New Delhi: India cannot carry out collective expulsions or return people to a place where they risk torture, the UN said today in a sharp statement amid reports that the government plans to deport thousands of Rohingyas who have fled violence in Myanmar.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, has said in a statement that he "deplored current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country".
Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation, he said.
"The Minister of State for Home Affairs has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion," Mr Hussein said.
Noting India's obligations under international law, he said: "India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations."
The minority Rohingya Muslim community has long been subjected to discrimination in mostly Buddhist Myanmar, which denies them citizenship.
Attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine on August 25 sparked harsh military reprisals and an exodus.
Many have walked for days and the UN says many are sick, exhausted and in desperate need of shelter, food and water.