The United Nations refugee agency on Friday expressed concern for the safety and security of the seven Rohingya men India handed over to Myanmar on Thursday, Reuters reported. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the men were denied access to legal advice and a chance to get their asylum claims assessed.
On Thursday, India had claimed that the Rohingya men had expressed their willingness to be repatriated. Myanmar identified them as its citizens and issued them certificates to facilitate their travel to their hometowns in Rakhine state, India said.
The men were in Silchar central prison in Assam since 2012 for illegally crossing the border in violation of the Foreigners Act. In 2016, they requested that the embassy of Myanmar issue them documents to facilitate their return, the Centre said.
“UNHCR continues to seek clarification from the [Indian] authorities on the circumstances under which these individuals were returned to Myanmar,” spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said, according to Reuters.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday refused to interfere in the Centre’s decision to deport them. “They were found to be illegal immigrants and their country of origin, Myanmar, has recognised them as Myanmar citizens,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
Earlier this week, a United Nations human rights expert expressed alarm at the government’s decision to send back the seven men. Tendayi Achiume, the UN special rapporteur on racism, said their forcible return could constitute violation of international law.
In August 2017, India announced that it was planning to deport all 40,000 Rohingya refugees in the country. The Supreme Court is still hearing a petition against that order. The court has said no Rohingya refugee should be deported until it decides on the matter.