The Supreme Court emphasized Beijing’s assurances that a man accused of killing a Chinese woman in 2009 would not be tortured and would have a fair trial.
Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a murder suspect can be extradited to China, but only if the government has sufficient assurance from Beijing that he will not be subjected to torture and a fair trial. .
The decision, in favor of three judges and two against, came after 15 months of deliberation. This overturned a Court of Appeals ruling that the defendant, Kyung Yup Kim, a legal resident of New Zealand who is in his mid-40s, cannot be safely extradited because of his human rights record to China.
Mr Kim is accused of killing 20-year-old Peiyun Chen, a Chinese woman, while on vacation in Shanghai in 2009. Chinese officials said Mr Kim left for South Korea, where he was born, before he could be questioned.
This was the first time China had asked New Zealand to extradite a citizen or resident. Like most Western countries, New Zealand does not have an extradition treaty with China. Mr Kim has been fighting an extradition request for the past 10 years. He spent five years in prison before being released on bail in Auckland.
New Zealand’s previous, centre-south government, which was in power from 2008 to 2017, ordered Mr Kim’s extradition twice. Both times, the courts ordered the Justice Minister to reconsider the matter.
Mr Kim and his lawyer, Tony Ellis, have argued that given China’s record on human rights, “no reasonable minister” can make a case for his extradition. In a statement following the verdict on Friday, Mr Ellis condemned the verdict and reiterated his belief that his client cannot be safely extradited.
“Under the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Republic of China is a rogue state,” Mr Ellis said. “It engages in the endemic use of torture, does not guarantee a fair trial and, more broadly, rejects the basic premise that it must respect international human rights law. The Government of Zeeland has repeatedly accused China of its international obligations. , especially with respect to human rights, has called for breaking.
Charged foreigners in China have only had a few hours of in-camera hearings, and some have reported being tortured during interrogation. Yang Hengjun, a Chinese-born Australian citizen charged with espionage, said he was tortured over a period of months, while Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who also faced espionage chargesHe has been in jail since 2018 and is facing trial. No decision has been announced yet.
Concern over China’s rights record has played a part in extradition issues elsewhere in the region. In 2017, Australia withdrew from a proposed extradition treaty with China over warnings about its repressive legal system.
In its decision on Friday, which filled 150 pages, the Supreme Court said the cabinet minister responsible for approving China’s request could sign off on Mr Kim’s extradition if the minister received evidence from the Chinese government that “believe There were no sufficient grounds to say that Mr. Kim’s surrender would be at risk of being subject to an act of torture.”
The court determined the circumstances under which it would be possible to rely on such assurances, as well as the specific guidance it would have to seek to allow extradition, including allowing the suspect to be monitored every 48 hours.
The Supreme Court gave the New Zealand government until the end of July to receive assurances from China and report back.
New Zealand’s relations with China have come under scrutiny recently, especially due to escalating tensions between China and Australia. Following a meeting in New Zealand this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed concerns about China’s activities in a range of areas, including Hong Kong and the South China Sea. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China rejected his comments as “irresponsible” and “baseless”.
Charlotte Graham-Maclay Contributed reporting from Wellington, New Zealand.