UN Experts Urge Laos to Halt Deportation, Release Chinese Lawyer

Lawyer Lu Siwei

UNHCR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UN experts, today called on Lao People’s Democratic Republic to end the arbitrary detention of lawyer and human rights defender Lu Siwei and permit him to continue his journey to reunite with his family.

“The surveillance, persecution and detention of Mr. Lu Siwei must end immediately,” the experts said.

Lu Siwei is a well-known Chinese human rights defender and lawyer. On 28 July 2023, he was arrested in Lao by police, while preparing to board a train for Thailand. He had recently fled China and intended to fly from Thailand to the United States of America to reunite with his family.

To date, Lu Siwei remains in an unknown place of detention, without access to his lawyers, his family or any other person of his choice.

“We fear Mr. Lu Siwei is at risk of imminent deportation to China, where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of being subjected to irreparable harm upon return, on account of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. He is also at risk of other serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention or enforced disappearance,” the UN experts said.

Under international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, enforced disappearance and other irreparable harm.

“Should the deportation take place, it would contradict the core principle of non-refoulment as enshrined, among others, in Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), to which the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is party,” the experts said.

“It is outrageous that human rights defenders working peacefully to promote, defend or protect the rights of others, are being persecuted even while fleeing,” the experts said.

“Based on humanitarian grounds and in line with Lao’s international human rights obligations, we call on authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent any irreparable harm to the life and personal integrity of Mr. Lu Siwei,” the experts said.

They urged the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic to refrain from returning him to the People’s Republic of China, ensure his release and allow him to reunite with his family in the United States of America.

The experts are in contact with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic authorities on the issue.