China deports minors back to North KoreaListen /
A group on nine North Korean minors who were arrested in Laos earlier this week, have been forcibly returned to their country by Chinese authorities, according to the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR).
The minors were handed over to authorities in Beijing after they were arrested trying to enter Laos.
The UN Human Rights office says it was concerned that the minors may be subjected to cruel and harsh treatment including torture by North Korean authorities.
Rupert Colville is the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.
"The situation of people who are forcibly returned to North Korea has been a constant source of concern for many years. They can get severely punished for merely leaving the country. We believe they are at risk of severe punishment and ill-treatment upon their return. We are dismayed that the Governments of Laos and China appear to have abrogated their non-refoulement obligations, especially given the vulnerability of this group, all of whom are reported to be orphans. We urge the Chinese and Laotian authorities to publicly clarify the fate of the nine young North Koreans, as well as the conditions under which they were returned, and request the Government of DPRK to provide immediate access to the group by independent actors to verify their status and treatment."
The UN High Commissioner Refugees (UNHCR) says although Laos was not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees, it was bound by international law offer protection to individuals whose safety and well being are likely to be threatened upon return to their countries of origin.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva