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Nine North Korean refugees at risk of imminent repatriation, UN issues statement
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Date :
2015-11-23 18:00:35
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Nine North Korean refugees, including an 11-month old baby, are at risk of being imminently sent back to North Korea. NKHR calls on China to refrain from forcibly sending the nine refugees back to North Korea, where they would face torture and imprisonment.

 

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is "alarmed" about the situation and "urge[s] all concerned governments to refrain from forcibly returning individuals who have fled the DPRK." Read the UN statement below. 

 

Press briefing note on China, Thailand, Viet Nam and Democratic People's Republic of Korea


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 20 November 2015 
Subjects:    (1) Thailand / China and (2) Viet Nam / DPRK

(1) Thailand / China


[...]
 

(2) Viet Nam / DPRK

We are alarmed at reports that nine North Korean nationals, including a one-year-old infant and a teenager, were arrested in Viet Nam last month and subsequently transferred to China. There are fears that they may be – or may already have been – repatriated to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) where they would be at risk of very serious human rights violations. 

According to information we have received, the nine North Korean nationals, as well as another child who has a North Korean mother and Chinese father, were arrested in Viet Nam on 22 October 2015. Several days later, the group was reportedly sent to Dongxing, a Chinese town at the border with Viet Nam.

On 17 November, the group allegedly arrived at Shenyang in China, close to the DPRK border. The group of nine North Korean nationals has since reportedly been taken out of the city, while the other child was left behind. It is believed that the group is being escorted by the Chinese authorities. The current whereabouts of the nine individuals are unknown. This series of events strongly suggests that the group is at imminent risk of being repatriated to the DPRK – and we are gravely concerned that they may already have been returned.

The 2014 report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK found that people who are forcibly repatriated to the DPRK are commonly subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, summary execution, forced abortions and other sexual violence. The Commission called on China and other countries to respect the principle of non-refoulement, particularly noting China’s policy to forcibly repatriate any North Korean without proper documentation. The Committee Against Torture has also stressed that “under no circumstances should the State party expel, return or extradite a person to a State where there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture”.

We urge the Chinese and Vietnamese authorities to publicly clarify the fate of the nine North Korean nationals. We further urge all concerned governments to refrain from forcibly returning individuals who have fled the DPRK.

ENDS
For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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