Friday, 23 August, 2019

New Zealand stops China extradition over torture fears

Justice Minister Andrew Little will now decide on the extradition case Justice Minister Andrew Little will now decide on the extradition case
Steven Clarke | 13 June, 2019, 15:41

A New Zealand court has ordered the government to reassess its decision to extradite a man to China in order to face murder charges, warning he could be subjected to human rights abuses if returned.

International rights groups and non-governmental organisations - including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - have previously alleged that Chinese authorities employ an "endemic" use of torture and ill-treatment to obtain forced confessions from prisoners.

"The new Minister of Justice, Hon Andrew Little, will have a hard if not impossible task on the third occasion that a Minister of Justice has to consider Mr Kim's surrender to answer the profound and important questions posed by the Court of Appeal".

New Zealand's previous justice minister twice approved the extradition after diplomatic assurances Kim would not be tortured or face the death penalty.

"In assessing the effectiveness of the assurances to address the risk of torture, the minister must address such evidence as there is that torture is already against the law (in China), yet persists and the evidence is that practice of torture in the PRC (People's Republic of China) is concealed", the 100-page judgment said.

Beijing defended its human rights record in the wake of the ruling.

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Little must also address whether the general human rights situation in China suggests human rights - as defined under worldwide obligations that New Zealand has committed to - are not valued or understood.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday that Beijing attaches "great importance to the protection and promotion of human rights".

New Zealand first agreed in 2015 to extradite Kim to Shanghai after the body of a 20-year-old woman, who had been strangled, was found in a Shanghai field in 2009.

New Zealand doesn't have a formal extradition agreement with China and the case is considered an important precedent.

In New Zealand's first extradition case involving the Asian giant, Justice Minister Andrew Little will have to reconsider the extradition of New Zealand resident Kyung Yup Kim, unless the government appeals to the country's highest court. He was kept in detention for five years before being allowed electronic bail in Auckland.

Kim has denied the murder accusation levelled against him, according to court documents. "Extradition processes exist to ensure that those who commit crimes can not escape consequences by fleeing the jurisdiction - that there should be no safe havens for those who commit serious crimes", the Court of Appeal wrote. "New Zealand has obligations under global law to refuse to return a person to a jurisdiction in which they will be substantial risk of torture, or they will not receive a fair trial".

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