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HRW appeals Lankan government to shelter Pakistani refugees

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The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the government of Sri Lanka to give permission of stay to the members of minorities of Pakistan until the UN refugee agency establishes its decision for their international shield.

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At least 142 Pakistanis are detained during police raids in Sri Lanka in June 2014 and are at a risk of deportation, an HRW report says. Majority of the arrested, are members of the Ahmadi community although a few detainees also include Shia Muslims and Christains.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has took a determined six groups as refugees however, the agency has not given full access to the detainees who are put in Boosa detention centre.

Media reports quoted Immigration Controller Chulananda Perera as saying that the Sri Lankan government could deport the detained Pakistanis because it had not sanctioned them to register asylum claims.

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“Sri Lankan authorities are threatening Pakistani minority group members with deportation at the very time when persecution of these groups is escalating in Pakistan,” said Bill Frelick, UN refugees director.

“Preventing asylum seekers from lodging claims in no way absolves Sri Lanka from its duty not to return them to possible persecution.”

According to the international law, governments cannot force the refugees to return to their origins where they would face persecution. The same law is valid, in case an asylum seeker prevented from applying for his claim.

The reported raids were made on June 9 in Negombo, which is a major city for Pakistani refugees. In 2013, UNHCR registered nearly 1,500 refugee claims of Pakistanis in Sri Lanka.

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