UA 247/94 - Japan: health concern / degrading treatment / fear of refoulement: 61 Chinese nationals, including possible asylum-seekers
Sixty-one nationals of the People's Republic of China are being held in Japan in conditions which may constitute ill-treatment. On 22 May 1994 Japan's Maritime Safety Agency intercepted a small tanker carrying the Chinese to Japan. Since then, they have been restricted to the ship, anchored off Tanegashima, and denied any access to lawyers or to representatives of the UNHCR. Officials at a press conference on 23 June said that 39 of the Chinese and 6 of the 17 Indonesian crew are suffering from diseases including serious skin diseases and stomach ailments. The number of sick people appears to be rising rapidly due to the bad conditions on board the ship. In addition there is concern that the authorities may be considering forcibly returning them to China.