New Zealand courts have ruled the government can extradite a man suspected of murder to China – a historic decision which, if continued, will be the first time the country has sent a resident to stand trial in China.
Courts previously blocked the extradition of Kyung Yup Kim, a man accused of killing a young woman in Shanghai, citing the risk of torture and not receiving a fair trial.
Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision, the latest in 12 years of rulings and appeals, sets a precedent for New Zealand, which, like a number of Western countries, does not have an extradition treaty with China and suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in 2020.
Of particular significance is the court’s finding that the New Zealand government could trust China’s assurances that the extradited defendants would not face human rights abuses or torture.
“I am deeply troubled by this decision,” said Dr Anna High, co-director of the Center for Law and Society at the University of Otago.
“There are serious and well-documented problems with China’s criminal justice system – the idea that a diplomatic promise is a sufficient basis to hand someone over to that system seems, at best, incredibly naive.”
Last year saw ongoing debate on whether New Zealand’s trade dependence on China could hamper its ability to make diplomatic calls that anger Beijing – a tension that the New Zealand government says has absolutely no impact on its decisions on matters of principle or human rights.
Kyung Yup Kim is a permanent resident of Korean descent in New Zealand who arrived in the country in 1989. Chinese authorities suspect Kim of murdering a young woman, Peiyun Chen, during a visit to Shanghai in 2009 – an accusation he denies. Kim and his lawyers have repeatedly asserted that if he were to be extradited he would face torture and would not receive a fair trial. They argue that the assurances provided by China – including that Kim would be tried in Shanghai and that he could be visited by consular staff – are neither sufficient nor trustworthy.
Today’s decision overturns the court’s earlier ruling, with the majority finding that “further assurances [from China] provide a reasonable basis on which the Minister could be satisfied that there was no real risk that Mr. Kim would be tortured… [or] would face an unfair trial if surrendered to the PRC.”
“The assumption that diplomatic assurances from the PRC can provide a solid basis for extradition is deeply concerning,” High said. “This is the same PRC that assures the world that allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang are fabrications, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.”
“There is systemic torture in the Chinese justice system,” Kim’s lead lawyer, Dr Tony Ellis, told the Guardian, adding that the Chinese government’s torture assurances “weren’t worth the paper they put on the paper. they were written.” He said New Zealand could not rely on China’s assurances of a fair trial and referred to the trials of foreign citizens in China, where diplomats from detainees’ home countries were barred from courtrooms. .
Speaking after a 2021 court ruling, Geoff McLay, a University of Victoria law professor and former law commissioner, said “Kim is essentially just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of extraditions that China may request. “The dilemma is very difficult for the courts,” he said.
A 2016 Law Commission report recommended that extradition decisions be taken away from government ministers and dealt with through the courts, to ensure decisions do not appear to be affected by political pressure .
The original High Court ruling outlines the evidence Chinese authorities say they have against Kim – claims that Kim disputes. They list forensic evidence, including nine blood samples found at Kim’s residence that China says were identified as those of Ms. Chen; the testimony of an acquaintance of Kim who said he contacted her in a state of distress and that he “may have beaten a prostitute to death”; and that Chen’s body was found wrapped in materials identified by Kim’s girlfriend as being similar to those kept in her apartment.
New Zealand received China’s extradition request for intentional homicide in May 2011. In late 2015, then-Justice Minister Amy Adams ruled that Kim should be handed over to China after requesting diplomatic assurances about his treatment. But in June 2019, the appeals court overturned the minister’s decision, saying it needed to be reconsidered given the risk of torture and the fact that Kim did not receive a fair trial. The latest rulings are in response to the minister’s appeal against the ruling, as well as a cross-appeal from Kim’s legal team.
Ellis said a complaint would be filed with the UN human rights committee asking for interim measures so that Kim would not be extradited, and if necessary, he would file a new judicial review based on the issues of Kim’s health. Ellis said he had multiple health issues including depression, a small brain tumor, liver and kidney disease.
If these new measures fail, the decision to extradite Kim will rest with Justice Minister Kris Faafoi. A spokesman for the minister’s office said: “The minister is aware of today’s judgment and will pay particular attention to it. He will not comment further at this time.
New Zealand allows extradition of resident to China in landmark decision | New Zealand
Source link New Zealand allows extradition of resident to China in landmark decision | New Zealand