UNHCR chief calls on states to respect non-refoulement after North Koreans deported from Laos

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There's grave concern over the safety and security of nine North Koreans who were reportedly deported from Laos to China.

According to the UN refugee agency –UNHCR, it received information that the group of nine – including five children – were arrested in the Lao People's Democratic Republic on 10 May and deported to the People's Republic of China on 27 May.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, expressed concern that the deported individuals did not have a chance to have their asylum claims assessed.

High Commissioner Guterres said "UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety and fundamental human rights of these individuals if they are returned to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea".

Guterres strongly called on all states to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement as a core tenet of customary international law, and refrain from any future measure that could directly or indirectly lead to the return of a person to a country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened.

UNHCR says it is seeking information on the whereabouts of the nine North Koreans. It is also in contact with the authorities in Laos to establish the initial facts behind this incident and to prevent any future deportation of people of concern.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’11″

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