15 April 2020 :
The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic on 9 April 2020 ruled that eight Taiwanese charged with being involved in cross-border telecom fraud cannot be extradited to the People’s Republic of China.
The applicants disputed the previous decisions of the general courts authorizing their extradition, claiming that if the extradition is realized, there is a real risk that they would be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
They referred to the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights, which established the prohibition of torture as an absolute and non-derogable fundamental right.
These documents impose on a state the obligation not to extradite a foreign national, if they might be exposed to the real risk of torture or other forms of ill-treatment — the principle of non-refoulement.
The constitutional court’s assessment was based on answering two fundamental questions.
First, is there a real risk that applicants would be tortured or subjected to ill-treatment in China? Second, have the Chinese authorities provided sufficient diplomatic assurance that these applicants would not be tortured or subjected to ill-treatment?
The court evaluated a number of documents relating to the situation in China that have been elaborated on by the Czech authorities and international bodies.
These documents emphasized that cases of inhuman and degrading treatment or torture have been regularly reported in China over the past five years; that the judicial system is not independent, but is entirely subject to control by the Chinese Communist Party; and that torture is an integral part of the Chinese criminal justice system in which the criminal charge is based on a forced confession.
In addition, the court highlighted cases of ill-treatment in Chinese prisons due to poor prison conditions.
The Czech Republic received several assurances from Chinese authorities, such as that the death penalty would not be imposed or that consular personnel would be permitted to speak to those extradited to China.
However, there was no guarantee of private conversations with applicants without the presence of other persons.
The court held that in the case where the state tolerates a systematic violation of human rights, it is rather problematic to believe that diplomatic guarantees are being respected.