This report updates the COI Focus of 10 October 2016 entitled Het risico bij terugkeer in geval van gedwongen verwijdering [Risks upon return in case of forced removal]. The report describes the position of the Pakistani authorities regarding their nationals who return to Pakistan after they left illegally and/or filed an application for international protection in Belgium and/or resided in Belgium. Treatment by the Pakistani authorities of returnees with a political, ethnic, religious or terrorist profile will not be examined.
This report covers the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2019.
Return to the country of origin is considered when a foreigner does no longer meet the conditions for his/her legal stay in Belgium. This return can be voluntary or forced. Voluntary return means that the decision to return lies with the foreign national, who can organize his/her journey by him/herself or can appeal to a return program coordinated by the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) and organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or the Immigration Office (IO). Forced return means that the host country sends back the person against his/her will to the country of origin. The IO organizes this return.
There is labour migration from Pakistan to the UAE. Pakistanis also migrate to European countries and the United States. High unemployment rates, low wages, an unstable political and social situation are often mentioned as reasons for leaving Pakistan. According to EASO figures, in March 2019 Pakistan was among the top ten countries for applications for international protection in the EU+. In 2017, 260 Pakistanis filed an application for international protection in Belgium. In 2018, 195 Pakistanis filed such an application in Belgium.
According to IOM Belgium, 12 Pakistanis voluntarily returned between 1 January 2018 and 31 March 2019. Figures from the IO show that during the same period, the Belgian authorities carried out 15 forced removals to Pakistan.
Migration to another country is not forbidden under Pakistani law. The consulted sources show that legal provisions in the Passport Act 1974 and the Emigration Ordinance 1979 can lead to arrest or legal prosecution upon return. Moreover, Pakistanis can also be charged upon their return according to Pakistani criminal law and to the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance. In November 2015, Pakistan unilaterally suspended a readmission agreement concluded in 2009 with the EU, with the exception of the United Kingdom. In February 2016, Pakistan and the EU negotiated a new agreement and Pakistan started again to admit expelled nationals. Greece and Turkey also send back Pakistani nationals to their home country.
The FIA is the authority responsible for controlling persons who enter and leave Pakistan. In most cases, according to the consulted sources, the persons concerned are transferred to the FIA at the airport, are briefly detained for the purpose of interrogation, and are then sent home.
The Pakistani English-language press and reports from national and international human rights organizations do not mention any human rights violations of persons who return (forcibly) to Pakistan. Neither the IO nor IOM Belgium are aware of problems or human rights violations upon a return to Pakistan during the reporting period of this COI Focus.
The security and human rights situation in Pakistan is problematic. Many citizens of Pakistan are being exposed to ethno-political or sectarian violence and the Pakistani authorities are often unable or unwilling to offer protection. The majority of the violence in Pakistan can be attributed to the terror organisations that are active in the country. The terror organisations primarily target members of the security services and the army, members of religious minorities and the police force. In addition, Pakistan sometimes sees large-scale attacks aiming to cause a maximum number of casualties within a specific community. Religious minorities, primarily Shi’a Muslims, are generally targeted. However, such attacks are rather the exception than the rule. The security situation in the country is further influenced by the armed conflict between extremist elements and government troops in the north-west of the country as well as by the nationalist uprising in Baluchistan.