The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) today asked the Thai authorities not to extradite a group of asylum seekers from the Christian and Ahmadi minorities in Pakistan, fearing they could be tortured.
In a statement, HRW said dozens of Pakistanis have been detained by Thai authorities in police raids against more than a thousand immigrants, mostly from South Asia, for not having valid visas.
The NGO sent a letter to the prime minister, Prayut Chan-ocha, warning him that Pakistani Christians and the Ahmadi Muslim minority are threatened by discriminatory laws and attacks by religious extremists in their country.
"It is very important that the Thai authorities release the Pakistanis recognized as refugees and not return any (to their country) in violation of international law," said Brad Adams, director of HRW for Asia.
HRW affirmed that Thailand must respect the UN Convention against torture, of which it is a signatory, and allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to detainees.
Thailand treats asylum seekers and refugees as immigrants, having failed to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
About three million Pakistani Ahmadis, a Muslim sect founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in India in the 19th century, suffer discrimination in Pakistan, where they are not allowed to identify as Muslims.
Christians, who represent less than 4 million, are also victims of discrimination and violent attacks.
Last week, a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was acquitted of the crime of blasphemy by the Pakistani Supreme Court, which annulled the death sentence she was sentenced in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
The decision sparked mass protests by thousands of radical Islamists from the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party, which wants the Supreme Court to review the ruling.