A Chinese citizen drove back roads all day, all night and all day again, to transport a group of North Koreans – including two children – 1000km from the border town where he lived. And in a recently-released decision, immigration authorities have given the man protected person status in New Zealand because of his risk of being detained and tortured if he returned to China.
It heard he was taken in by Chinese police for questioning and released, and then men who he thought were North Korean agents followed him. “Over the next few days, [he] suffered several incidents on the road, in which the North Korean men tried to block him in or cut him off and stop his car. He managed to avoid them each time but they followed him.
“Four days after his first visit to the police station, [he] was again summoned to attend. When he did so, he was treated much more harshly. Initially, he was shackled into a chair in which his wrists and ankles were restrained in positions which quickly became uncomfortable. The police did not believe [him] and he was made to squat on the floor for some seven to eight hours, which caused him great pain, particularly in his lower back.”
When he was released, his son told him to leave and gave him an air ticket to New Zealand.
“[He] has consistently related a detailed and plausible account of being drawn into assisting the North Koreans, and subsequently being investigated about it,” the New Zealand tribunal said. “[He] has consistently related a detailed and plausible account of being drawn into assisting the North Koreans, and subsequently being investigated about it,” the tribunal said. “The narrative is brief in compass, but has been related with a wealth of detail.”
The tribunal found the man could be expected to be detained if he was returned to China and would likely be held in detention for some two to seven months. “During that period of detention, he will be at risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in an attempt to make him confess,” it ruled. “The use of torture in such conditions is widely acknowledged by reliable human rights monitors to be routine.”
The fate of the North Koreans is unknown.