UN experts say extradition of Uyghur asylum seeker to China violates principle of non-refoulement: Morocco


UN human rights experts* today called on the Government of Morocco to halt a decision to extradite Mr. Yidiresi Aishan to China where he risks serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, or torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Mr. Aishan is a Chinese Muslim citizen belonging to the Uyghur minority, and a human rights defender. He is accused by the Chinese authorities of joining a terrorist group “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM), and carrying out or actively participating in activities within terrorist organizations, under Article 120 of the Chinese Criminal Code. He was arrested in Casablanca based on a Red Notice issued by the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) on 13 March 2017, which was later suspended in August 2021.

“We are deeply concerned by today’s decision by the Moroccan Court of Cassation allowing the extradition of Mr. Aishan to China, despite the credible risk of grave violations of his human rights, both for his membership of an ethnic and religious minority and for his alleged affiliation with a terrorist organisation,” the experts said.

No State has the right to expel, return or otherwise remove any individual from its territory whenever there are “substantial grounds” for believing that the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture in the State of destination, including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

“This extradition process is happening without any form of individual examination and assessment of risks, which blatantly violates the absolute prohibition of refoulement under international human rights and refugee law,” the experts said. As an asylum seeker in Morocco, Mr. Aishan should be protected from any form of extradition or forced return to China, until his refugee status is decided, they said.

The experts further emphasised that the existence of a bilateral agreement on extradition, or diplomatic assurances, where provided, do not release States from their obligations under international human rights and refugee law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement.

The UN experts had previously expressed their concerns regarding this case to the Moroccan Government, in August 2021, and will continue the dialogue with the authorities to ensure full compliance with the absolute prohibition of refoulement under international human rights and refugee law. 

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