UN refugee agency deplores forced return of Uighur asylum-seekers from Cambodia

21 December 2009

The United Nations refugee agency has voiced deep distress at the forcible return of 20 ethnic Uighurs from China who had filed claims for asylum in Cambodia but whose cases had not yet been heard, saying it was part of a disturbing increase worldwide in such cases.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the forced return of the asylum-seekers on Saturday took place a day after the agency had communicated its concern to the Cambodian Government about the deportations.

“States are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which applies to both those recognized as refugees and those seeking asylum,” UNHCR said in a press release issued in Geneva.

“The forced return of asylum-seekers without a full examination of their asylum claims is a serious breach of international refugee law.”

UNHCR stressed that “a disturbing pattern of such cases is increasingly evident around the world.”


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