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UNHCR rebukes Thailand for deporting Cambodian refugees

23/11/2021 10:02 PM

By Linda Khoo Hui Li

BANGKOK, Nov 23 -- The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has condemned Thailand for deporting three Cambodian refugees in two weeks as the action contravened the principle of non-refoulement.

UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs said the UN refugee agency is extremely alarmed by this trend of forcibly returning refugees to Cambodia, where they face a serious risk of persecution.

“Given recent developments, we are very concerned about the safety of UNHCR recognised Cambodian refugees in Thailand.

“We urge the Royal Thai Government to refrain from deporting recognized refugees and to abide by its international obligations, particularly the principle of non-refoulement.

“UNHCR continues to offer its full support to the government in ensuring the protection of those in need in Thailand,” she said in a statement. 

Under international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.

Thavry Lanh, a former commune chief, who fled to Thailand more than four years ago was arrested on Friday by Thai immigration officers and held in a detention centre in Aranyaprathet overnight before being sent back to Cambodia the next day, according to Human Rights Watch.

She was deported despite the fact the refugee agency had immediately notified the authorities of her refugee status and the serious concerns for her safety if she returns.

The UN Refugee Agency deplores her deportation which occurred only ten days after the authorities deported two other Cambodian refugees.

The statement said UNHCR is seeking urgent clarification from the Thai authorities regarding the circumstances leading to this most recent deportation and the fate of those returned in Cambodia.

UNHCR exhorts Cambodian authorities to uphold international human rights standards and to allow human rights organisations access to the deportees.

Thailand and Cambodia reached an agreement to exchange ‘fugitives’ in 2018.





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