The whereabouts of the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai who went missing in Thailand on 17 October is still unknown. Sweden gave this status to ScandAsia on 23 December 2015.
“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is aware of that a Swedish citizen in his fifties is said to be detained in Thailand or China. Our embassies in Bangkok and Beijing are investigating this in contact with local authorities. Our Embassy in Bangkok has raised this matter with Thai high-level representatives. The matter has also been raised (by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs) with the Thai Embassy in Stockholm. Swedish law enforcement agencies are engaged in the matter,” replied Gabriel Wernstedt from the Swedish ministry.
An unidentified individual led the Swede away from his apartment in Pattaya in southeast Thailand.
Amnesty International earlier reported that the Thai government on 14-15 November forcibly returned two Chinese activists to China who had been recognized as refugees by the UNHCR. A third individual, a Swedish national who went missing in Thailand on 17 October might also have been removed to China, according to media reports and activists. Amnesty condemned the Thai authorities’ shameful decision to forcibly return refugees to China in contravention of its international obligations.
Amnesty International called for that China and Thailand’s collaboration in targeting freedom of expression and ignoring refugee rights must end.
“Thai authorities are callously disregarding their international obligations under human rights law and international refugee protection, by lending support to the Chinese authorities’ crackdown on peaceful critics at home and abroad,” the organisation stated.
Coinciding with the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur Amnesty International urged governments attending to call on Thai and Chinese authorities to stop denying the freedom of expression and refugee rights, and ensure no state violates its human rights obligations in order to accommodate requests from the Chinese government.
The two Chinese activists, who were recognized as refugees by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), were returned to China on the weekend of 14/15 November, and “are now at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as unfair trials in China.”
“Both Thailand and China must further answer open questions about the whereabouts and legal status of Gui Minhai, a Swedish national of Chinese origin who runs publishing companies in Hong Kong that specialize in books on Chinese political and social issues, who went missing in Thailand on 17 October.”
Amnesty encouraged Thai authorities to investigate the whereabouts of Gui Minhai; “If he is in Thai detention, they must immediately disclose his whereabouts and why he has been detained“.
It also demanded that che Chinese authorities must disclose the whereabouts and legal status of the two Chinese activistsand, the case be, Gui Minhai; refrain from prosecuting them solely for their peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and allow them free passage out of China should they so wish.
“The Chinese authorities should release them immediately and unconditionally unless they are formally charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence.“
Although Thailand is not part of the UN Refugee Convention, it is bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the transfer of people to any country or jurisdiction where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations or abuses. This principle is enshrined in numerous international instruments, and has achieved the status of customary international law, binding on all states regardless of whether they have ratified the relevant treaties, stated Amnesty.
The forcible return of people to a country where there is a real risk that they could face torture and other ill-treatment also violates the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Thailand is a state party.