I would like to refer to your correspondence concerning recent events in Phnom Penh, seeking information and questioning conformity with international obligations, as the Kingdom of Cambodia is a Contracting State to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Regarding Mr. Li Guojun and Ms. Zhang Xinyi, Chinese nationals detained by Cambodian authorities on 2 August 2002, these individuals were issued protection letters from the UNHCR Liaison Office in Cambodia prior to their arrest. UNHCR has formally intervened with the Government of Cambodia, both through the UNHCR Regional Office in Bangkok, to the Cambodian Office of the Prime Minister, and through UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, to the Cambodian Permanent Mission. These interventions have noted the protection obligations of Cambodia, and sought assurance that these individuals would not be returned to a place where their lives or freedom would be at risk. To date, no response has been received from the authorities. UNHCR is aware of media reports that on 9 August 2002 these individuals have been forcibly returned to their country of origin.
UNHCR remains deeply concerned for the well being of these individuals, and continues to seek assurances from the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia that they, as well as other refugees and asylum seekers in the country are accorded and can meaningfully enjoy protection in conformity with the States international obligations.
Bureau for Asia and the Pacific