New Zealand’s Supreme Court on Wednesday handed down a landmark ruling that would allow the government to export an accused murderer to communist China for trial.
New Zealand suspended extradition to Hong Kong in 2020 and has never previously granted an extradition request from the Beijing government.
The subject of the controversial decision is Kyung Yup Kim, accused of the 2009 murder of a 20-year-old woman named Chen Peiyun in Shanghai.
Kim, who was born in Korea but holds a permanent residence in New Zealand, was visiting his girlfriend in Shanghai at the time. The victim was a waitress and sex worker found clubbed and strangled in a desolate neighborhood near town.
chinese font mentioned they found forensic evidence linking Kim to the crime, as well as testimony from a friend who said Kim admitted he could have “beat a prostitute to death”.
Kim was arrested in New Zealand in 2011, jailed for five years and given limited release with electronic monitoring for three years after that – a record jail term without trial for New Zealand. He maintains that he is innocent and accuses his girlfriend from Shanghai of having committed the murder. Her defense attorneys say the girlfriend used her connections to the Chinese Communist Party to attribute the murder to Kim.
Lower courts have blocked previous extradition requests from China on the grounds that China’s authoritarian legal system cannot guarantee a fair trial and Chinese prisoners are at high risk of torture. On Wednesday, New Zealand’s Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that Chinese officials had provided sufficient assurances that Kim would receive a fair trial and would not be abused in prison.
“The assumption that the diplomatic assurances of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] can provide a solid basis for extradition is deeply concerning. It is the same PRC that assures the world that allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang are fabrications, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary,” said Dr Anna High of the University of Otago at UK Guardian.
“There are serious and well-documented problems with China’s criminal justice system — the idea that a diplomatic promise is sufficient basis to put someone back in that system seems, at best, incredibly naive,” High said. .
Michael Caster, co-founder of human rights group Safeguard Defenders, told the FinancialTimes he feared that other countries would follow the New Zealand precedent and start extraditing prisoners to the brutal Chinese regime.
“The tribunal did not do its homework, it was not swayed by the reality of China’s consistent pattern of violating diplomatic assurances and consular agreements. On a case-by-case basis, the requirement that China grant consular access has been ignored or outright rejected,” Caster said.
“This is a very retrograde decision for international human rights law, and the Chinese will now be able to use it as a precedent to extradite economic criminals,” said Kim’s lawyer Tony Ellis, echoing Caster’s warning.
“Ellis suggested that New Zealand’s heavy economic dependence on China may have influenced the minister’s decision to extradite Kim. More than a quarter of New Zealand exports go to China” , said the FinancialTimes observed.
Kim’s lawyers have said they will file a complaint with the UN Human Rights Commission to block the extradition, and if that fails they will seek another New Zealand judicial review based on ill health Kim’s, which includes liver and kidney disease as well as a brain tumor.