"China Must Protect Asylum Seekers":
Amnesty Int'l, Japan
Translated from Japanese Press Statement
Released February 4, 2003
The Chinese government must protect asylum seekers. The
Chinese security officers have detained several dozen
refugees in Yantai City, Shandong Province.
On January 18, 2003, Chinese security officers detained
several dozen North Korean refugees and asylum seekers in
Yantai City, Shandong Province, People's Republic of China.
These people had escaped from North Korea and were
attempting to leave China, seeking asylum either in South
Korea or Japan. According to reports from several
organizations, including the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), this incident involves 48
North Korean people, including a number of children.
asylum seekers have so far been given no access to a refugee
determination procedure. Reportedly, ten have already been
repatriated to North Korea.
Since 1999, North Koreans fleeing into China are being
detained in increasing numbers by the Chinese authorities
and forcibly sent back to North Korea. Most of those
detained during the crackdown in China have been denied
access to any refugee determination procedure.
Korean law, the act of leaving the country without
permission is a crime; punishment ranges from seven years of
imprisonment to death. It is feared, therefore, that if
these asylum seekers are repatriated, they will also face
the same sentences. Such treatment, a violation of their
human rights, includes arbitrary detention or imprisonment,
torture and ill-treatment. In some cases they may face
summary execution or death during detention from starvation
Amnesty International Japan is deeply concerned about the
continuing detention of the refugees from North Korea. If
they are forcibly repatriated, they will be subjected to
atrocious treatment that violates all international human
rights standards. This includes the principle of non
refoulement, Article 33 of the Convention Relating to the
Status of Refugees, to which China is signatory. On this
matter, Amnesty International Japan expresses grave concern
to the Chinese government.
Amnesty International Japan strongly calls upon the Chinese
government to grant the asylum seekers the legitimate rights
of access to fair and independent refugee determination
procedure under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees. This organization also urges the Chinese
government not to repatriate these people to North Korea
where they are likely to face violations of their human
Amnesty International Japan