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Cablegate: Opportunities to Assist Dprk Asylum Seekers In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Opportunities to Assist DPRK Asylum Seekers in
Vietnam: Slim and None

Reftel: State 172010

1. (SBU) Summary: The GVN considers DPRK asylum seekers to
be immigration law violators who must be dealt with in
accordance with the law; in most cases, they are sent back
to the country from which they crossed illegally into
Vietnam. As a matter of security, the GVN has asked foreign
and international missions to hand over any third-country
intruders. The GVN will not be held responsible for a
mission's security if that mission decides to shelter an
intruder. Furthermore, the sheltering country's relations
with Vietnam would suffer in such an event. The GVN would
not permit the USG or anyone else to process North Koreans
for resettlement from Vietnam. The GVN also would not allow
asylum seekers to receive assistance through the UN or
another party nor welcome USG support for providing
protection and assistance to North Koreans. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Pol/C raised reftel's questions with MFA Consular
Department Deputy Director Bui Tien Hue September 22. The
GVN considers those arriving in Vietnam without proper
documentation, such as passports and visas, as immigration
law violators, Hue said. Vietnam has a sovereign right to
control its borders and protect its territory. In the case
of someone who enters Vietnam illegally, the GVN has no
choice but to expel this person. In response to Pol/C's
question about exceptions for humanitarian or exceptional
cases, Hue said that "the law is clear."

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3. (SBU) Following recent cases involving North Korean
asylum seekers entering third-country embassies (France and
Sweden in December 2004 and Thailand in June), the GVN sent
around a circular to all diplomatic missions asking them to
hand over to the GVN authorities any foreign intruders, Hue
continued. This is for the safety of both the diplomatic
community and the Vietnamese people. In the current age of
international terrorism, Vietnam has a responsibility to
protect resident diplomatic missions and personnel. If any
embassy or organization shelters intruders, the GVN cannot
be held responsible for that organization's security.
Besides, offering such shelter is in violation of Article 31
of the Vienna Convention, Hue noted.

4. (SBU) In addition, providing shelter would only encourage
an increase in illegal migrants, creating further problems
for Vietnam's security, Hue stressed. It would also "badly
affect" Vietnam's relations with the sheltering country.
Furthermore, it would not be acceptable to use Vietnam's
territory to process applications for resettlement or as a
"temporary residence" prior to travel to a third country.
If Vietnam permitted this, it would greatly affect Vietnam's
security and order. "Aren't other countries the same?" Hue
asked. Pol/C responded that other nations, including
Cambodia, have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967
Protocol and thus have accepted certain responsibilities,
including providing temporary refugee to asylum seekers.

5. (SBU) Vietnam also would not allow assistance to be
routed through the UN or another organization to asylum
seekers, Hue continued. This is a "preventive principle"
designed to discourage others from entering Vietnam
illegally. Finally, Vietnam would not welcome USG support
for providing protection and assistance to asylum seekers.
"Asylum seekers must be dealt with as law breakers," Hue
asserted. In most cases, they would be sent back to the
country from which they entered Vietnam, he said. In
response, Pol/C noted that the United States considers the
issue of DPRK asylum seekers to be an important humanitarian
matter and that the USG is concerned about what would likely
happen to them should they be sent back to North Korea. Hue
replied that "there are many ways to provide assistance to
these individuals, and it does not have to be in Vietnam."


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