GENEVA (18 May 2018) – UN human rights experts* say they are deeply concerned by Spain’s decision to extradite Chinese and Taiwanese individuals to the People’s Republic of China where they face fraud charges and may be exposed to the risk of torture, other ill-treatment, or the death penalty.
In December 2016, Spanish authorities arrested 269 suspects, including 219 Taiwanese, over their alleged involvement in telecom scams to defraud Chinese citizens. Two Taiwanese individuals were extradited to China on Thursday, and the experts fear that others will be deported soon.
“We are dismayed by the decision by the Spanish courts to extradite these individuals. The ruling clearly contravenes Spain’s international commitment to refrain from expelling, returning or extraditing people to any State where there are well-founded reasons to believe that they might be in danger of being subjected to torture,” the experts said.
“Moreover, the penalty they face for the crimes referred to in the extradition decision could lead to severe sanctions, including forced labor and even a risk of capital punishment,” they added.
The experts also expressed concerns that some of the individuals to be extradited may have been victims of human trafficking, saying several individuals had stated they were taken to Spain under the promise that they would work as tourism guides. They were subsequently forced to work making fraudulent calls back to China.
“These allegations do not appear to have been adequately investigated by the Spanish authorities, nor taken into consideration prior to the extradition decision, thus putting at risk people who are already in a situation of extreme vulnerability,” the experts said.
“Any policy of deporting people without due process safeguards, case-by-case risk assessments and adequate protection measures violates international law and exposes them to the risk of further human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture.
“We call on the Spanish authorities to suspend the process of deporting these individuals, and to immediately review the extradition decision with a view to ensuring the full respect of its international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Convention Against Torture and The Refugee Convention.”