Pan-dems urge public opposition to revision of extradition law

March 04, 2019 12:48
More than a dozen pan-democratic lawmakers and members of the Civil Human Rights Front stage a protest against the proposed amendments to the extradition law outside the Mong Kok Police Station on Sunday. Photo: Now News

Pan-democrats are rallying the public against a government plan to revise the extradition law, which they say will put Hong Kong dissidents at risk of being extradited to the mainland.

More than a dozen pan-democratic lawmakers and members of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) on Sunday staged a protest outside the Mong Kok Police Station against the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The protesters said amending the law will open a gap in the city's judicial system.

Authorities are seeking to make changes to the law after Taiwan prosecutors sought a Hong Kong youngster accused in a murder case that happened on the island about a year ago.

To plug loopholes in the law, the Security Bureau has proposed an amendment to the law to enable the government, by means of a signed directive from the chief executive, to adopt a one-off, case-based approach to surrendering fugitives to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong does not have an agreement.

The protesters urged the public to express their opposition against the proposed revision before a 20-day public consultation on the matter is set to end on Monday.

They said the public is welcome to join a rally that will be held outside the compound of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Sai Wan on March 10 as well as a march from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the east wing forecourt of the government headquarters in Admiralty at the end of the month.

CHRF spokesman Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit said if the general public is opposed to the proposal, the commercial sector, which also has concerns over the proposal but has chosen to keep silent so far, will find the courage to step forward and oppose the law revision, forcing the government to fall back.

People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said the government obviously wants to take advantage of the Taiwan murder case to amend the extradition law.

The pan-dems have pushed for a public hearing on the matter but their request has been denied in the Legislative Council panels on security and administration of justice and legal services.

The Security Bureau has also rejected suggestions that the government give priority to the case, noting that the public consultation is only symbolic.

In a joint statement, a total of 19 professional groups, including Progressive Lawyers Group and Médecins Inspirés, said the revision covers a very wide range of crimes, and they are worried that some people in Hong Kong may be directly transferred to the mainland for trials once the amendment is passed.

That will not only accelerate blurring the line set by the “one country, two systems” principle but also impair the international community’s confidence in Hong Kong’s judicial independence, according to the statement.

Attending the annual meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that began on Sunday in Beijing, former police commissioner Tang King-shing, who is a Hong Kong member of the CPPCC, said he can understand why the society worry that the revised ordinance may be abused but stressed the authorities and the judicial system have to deal with any cases according to the basis of the law.

Philip Dykes, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, said in a TV interview that one should know the government had “intentionally” made the ordinance not applicable to the mainland, and the question now is what changes the mainland would make to justify the amendment.

The Security Bureau said on Sunday it would carefully consider opinions from both the Legco and the public.

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