GENEVA, Switzerland, The United Nations Committee Against Torture has called for an immediate end to the forced repatriation of North Korean defectors in China.
The U.N. body and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees are urging for the free and safe passage of North Korean refugees, Voice of America reported Tuesday.
The Committee Against Torture said on Nov. 17-18 that members reviewed China’s fifth country report, submitted to fulfill a requirement as a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
The U.N. body said it is most concerned China is classifying North Korean defectors as illegal economic migrants, because this then justifies repatriation to North Korea where persecution, torture, as well as long detentions await returnees.
“Defectors face torture, arbitrary detention, rape, forced labor,” said George Tugushi, the Committee’s vice chairman, adding North Korean women who are impregnated by Chinese men are forced to undergo abortions upon repatriation.
The committee said more than 100 cases of systemic torture and ill treatment have been filed with the U.N., and added the repatriation of North Korean victims of human trafficking must end without delay.
In a separate statement, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees called for access to North Korean defectors in China, so as to determine their status as refugees.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry previously has said China has forcibly returned tens of thousands of North Korean nationals who were most likely subjected to punishment upon their return.
In November, 10 North Korean defectors were taken into Chinese custody after being sent back from Vietnam, where it is likely they were seeking asylum at a South Korean embassy.
China has not responded to past queries regarding its decision to repatriate defectors.
Although Beijing and Pyongyang cooperate on defector repatriation, relations have not improved since the abrupt cancellation of North Korea’s all-female Moranbong Band’s weeklong “friendship” tour.
Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday the move to cancel the tour was a regrettable decision, and that Kim Jong Un is the “international odd man out,” according to North Koreans residing outside the country.