GENEVA (31 December 2009) – Two independent experts of the UN Human Rights Council -the Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge A. Bustamante- expressed their grave concern at reports that the forcible return of large numbers of Hmong from Thailand to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is on-going despite numerous international protests.
“We urge the Government of Thailand to stop immediately all expulsions, to grant access to relevant international organizations, notably UNHCR, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that the human rights of the Hmong are scrupulously respected,” said the experts in a joint statement.
The Special Rapporteur on torture stressed that “the fact that no independent and reliable pre-screening mechanism is in place to assess whether these individuals would be at risk of torture violates international human rights norms.”
According to the non-refoulement principle, said Nowak, “no State should expel, return, nor extradite a person to another State where he or she would be in danger of being tortured.”
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants expressed his concern that “among those expelled to Laos, were persons in need of international protection, such as recognized refugees and asylum seekers whose applications had not yet been assessed.”
“There is an urgent need to adopt a holistic approach to the management of migration,” said Bustamante, “that takes into account the causes and consequences of the migration flows implicating the Hmong and the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all those involved.”
OHCHR Country Page – Thailand: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/THIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country Page – People’s Democratic Republic of Lao: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/LAIndex.aspx