’s authorities have ordered all undocumented Afghans to leave by 1 November or face deportation. In recent weeks, hundreds of refugees have been arrested and detained on the grounds that they do not have adequate paperwork. According to reports, at least four refugees have died […]

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08 April 2020 – Pakistan

There are reports indicating that Pakistani authorities have taken some steps to mitigate the impact of the virus on the country’s prison population, which includes non-citizen detainees imprisoned under the 1946 Foreigners Act. The government has suspended visits to penitentiaries and court hearings. On 16 March, the Sindh provincial government began screening inmates and prison […]

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A Volunteer Checks the Temperature of Passengers Arriving at a Railway Station in Peshawar, AP Photo, 17 March 2020, (https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/pakistan-prisoners-risk-covid-19)
Last updated: October 2023

DETENTION STATISTICS

Migration Detainee Entries
Not Available
2019

DETAINEE DATA

Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
0
2017

DETENTION CAPACITY

ALTERNATIVES TO DETENTION

ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT DATA

PRISON DATA

Criminal Prison Population (Year)
80,169
2015
74,944
2012
75,586
2010
95,016
2007
89,370
2005
90,000
2002
74,485
1999
72,700
1996
68,453
1993
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
1.2
2007
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
43
2015
41
2012
43
2010
58
2007
57
2005
60
2002
54
1999
56
1996
58
1993

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
240,200,000
2023
220,900,000
2020
188,925,000
2015
International Migrants (Year)
3,276,580
2020
3,257,978
2019
3,629,000
2015
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
1.48
2020
1.9
2015
Refugees (Year)
2,080,501
2023
1,491,070
2021
1,438,940
2020
1,419,596
2019
1,404,019
2018
1,393,143
2017
1,352,551
2016
1,561,162
2015
1,505,525
2014
Ratio of Refugees Per 1000 Inhabitants (Year)
7.01
2016
8.14
2014
Asylum Applications (Year)
48,839
2023
3,606
2019
6,302
2016
5,818
2014
Refugee Recognition Rate (Year)
37
2014
Stateless Persons (Year)
59
2023
0
2016
0
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
1,316
2014
Remittances to the Country (in USD)
17,060
2014
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
3,611.9
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
147 (Low)
2015
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
70
2007

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

Does the Country Detain People for Migration, Asylum, or Citizenship Reasons?
Yes
2023
Does the Country Have Specific Laws that Provide for Migration-Related Detention?
Yes
2024
Bilateral/Multilateral Readmission Agreements
EU (2010)
2017
Legal Tradition(s)
Muslim law
2017
Common law
2017

GROUNDS FOR DETENTION

LENGTH OF DETENTION

DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

COSTS & OUTSOURCING

COVID-19 DATA

TRANSPARENCY

MONITORING

NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING BODIES

NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISMS (OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE)

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs)

GOVERNMENTAL MONITORING BODIES

INTERNATIONAL DETENTION MONITORING

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES & TREATY BODIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2011
2011
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
2010
2010
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2010
2010
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
2008
2008
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1996
1996
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1990
1990
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
1969
1969
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1966
1966
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 8/19
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
0/7
2017
Relevant Recommendations or Observations Issued by Treaty Bodies
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Committee against Torture 34.While commending the State party for hosting millions of refugees, many of them Afghans, the Committee is concerned about recent documented reports of coercion, including threats of deportation and police abuse, extortion, raids and arbitrary detention, to return Afghans, including registered refugees, to their country of origin where they could be at risk of persecution, torture or ill-treatment. The Committee regrets the lack of a legal framework for refugees and asylum seekers (art. 3). 2017
2017
Committee on the Rights of the Child § 66. "The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to: (a) Consider adopting a national refugee law in accordance with international standards and continue to host refugees, especially families with children and unaccompanied children; (b) Ensure that all children born to refugees, including those who do not hold proof of registration cards, asylum seekers and stateless persons, are registered at birth; (c) Integrate refugee and asylum-seeking children into national and provincial education systems on equal terms with nationals of the State party; (d) Provide refugees, in particular families with children, with adequate housing and provide shelter to those who live in the streets; (e) Enforce legal measures against child and bonded labour involving refugee, asylum-seeking and stateless children; (f) Prevent and protect refugee, asylum-seeking and stateless children from falling victim to early marriage, abuse, trafficking or religious radicalization; (g) Ensure the equal implementation of its citizenship laws with a view to extending citizenship to Bengali, Bihari and Rohingya children; (h) Consider ratifying the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, as well as the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness." 2016
2016

> UN Special Procedures

> UN Universal Periodic Review

Relevant Recommendations or Observations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2012
2017
No 2008
2017

> Global Compact for Migration (GCM)

GCM Resolution Endorsement
Observation Date
2018

> Global Compact on Refugees (GCR)

GCR Resolution Endorsement
Observation Date
2018

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

HEALTH CARE PROVISION

HEALTH IMPACTS

COVID-19

Country Updates
There are reports indicating that Pakistani authorities have taken some steps to mitigate the impact of the virus on the country’s prison population, which includes non-citizen detainees imprisoned under the 1946 Foreigners Act. The government has suspended visits to penitentiaries and court hearings. On 16 March, the Sindh provincial government began screening inmates and prison staff for Covid-19, while the Punjab government announced that it was creating isolation centres for prisoners. However, critical concerns remain and there is increasing pressure to implement additional measures as the crisis becomes more acute. On 19 March, Human Rights Watch amplified calls to protect prisoners, urging the country’s authorities to take urgent steps to ensure that prisoners and detainees have access to adequate medical care and protective measures against Covid-19. Amnesty International and Justice Project Pakistan also urged authorities to take measures to protect prisoners. The Justice Project Pakistan urged the government to “devise a coherent approach to protecting its prison population, currently at over 77,000 individuals. Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centres will become epicentres for the transmission of Covid-19.” On 24 March 2020, the first case of Covid-19 within a prison was confirmed. On the same day, the Islamabad High Court ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners involved in petty crimes on bail, in a bid to reduce the hazards of the Covid-19 outbreak in jails. Since then, several provincial governments have ordered the release of prisoners: on 28 March, the Punjab government’s Home Department announced that it would be releasing 20,000 prisoners out of 46,000 from the 41 jails across the province (and bail applications have been made for prisoners who committed petty crimes and for those over the age of 60); and on 30 March, the Sindh government approved the temporary release for three months of around 4,000 prisoners. (Government officials hinted that drug smugglers and those convicted of terrorism may not be released. Prisoners convicted of “minor” crimes would be eligible for temporary release. It was reported that there were around 16,024 prisoners for 13,538 places in all prisons across the Sindh). The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa also announced that they would release prisoners 60 days early.
Did the country release immigration detainees as a result of the pandemic?
No
2020
Did the country use legal "alternatives to detention" as part of pandemic detention releases?
Unknown
2021
Did the country Temporarily Cease or Restrict Issuing Detention Orders?
Unknown
2021
Did the Country Adopt These Pandemic-Related Measures for People in Immigration Detention?
Yes (Unknown) Unknown Unknown Yes
2020
Did the Country Lock-Down Previously "Open" Reception Facilities, Shelters, Refugee Camps, or Other Forms of Accommodation for Migrant Workers or Other Non-Citizens?
Yes
2020
Were cases of COVID-19 reported in immigration detention facilities or any other places used for immigration detention purposes?
Yes
2020
Did the Country Cease or Restrict Deportations/Removals During any Period After the Onset of the Pandemic?
No
2021
Did the Country Release People from Criminal Prisons During the Pandemic?
Yes
2021
Did Officials Blame Migrants, Asylum Seekers, or Refugees for the Spread of COVID-19?
Unknown
2021
Did the Country Restrict Access to Asylum Procedures?
Yes but restrictons ended
2020
Did the Country Commence a National Vaccination Campaign?
Yes
2021
Were Populations of Concern Included/Excluded From the National Vaccination Campaign?
Unknown (Unknown) Unknown Unknown Unknown
2021