GENEVA (27 October 2023) – Laotian authorities must not deport people, including human rights defenders, to countries where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would face an imminent risk of enforced disappearance, torture, summary execution and other grave human rights violations, a UN expert said today.

“I am appalled that, despite numerous calls made by the United Nations, Laotian authorities disregarded their duty of care to Mr. Lu Siwei and so blatantly ignored their obligations under international human rights law,” said Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

This warning followed reports that prominent Chinese human rights defender and lawyer, Lu Siwei, was deported in September 2023 from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the People’s Republic of China where he might be subjected to serious harm, including enforced disappearance. The UN human rights mechanisms, including Special Procedures, have consistently raised concerns on this matter with China over the years.

“It is prohibited to return people to a country where they would face a real risk of serious harm, persecution, torture, ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations upon return, as set out, among others, in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Lao PDR is a State-Party,” the expert said. “This principle of non-refoulement is an essential protection under international human rights law and customary law,” she said.

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