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Morocco: UN experts say extradition of Uyghur asylum seeker to China violates principle of non-refoulement

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GENEVA (16 December 2021) – UN human rights experts* today called on the Government of Morocco to halt a decision to extradite Mr. Yidiresi Aishan to China where he risks serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, or torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Mr. Aishan is a Chinese Muslim citizen belonging to the Uyghur minority, and a human rights defender. He is accused by the Chinese authorities of joining a terrorist group "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" (ETIM), and carrying out or actively participating in activities within terrorist organizations, under Article 120 of the Chinese Criminal Code. He was arrested in Casablanca based on a Red Notice issued by the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) on 13 March 2017, which was later suspended in August 2021.

“We are deeply concerned by today’s decision by the Moroccan Court of Cassation allowing the extradition of Mr. Aishan to China, despite the credible risk of grave violations of his human rights, both for his membership of an ethnic and religious minority and for his alleged affiliation with a terrorist organisation,” the experts said.

No State has the right to expel, return or otherwise remove any individual from its territory whenever there are “substantial grounds” for believing that the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture in the State of destination, including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

“This extradition process is happening without any form of individual examination and assessment of risks, which blatantly violates the absolute prohibition of refoulement under international human rights and refugee law,” the experts said. As an asylum seeker in Morocco, Mr. Aishan should be protected from any form of extradition or forced return to China, until his refugee status is decided, they said.

The experts further emphasised that the existence of a bilateral agreement on extradition, or diplomatic assurances, where provided, do not release States from their obligations under international human rights and refugee law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement.

The UN experts had previously expressed their concerns regarding this case to the Moroccan Government, in August 2021, and will continue the dialogue with the authorities to ensure full compliance with the absolute prohibition of refoulement under international human rights and refugee law. 

ENDS

*The experts: Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Mary Lawler, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Fernand de Varennes RP, Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Yasmine Ashraf (yasmine.ashraf@un.org/+41 22 917 2059)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact Renato Rosario De Souza (renato.rosariodesouza@un.org) or Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 79 444 7578 / jeremy.laurence@un.org)
Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts.

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