In a historic ruling, New Zealand’s courts have decided to allow the extradition of one of its permanent resident to China to stand trial.
New Zealand’s supreme court made a historic appeal on Wednesday to accept the sending of Korean-born Kim Kyung-yup to China on charges of murdering a young Chinese woman named Peiyun Chen on his visit to Shanghai in 2009.
Like most Western nations, including the U.S., Australia and most of Europe, New Zealand does not have an extradition treaty with China, an agreement to transfer over an accused suspect of a crime from one country to another to be placed on trial.
The Chinese government allegedly assured that Kim would not be at risk of human rights abuses. The news of the court’s ruling, however, still came as a shock to many New Zealanders.
In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Anna High, co-director of the Otago University’s Centre for Law and Society, expressed she was “deeply troubled” by the court’s decision.
“There are grave and well-documented problems with China’s criminal justice system – the idea that a diplomatic promise is a sufficient basis for surrendering someone into that system seems, at best, incredibly naive.”
The New Zealand courts had previously voted to extradite Kim last year, but eventually rejected the notion after agreeing that China did not provide adequate reassurance that the suspect would not be tortured or abused.
Kim has repeatedly denied the murder charges, his lawyers adding that he would not be given a fair trial if he were to be transferred. They argued neither China’s word nor the assurances that he would be visited by consular staff who could verify his well-being were sufficient.
Many have expressed worry about the precedent that Kim’s extradition would set. Referring to last year’s court decision over Kim’s case, Victoria University law professor and former Llaw Commissioner Geoff McLay said that Kim is the “tip of the iceberg” and that China could request more extraditions in the future.
New Zealand originally received China’s extradition request back in May 2011; however, it is only in the current ruling that the courts concluded China could be trusted to not subject the accused to any human rights violations.