SEOUL, July 15 (UPI) -- The U.N. has requested Beijing for an explanation of its decision to repatriate 29 North Korean defectors last August, and of their current status in North Korea.
The query comes after China submitted a period report to the U.N. on June 29, to fulfill a requirement as a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry is particularly concerned about the status of human-trafficking victims and illegal immigrants in China, and the persecution or torture, as well as the long detentions that await returnees in North Korea, South Korean outlet No Cut News reported.
North Korean women also are vulnerable to forced abortions and sexual assault after repatriation, according to the U.N.
In a follow-up to China's report, the U.N. said it had received information a 1-year-old child was one of the 29 North Koreans repatriated in August 2014.
The U.N. asked Beijing to confirm this notice and where possible provide any information on the status of the returnees in North Korea.
Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea in Washington told Radio Free Asia the defectors should be classified as political refugees, considering the possibility of torture that await returnees forcibly sent back to North Korea.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry was established in 2013 to investigate human rights violations in North Korea. The COI previously has said China has forcibly returned tens of thousands of North Korean nationals who were most likely subjected to punishment upon their return.