News / Asia

Rights Group: North Korean Refugees at Risk of Torture

VOA News
A human rights group is urging North Korea to "immediately reveal" the whereabouts of nine North Korean refugees who are believed to have been forced back to Pyongyang from Beijing.  

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, says the refugees, aged 15 to 23, are at "dire risk" because North Korea is known to torture those caught trying to escape and those sent back.

"They will probably be sent to forced labor camps where they will be deprived of food and medical services, abused by the guards and forced to work long hours in dangerous conditions," said Robertson.

On Thursday, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, expressed "extreme concern" for the nine refugees. He said he is worried about the penalties and treatment they could face if returned to North Korea.

Reports say the North Koreans were arrested in Laos this month and that authorities there turned them over to China.

The Wall Street Journal said this is "the first known case" of Laos cooperating with North Korea to send back defectors.  

Human Rights Watch said that under international law, people have the right not to be forcibly returned to a place where they face persecution. Robertson said the Lao and Chinese, however, did not respect that right.

"In this instance, it was clear that Laos and China collaborated with the North Korean government to abuse their rights. You know, what we saw was Laos and China again demonstrating their disregard for human rights by allowing the North Korean government to forcibly return these nine people. The Lao and the Chinese should have been fulfilling their obligations to allow refugee status determination for this group, not sending them back into harm's way," said Robertson.

Human Rights Watch says North Korean officials are believed to have accompanied the nine on their journey from Laos to China and from there to Pyongyang.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid