UNHCR deplores deportation of asylum-seekers before claims heard

Press Releases, 19 December 2009

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.