Joint Appeal Sent to UNHCR on 7 in Thailand

7 NK Refugees in Thailand Awaiting UNHCR Action

The following appeal was sent to the High Commissioner today jointly by our group (LFNKR) and Tim Peters’ Helping Hands Korea NGO.


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Geneva, Switzerland

20 September, 2006

As you probably have been informed, seven North Korean refugees, all women, have presented themselves to the police authorities in Nong Khai, a border town in Northern Thailand, at 09:00 hrs. Monday, 18 September in accordance with Article 31 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which prohibits, among other things, the imposition of penalties on refugees based on their illegal entry to a third country.

On arrival at the Nong Khai City police station, the seven refugees were detained, questioned without the full benefit of a trained Korean translator and then taken to a Thai district court. At the district court a Baht 2,000 (USD $56) fine was levied on each refugee specifically for illegal entry by Thai authorities, who took little note of the abovementioned Convention.

After payment of the fines by activists, the seven refugees were transferred to the immigration authorities in Nong Khai on the same day. The seven were moved once again the following morning to the immigration authorities in Bangkok.

We believe that the detention and the levy of fines on seven refugees by Thai local authorities is a clear and most unfortunate violation of the abovementioned Convention by the Government of Kingdom of Thailand, a member of Executive Committee of your office.

With this letter we request your urgent intervention for the release and safe passage of the seven to appropriate foreign authorities in Thailand as well as swift travel to the country that agrees to accept them. Their individual profiles, a letter of appeal signed by the refugees and the press release we prepared on their behalf are herewith attached for your information.

Your attention and action on behalf of the refugees will be most appreciated.

Yours Sincerely,

Kato Hiroshi,
Secretary General,
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101, Nishikata HITEL, Bunkyo-ku,
Tokyo 113-0222 Japan
TEL/FAX: +81-3-3815-8127


Tim Peters
Helping Hands Korea
Tel: 82-11-9652-6731