There are credible reports that over 500 North Korean refugees have been forcibly repatriated from China.
Radio Free Asia reports that most of those who were repatriated were civilians and religious figures who were arrested while attempting to travel to South Korea from China.
China’s policy of forcibly repatriating refugees contravenes the country’s obligations under international law, which mandates that the government must grant refugee status to all North Korean refugees in accordance with the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Those returned to North Korea will likely face torture, imprisonment, and in some cases even public execution. Those found to have had contact with Christians are known to face particularly harsh punishment.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW condemns the forcible repatriation of over 500 North Korean refugees this week. The horrific treatment they will now face in North Korea is no secret, and it is unacceptable that China persists with this policy which is in contravention of international law. We call on North Korean regime to uphold and respect human rights, to release all those currently detained in prison camps immediately and unconditionally, and to ensure that those who have been forcibly returned to the country do not face punishment. Furthermore, we urge States to strengthen measures to hold the North Korean regime to account, so that these calls become a reality.’