U.S. Department of State
December 19, 2009
On December 19, the Royal Government of Cambodia, at the request of China, forcibly removed a group of 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China in apparent violation of Cambodia’s international obligations. The United States is deeply concerned about the welfare of these individuals, who had sought protection under international law. We are also deeply disturbed that the Cambodian government decided to forcibly remove the group without the benefit of a credible process for determining refugee status and without appropriate participation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The United States strongly opposed Cambodia’s involuntary return of these asylum seekers before their claims have been heard. This incident will affect Cambodia’s relationship with the U.S. and its international standing.
Now that the group has been returned to China, we urge the government of China to uphold international norms and to ensure transparency, due process and proper treatment of persons in its territory. We continue to stress to all parties concerned the importance of respecting human rights and honoring their obligations under international law.