Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Acting Spokesman, Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
December 24, 2009


The United States is deeply concerned about reports of the imminent and involuntary deportation by Thai authorities of 4,200 ethnic Lao Hmong to Laos from Huay Nam Khao Camp in Petchabun province, Thailand. We note that the Royal Thai Government had determined that many of the Hmong at Huay Nam Khao are in need of protection. The United States is also concerned about the situation of the 158 ethnic Hmong in a Thai immigration detention facility in Nong Khai province, Thailand, all of whom have been determined by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees to be refugees in need of protection.

Forced returns of persons entitled to protection is inconsistent with international practice and Thailand’s long history of protection of refugees. Such returns would violate the international principle of non-refoulement and imperil the well-being of many individuals.

During the past two years, the United States has expressed concerns about the forced repatriation of Lao Hmong repeatedly to Thai leaders, as recently as during a visit by Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration to Thailand this week. The United States and others have been working actively with the Governments of Thailand and Laos to find a mutually acceptable resolution in line with international principles. We are confident such solutions are achievable, but they require that the Royal Thai Government refrain from involuntary return of those who merit protection.

We again urge the Royal Thai Government to uphold the international principle of non-refoulement and refrain from forcibly returning Lao Hmong who merit protection.



PRN: 2009/1314