Skip to main content
Menu Menu Close
Asia and the Pacific
Western Asia

China - October 2023

Forced mass repatriation of North Korean escapees

On 9 October, rights groups estimate Chinese authorities forcibly repatriated more than 500 North Koreans, most of whom were women. Experts, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, have expressed concern that those forcibly returned may be subjected to torture, forced labour, inhumane treatment, and possibly execution and enforced disappearance. UN authorities underscored the importance of applying the non-refoulement principle universally, irrespective of migratory status, highlighting its critical role in international law, including the Convention against Torture and the 1951 Refugee Convention, of which China is a party. The Chinese government, which often categorizes defectors as "economic migrants," has denied allegations of repatriation, maintaining that it adheres to international law in handling illegal entrants. Human Rights Watch previously confirmed that on 29 August 2023, 80 North Koreans were forcibly repatriated, along with 40 others on 18 September, and nearly 50 North Koreans in July 2021 - having increased since Pyongyang began loosening its COVID-19 border restrictions in recent months.

Sources: OHCHR, Human Rights Watch, BBC News, South China Morning Post

Primary categories and factors
Rights 0 Rights  (0)
Rule of Law -1 Rule of Law  (-1)
Personal Integrity and Security
Secondary categories and factors
Rights 0 Rights
Political Equality
Social Group Equality

See all event reports for this country