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Nine teenagers forcibly returned to North Korea
North Korea, action created 6.6.2013, petition is active
Nine North Korean teenagers have been forcibly returned to North Korea where they are at serious risk of arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, forced labour and possible death.
Nine North Koreans, aged between 14 and 19, were arrested in Laos on 10 May, detained for illegally crossing the border from China and forcibly returned to North Korea. They were reportedly taken from Laos’ capital Vientiane to Kunming in China on 27 May and flown on the same day to Beijing. Reports suggest that the nine were then taken to Pyongyang in North Korea on 28 May. North Korean officials allegedly accompanied the nine from Vientiane to Pyongyang. The South Korean government appealed to Chinese and Laos authorities to send the nine teenagers to South Korea.
North Koreans are prohibited from travelling abroad without state permission and recent crackdowns have made it increasingly difficult to cross the border into China and escape via a third country such as Laos or Thailand. China considers all undocumented North Koreans to be economic migrants and returns them if caught. Laos typically detains undocumented North Koreans found in Laos, but has previously allowed them to travel on to South Korea.