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UN human rights experts urge Spain to halt extraditions to China fearing risk of torture or death penalty

China deportations

18 May 2018

UN human rights experts urge Spain to halt extraditions to China fearing risk of torture or death penalty


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.”


The UN experts: Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Councils independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms.Alia El Khatib ( +417229179209 /[email protected] )  or Ms. Krystel Abi Habib (+417229179042 / [email protected]) or write to [email protected]

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: