The United Nations is calling on world governments to refrain from repatriating North Korean refugees.
U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif said Monday that member countries must not send North Korean escapees back to the hermitic nation.
She made the comment in a meeting with South Korean Unification Ministry official Kang Jong-suk, according to Yonhap News Agency.
China has been accused of sending back hundreds of escaped North Koreans over the last few months.
Elizabeth Salmón, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has warned that those who are returned to North Korea after escape “would be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment and other serious human rights violations(…) and even execution,” according to NK News.
Some refugees forcibly repatriated to the regime state have lived in the country for decades.
Ambassador Julie Turner, who was sworn in as U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues this month, first addressed the issue Friday.
“I am gravely concerned by recent and credible reports that the PRC repatriated large numbers of North Koreans, including as recently as last week,” she said during an event at George Washington University’s Institute for Korean Studies.
South Korean authorities reported earlier this month that a small, wooden boat of North Korean escapees was rescued near the country’s sea border.
The four refugees – reportedly a man and three women – claimed to be from the same family.
South Korea reports providing sanctuary for approximately 30,000 North Korean citizens who fled their oppressive conditions under supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s regime.