UNHCR deplores deportation of Laotian refugee from Thailand

Briefing Notes, 8 July 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 8 July 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is dismayed by the deportation by Thailand of a refugee recognized by UNHCR to the Lao People's Democratic Republic, where he could face harsh treatment amounting to persecution.

According to information confirmed this week by the Thai authorities, the deportation of this former Lao Hmong leader took place on 13 June.

UNHCR had urged the Royal Thai Government not to send him back since his detention in March 2013. Given his high profile, UNHCR has serious concerns over the risks to him now that he has been returned to Laos.

The deportation goes against the principle of no forced return, or non-refoulement, enshrined in international customary law. This principle is binding on all States and precludes them from sending a refugee to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened. Returning an individual to a country where he or she would face a risk of torture is also prohibited under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Thailand is party.

UNHCR appeals to the Thai authorities to uphold their responsibilities under international law and ensure full respect for the rights of people in need of international protection.

Thailand continues to generously host more than 128,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, the vast majority of them living in nine temporary shelters/camps along the border with Myanmar.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106
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