Joint Statement on the Principle of Non-Refoulement and the Recent Forced Deportations of the Uighurs from Cambodia and the Lao Hmong from Thailand

Originally Published by Suara Rakyat Malaysia, 14 January 2010

We, the undersigned, condemn the actions in the last days of 2009 of some Asian governments in requesting, encouraging and performing the forcible deportation (refoulement) of refugees and asylum seekers from Cambodia and Thailand.  

We demand that all governments in the Asia-Pacific region reaffirm the importance of the principle of non-refoulement of asylum seekers and refugees. 

We further call on these governments and all governments in the Asia-Pacific region to resolve to make 2010 a year in which the basic rights of refugees and asylum seekers are recognised, including the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.

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Liberal Democrats: Uyghurs must have fair trial – Watson

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Contact:   Euan Roddin – +32 475 59 13 74

Embargo:  Immediate, Thursday 7th January 2010 


Statement by Graham Watson MEP on the extradition of twenty Uyghurs from Cambodia to China and their need for a fair trial.

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Human Rights Watch / December 22, 2009

(New York) – The Chinese government should immediately allow access to the 20 Uighur asylum seekers who were forcibly deported to China on December 19, 2009, in what was a breach by the Cambodian government of its obligations under international law, Human Rights Watch said today. The group of Uighurs included 17 men, one woman, and two children.

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OHCHR / 22 December 2009

GENEVA (22 December 2009) – The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, expressed grave concern about the forcible return of 20 ethnic Uyghurs from Cambodia to China. The deportees were seeking asylum in Cambodia after having fled China during the past few months, following clashes between Uyghurs and Han, in the Xinjiang region in July 2009.

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OHCHR / 22 December 2009

GENEVA (22 December 2009 )– The UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, has called upon the Government of China to permit a comprehensive and independent assessment of the ethnic-tensions and grievances that erupted into violence in July 2009 in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, at the earliest opportunity.

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Presidency Statement on the forced return by Cambodia of asylum seekers

Published by The Presidency of European Union, 21 December 2009

The Presidency of European Union is deeply concerned about the decision by the Cambodian Government to forcibly return a group of ethnic Uighur asylum seekers to China on December 19, 2009, prior to an examination of their status under international refugee law. The Government’s action shows a worrying disregard for Cambodia’s obligations under international law, as well as for specific undertakings given to UNHCR in this case. The Presidency urges the Cambodian Government to review its procedures for dealing with applications for asylum, in order to ensure that the procedures comply with Cambodia’s obligations under international law.

 The Presidency urges China to ensure that the human rights of the returned persons are respected, and to guarantee transparency and due process.

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UNHCR deplores deportation of asylum-seekers before claims heard

 Geneva, Saturday 19 December 2009

The UN refugee agency expressed deep concern today about the involuntary return of asylum seekers before their claims have been heard. A disturbing pattern of such cases is increasingly evident around the world.

States are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which applies to both those recognized as refugees and those seeking asylum.

 The forced return of asylum-seekers without a full examination of their asylum claims is a serious breach of international refugee law.

 UNHCR is deeply distressed at today’s forced return of some 20 ethnic Uighurs from China who had filed asylum claims in Cambodia but whose cases had not yet been assessed.

On Friday, UNHCR communicated to the Royal Government of Cambodia its concern at reports of imminent deportation.

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US State Department: Cambodia’s Forcible Return of Uighurs to China

Gordon Duguid
Acting Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 19, 2009

On December 19, the Royal Government of Cambodia, at the request of China, forcibly removed a group of 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China in apparent violation of Cambodia’s international obligations. The United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of these individuals, who had sought protection under international law. We are also deeply disturbed that the Cambodian government decided to forcibly remove the group without the benefit of a credible process for determining refugee status and without appropriate participation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The United States strongly opposed Cambodia’s involuntary return of these asylum seekers before their claims have been heard. This incident will affect Cambodia’s relationship with the U.S. and its international standing.

Now that the group has been returned to China, we urge the government of China to uphold international norms and to ensure transparency, due process and proper treatment of persons in its territory. We continue to stress to all parties concerned the importance of respecting human rights and honoring their obligations under international law.

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