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Protection of Asylum-Seekers at Sea

Executive Committee Meetings

Protection of Asylum-Seekers at Sea
No. 20 (XXXI) - 1980

16 October 1980
Executive Committee 31st session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly Document No. 12A (A/35/12/Add.1). Conclusion endorsed by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme upon the recommendation of the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection of Refugees.

The Executive Committee,

(a) Noted with grave concern the continuing incidence of criminal attacks on refugees and asylum-seekers in different areas of the world, including military attacks on refugee camps and on asylum-seekers at sea;

(b) Expressed particular concern regarding criminal attacks on asylum-seekers at sea in the South China Sea involving extreme violence and indescribable acts of physical and moral degradation, including rape, abduction and murder;

(c) Addressed an urgent call to all interested Governments to take appropriate action to prevent such criminal attacks whether occurring on the high seas or in their territorial waters;

(d) Stressed the desirability for the following measures to be taken by Governments with a view to preventing the recurrence of such criminal attacks:

(i) increased governmental action in the region to prevent attacks on boats carrying asylum-seekers, including increased sea and air patrols over areas where such attacks occur;

(ii) adoption of all necessary measures to ensure that those responsible for such criminal attacks are severely punished;

(iii) increased efforts to detect land bases from which such attacks on asylum-seekers originate and to identify persons known to have taken part in such attacks and to ensure that they are prosecuted;

(iv) establishment of procedures for the routine exchange of information concerning attacks on asylum-seekers at sea and for the apprehension of those responsible, and cooperation between Governments for the regular exchange of general information on the matter;

(e) Called upon Governments to give full effect to the rules of general international law - as expressed in the Geneva Convention on the High Seas of 1958 - relating to the suppression of piracy;

(f) Urged Governments to co-operate with each other and with UNHCR to ensure that all necessary assistance is provided to the victims of such criminal attacks;

(g) Called upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross and other interested organizations actively to seek the co-operation of the international community to intensify efforts aimed at protecting refugees who are victims of acts of violence, particularly those at sea.