UNHCR deplores the death of an asylum seeker in Pontianak, Indonesia

Briefing Notes, 2 March 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 2 March 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is deeply saddened by the reported death of an Afghan asylum seeker following a failed escape attempt from a detention facility in Indonesia.

According to initial reports, six Afghan asylum seekers attempted an escape from the immigration detention centre in Pontianak (Kalimantan) on 26 February. The Indonesian authorities apprehended all six either during or immediately after the escape.

UNHCR is seriously troubled by the unclear turn of events that followed. Our staff visited the local hospital on Tuesday, 28 February and were informed that the 28 year old Afghan asylum seeker was declared dead on arrival that morning after his body was brought to the hospital by unknown individuals. However, the cause of death has not been established yet and police says they will conduct an autopsy.

Another three asylum seekers have been hospitalized on 28 February and today, two of them with serious injuries. One of them is 17 years old . The remaining two are still in detention centre.

We have deployed additional staff from Jakarta this morning (2 March 2012) to Pontianak to meet the authorities at the detention centre and to meet with the five Afghans to ensure their wellbeing.

We call on the Indonesian authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation that will shed light on this incident. We are also seeking more information from our Immigration counterparts on this incident. UNHCR is encouraged by the decision of the Indonesian Immigration Headquarters to dispatch its team to Pontianak to investigate the incident.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

In Canberra (Regional): Ben Farrell on mobile +61 407 971 686

In Jakarta: Mitra Salima Suryono on mobile +62 81 192 01 658

In Geneva: Andrej Mahecic on mobile: +41 79 200 76 17

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