U.S. Very Concerned by China's Return of North Korean Refugee

Washington - The United States is gravely concerned by China’s deportation of a North Korean asylum seeker to North Korea, the White House said March 30.

China deported Kim Chun-hee to North Korea despite U.S., South Korean, and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) attempts to raise the case with Chinese authorities, according to the White House.  Kim was arrested in December 2005 after attempting to gain refuge at two Korean schools in China.

"The United States notes China's obligations as a party to the U.N. Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, and believes that China must take those obligations seriously.  We also call upon the Government of China not to return North Korean asylum seekers without allowing UNHCR access to these vulnerable individuals," the White House said.

The State Department's 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights cites North Korea as one of "the world’s most systematic human rights violators" and notes severe punishment of some repatriated refugees.

For more information on U.S. policies, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.

The text of the statement is available on the White House Web site. The North Korea section of the 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights is available on the State Department Web site.