Co-Chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China Louisa Wall MP and Simon O’Connor MP have written to Minister of Justice Hon Kris Faafoi arguing against the extradition of New Zealand residents and citizens to China, in light of widespread secret trials, torture and other abuses in China’s judicial system.
Ministry of Justice
17 June 2021
Dear Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister of Justice
We, the undersigned members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, write to you to express our concern at the prospect of New Zealand citizens or residents being extradited to the People’s Republic of China.
Last week the New Zealand Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling concluding that the Minister could reasonably approve the extradition of a New Zealand citizen or resident to China should certain assurances be given. Though we do not want to comment on the particular case of the individual, we are concerned by the precedent this may set for New Zealand citizens or residents facing charges in China.
The Court judgement recognised concerns relating to widespread torture and the lack of fair trials within China’s judicial system. However, it argued that Chinese government assurances on the treatment of the individual alongside agreements on monitoring mechanisms would be sufficient to allay these fears. The Court optimistically suggested that the Chinese government would be incentivised to honour its promises by the “serious diplomatic and reputational repercussions” that non-compliance would entail.
We are alarmed by the suggestion that the Chinese government’s promises on the treatment of its detainees should be accepted in good faith. Recent history has provided numerous examples to show otherwise. Just last month, Australian diplomats were denied access to the trial of Australian citizen Yang Hengjun, in direct contravention of a consular agreement between the two countries. China’s consular agreements with Canada were also violated in March this year when Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were subjected to a secret trial with no diplomatic representation. Canadian diplomats have been denied regular access to the the two Michaels, who have been detained since December 2018 and are believed to have experienced torture, sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.
We call on you to make a clear, public commitment to protecting New Zealand citizens and residents from the injustices of China’s judicial system. To do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent whereby the guarantees of the Chinese government are taken at face value, putting the wellbeing of our citizens and residents in jeopardy. Particularly at risk are Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Chinese diasporic groups living in New Zealand, with many already fearful of Chinese government attempts to monitor their activities.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Louisa Wall MP
Simon O’Connor MP
Co-Chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China