GENEVA October 2, 2018 – A UN human rights expert has expressed alarm at the Indian Government’s plan to deport seven Rohingya men to Myanmar, saying their forcible return could constitute refoulement which violates international law.
The men from Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine state face deportation on 3 October. They have been held at the Silchar central prison in Cachar district in the State of Assam since 2012 on charges of irregular entry.
“Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume. “The Indian Government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection.
“I am also appalled over the length of their detention,” the expert added. “Prolonged detention of this kind is prohibited. It could be considered arbitrary, and could even fall under the category of inhuman and degrading treatment.”
She said it was unacceptable that the men have not received adequate legal counsel.
The Indian Government has an obligation to refer Rohingyas under their custody to the UN refugee agency so their protection needs can be assessed and proper information provided to them about their rights, the expert added.
The planned deportations follows a previous Order by the Government of India on 8 August 2017 to return Rohingyas. The Supreme Court of India is still considering a petition challenging the 2017 Order on the grounds it was unconstitutional.
The UN expert expressed concern that close to 200 Rohingya persons were known to be detained in India on charges of irregular entry. “We urge the Government of India to abide by the international norm of non-refoulement and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees including Rohingyas,” she said.
Ms E. Tendayi Achiume (Zambia) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in September 2017. Ms. Achiume is currently a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, and a research associate of the African Center for Migration and Society (ACMS), at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.