Sun, May 20, 2018 - Page 1 News List

UN experts decry Spain deportations

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

An article posted on the Web site of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls on Spain to halt deportations to China.

Screen grab from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Web site

Several UN human rights experts have expressed concern about Spain’s decision to deport Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, saying that they could face torture and other ill treatment there.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday published an article in which the experts urged Spain to halt deportations of fraud suspects to China after two Taiwanese were deported to China on Thursday.

The two were part of a group of 269 suspects, including 219 Taiwanese, who were arrested by Spanish authorities in December 2016 over their alleged involvement in telecom fraud.

“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.

The suspects could face severe sanctions in China for the crimes they are accused of, including forced labor or even capital punishment, they said.

They also expressed concern over what they called Spain’s failure to adequately investigate allegations by some of the suspects that they were taken to Spain on the promise of working as tour guides, insinuating that they could have been victims of human trafficking.

“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,” the experts said.

Echoing the UN experts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — which had protested Thursday’s deportations — yesterday renewed calls for the Spanish government to properly handle the case based on the principles of humanitarianism and human rights protection.

“Madrid is urged to adhere to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, as well as the universal values of rule of law, human rights and freedom, and join us in combating transnational crimes,” the ministry said in a statement.

Spain is not the first nation to deport Taiwanese facing fraud charges to China due to pressure from Beijing.

Since the first such incident occurred in April 2016, several nations have chosen to abide by Beijing’s “one China” principle and deport Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, including Kenya, Armenia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The latest deportations by Spain raised the number of Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects who have been deported to China to more than 360.

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