The Thai authorities must not return 50 ethnic Uighurs to China, where they are at risk of being tortured, forcibly disappeared and executed, and China must reveal the whereabouts of more than 100 already deported.
This morning, the Thai authorities confirmed that they have deported to China some 109 Uighurs – the Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. They were part of a group detained for irregular entry into Thailand in March 2014.
Since the 1980s, the Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations by the Chinese authorities.
“Thailand has violated international law by forcibly returning some 109 Uighurs to China. This is akin to sentencing them to the worst punishment imaginable. Time and time again we have seen Uighurs returned to China disappearing into a black hole, with some detained, tortured and in some cases, sentenced to death and executed,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director for East Asia at Amnesty International.
“Deporting these people is a despicable act, and illegal under international law. If the Thai authorities go ahead with any further deportations, they will be putting the lives of many at risk.”
Thailand is bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the transfer of people to any country or jurisdiction where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations or abuses. This principle is enshrined in numerous international instruments, and has achieved the status of customary international law, binding on all states, regardless of whether they have ratified the relevant treaties.
The forcible return of people to a country where they could face torture and other ill-treatment would also violate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Thailand is a state party.