UNHCR chief calls on states to respect non-refoulement after North Koreans deported from Laos

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, expressed grave concern today over the safety and security of nine North Koreans who were reportedly deported from Laos to China.

According to information shared with UNHCR, the group of nine - including five children - were arrested in the Lao People's Democratic Republic on 10 May and deported to the People's Republic of China on 27 May. UNHCR is concerned that the deported individuals did not have a chance to have their asylum claims assessed.

"UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety and fundamental human rights of these individuals if they are returned to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," said High Commissioner Guterres.

Guterres strongly called on all states to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement as a core tenet of customary international law, and refrain from any future measure that could directly or indirectly lead to the return of a person to a country where his or her life or freedom would be threatened.

UNHCR is seeking information on the whereabouts of the nine North Koreans. It is also in contact with the authorities in Laos to establish the initial facts behind this incident and to prevent any future deportation of people of concern.

For further information please contact:

  • In Bangkok, Vivian Tan on mobile +66 81 827 0280
  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106