The United Nations human rights office today expressed grave concern over Thailand's deportation to China of more than 100 people understood to be ethnic Uighurs – including some 20 women – and strongly urged Thai authorities to ensure the protection of 60 others who remain in detention.
“The 109 individuals, who were part of a larger group of more than 350, had been detained in very poor conditions at various immigration detention facilities across Thailand since March 2014, when they were apprehended after leaving China on their way to Turkey,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Despite Turkey's reported willingness to admit them to its territory, only 172 of the 350 were eventually allowed to go to Turkey in late June,” he said, adding that some 60 others remain in detention in Thailand.
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has repeatedly expressed concern to the Thai authorities that the deportation of this group to China would amount to “refoulement” and put them at risk of being tortured or subjected to other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The principle of non-refoulement is contained the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which Thailand is a party.
“We strongly urge the Thai authorities to ensure the protection of the 60 individuals who remain in detention and ensure that no further deportation of individuals, including potential refugees and asylum seekers, are made to countries where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture,” Mr. Colville said.
The UN human rights office called on the Chinese authorities to ensure that those extradited are treated in full conformity with the country's human rights.
“We understand the Thai authorities have received diplomatic assurances from China that the people will be protected from harm, and urge both countries to ensure that this pledge is scrupulously observed,” Mr. Colville said.