Last Updated: Monday, 30 November 2015, 05:46 GMT

UN asks Thailand for clarification on situation of Hmong BBC guide

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 3 April 2009
Cite as UN News Service, UN asks Thailand for clarification on situation of Hmong BBC guide, 3 April 2009, available at: [accessed 30 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The United Nations refugee agency is asking the Thai Government for clarification regarding allegations that a Lao Hmong man, who served as a guide for BBC journalists in Laos' jungles, was mistreated in a camp in northern Thailand.

Joua Va Yang, who led a team of BBC journalists in Laos to document the plight of the Hmong in 2004, is reportedly in danger of being deported to his home country, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

There have been allegations that he was mistreated at Petchabun province's Huay Nam Khao camp, home to over 5,000 Hmong to whom UNHCR has never had access.

Mr. Joua Va is believed to now be in Khao Kho prison, in the same province, with his wife and four children.

UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond said that the agency has asked the Thai Government to respect the customary principle of non-refoulement, by which no refugee or asylum-seeker should be forced to return to a country where he or she could face persecution.

He said the agency urges the Thai Government to review the status of Lao Hmong in the country in a "fair and transparent manner."

Further, UNHCR "is concerned that the continued lack of transparency in the treatment of the Lao Hmong in Petchabun undermines confidence in the commitment of Thailand to ensuring that international principles are respected," the spokesperson noted.

The group began gathering in Huay Nam Khao camp in large numbers in 2005, with 2,000 of them having been sent back to Laos since Thailand began repatriating them in 2007.

UNHCR again offered its assistance to the Thai Government in helping find solutions for Lao Hmong, including through the traditional role the agency plays in voluntary returns.

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