Cambodian refugees under UN protection arrested after deportation from Thailand
Following the arrest of a third Cambodian refugee deported from Thailand, the UN Refugee Agency says it is “dismayed” by Thai authorities’ move to force refugees back to the territory where they face prosecution.
Earlier this month, two Cambodian nationals, who were both registered refugees under UN protection, were expelled from Thailand. This past Saturday, a third refugee, who is a former commune chief, was deported by Thai authorities.
According to Reuters, the three refugees were arrested in their home country after being deported by Thai authorities. Police say the three refugees, who are members of the country’s disbanded opposition party, are in pre-trial detention on charges of conspiracy and incitement. Reuters reports that the arrests come amid a political crackdown that started in the campaigns ahead of the 2018 general election.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, says the refugee agency is urging the Thai government to refrain from deporting people who are recognised as refugees under UN protection.
“We are extremely alarmed by this trend of forcibly returning refugees to Cambodia, where they face a serious risk of persecution. Given recent developments, we are very concerned about the safety of UNHCR recognised Cambodian refugees in Thailand.”
In an interview with Reuters, Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson called it a “swap mart” arrangement.
“The ‘swap mart’ arrangement between Cambodian and Thai authoritarians is operating at full speed, running roughshod over refugee protections and rights.”
Reuters reached out to Thailand’s embassy in Phnom Penh, but officials declined to comment.
SOURCES: Reuters | UNHCR
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