June 11, 2019

HRP Visiting Fellow Dr. Tony Ellis Wins Appeal Barring Client’s Extradition to China


On June 11, 2019, the New Zealand Court of Appeal announced that it would block the extradition to China of Kyung Yup Kim for an alleged homicide. The Court cited New Zealand’s commitment to human rights and a reasonable fear that Mr. Kim would suffer torture or other abuse and lack of a fair trial in the Chinese criminal justice system. Human Rights Program Visiting Fellow Dr Tony Ellis, who is also a New Zealand barrister with Blackstone Chambers, has represented Mr. Kim for the last ten years.

In a press release, Dr. Ellis said that the nearly 100-page judgment should have “profound human rights importance” for New Zealand and the greater Common Law world. Following the Court’s decision, Justice Minister Andrew Little will be forced to consider the human rights situation in China, and whether or not to trust “diplomatic assurances given by China” that torture will not be used, and that Mr. Kim would receive a fair trial, said the New Zealand Herald. In The New York Times and elsewhere, Dr. Ellis stated that he was hopeful the judgment would remain undisturbed, given Prime Minister Arden’s and the Labour government’s focus on human rights and criminal justice reform, as well as favorable circumstances around the makeup of the Court, and the powerful precedent they have set in this decision.

In quashing the extradition order, New Zealand joins its neighbor Australia in concerns over Chinese human rights abuses and its implications for extradition. Over the past week, protesters have taken to Hong Kong streets, demonstrating against a proposed law that would likewise allow for extradition to mainland China.

Dr. Ellis has been in residence at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program for the Spring Semester of 2019. Here, he focuses his research on the arbitrary detention of the intellectually disabled within an international setting.

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