Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bangkok detains 7 North Koreans demanding refugee status

Thai police took seven North Korean defectors into custody for 30 days, denying their demands to be granted refugee status, informed sources said.

The North Koreans turned themselves in to Thai authorities early Monday to demand refugee status after arriving in the southeast Asian country, according to a Tokyo-based civic activist group working with the alleged defectors.

"A group of seven North Korean refugees, all women, arrived in the Nongkai Province of Thailand from Laos and presented themselves without delay to the authorities at 9:00 a.m. (local time) Monday," said a statement released by the Life Funds for North Korean Refugees.

North Korean defectors who appeal to authorities in Thailand usually end up being fined or detained on charges of illegal entry as Thailand is not affiliated with United Nation's Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. According to the humanitarian organization, the North Koreans were seeking asylum "in accordance with Article 31 of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which prohibits, among other things, imposing penalties on refugees on account of their illegal entry."

[Excerpt of an article by Byun Duk-kun, Yonhap News]

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