China must stop returning people to North Korea
Forced returns: an all too common practice
Refuge is a human right
North Koreans are not allowed to travel abroad without state permission – an act viewed as treason and punishable by death.
'We are determined to take substantial measures to physically remove despicable human scum who are committing treason.'
North Korea's Ministry of People's Security, 19 June 2014
Despite the risks if they are caught, many people do cross its borders every year in the hope of escaping the oppressive regime.
It is against international law to return someone to a country where they are at risk of persecution, torture or death.
However, China considers all undocumented North Koreans to be economic migrants, rather than asylum-seekers, and returns them to North Korea if found.
Demanding their freedom
We have been clear on this from the outset – asylum-seekers must not be forcibly returned to North Korea, where they could face enforced disappearance, execution, torture or other ill-treatment.
All North Koreans in China, Laos or anywhere else, are entitled to refugee status because of the threat of grave human rights violations if they were to be returned – and all countries must adhere to this.
We also want China to give the North Koreans access to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.