Nepal Has Obligation Not To Deport Tibetan Refugees, Says UN

An official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kathmandu said the UN agency and Nepalese government should facilitate the safe passage for Tibetan refugees to travel to India under the Gentlemen's Agreement established in early 1990s.

The established procedure under the "Gentlemen's Agreement" assumes cooperation among Nepalese police and government officials with the UNHCR in providing for the safe transit of Tibetan refugees through Nepal and onward to India.

In an interview with the Kathmandu Post, Stéphane Jaquemet, representative of UNHCR in Kathmandu said “Like any other country in the world, Nepal has an obligation not to return people seeking international protection. Although Nepal is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it is party to a number of human rights instruments and treaties which contain the obligation of non-return of people seeking international protection.”

He refuted an op-ed in the newspaper which stated that international practice says that migrants can be deported. “This is not correct for someone who seeks international protection. The latter cannot be deported,” he said.

Nepal returned three fleeing Tibetan refugees to Chinese border police in early June,

Nepal is home to about 20,000 exiled Tibetans who began arriving in large numbers in 1959 after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against the Chinese.

Approximately 2,500 Tibetan refugees escape into exile annually, travelling through Nepal en route to Dharamsala in northern India where their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile are based. However the number of the Tibetan refugees escaping from Nepal has decreased in the recent years following China’s growing influence in Nepal.

Some information for this report was provided by The Kathmandu Post and Tibetnet