Newsletter – March 2019

On the Amendments to Hong Kong’s Extradition Law

The Amendments

  • Includes the rest of the People’s Republic of China in one-off extradition arrangements.
  • Excludes nine items of offences (deemed “white collar crimes”) from such case-based surrenders
  • Excludes the Legislative Council from the vetting process, making the chief executive the only person who may initiate case-based “special arrangements.” 
For a simple explanation, please check out Au Nok-hin’s briefing pack here.
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Implications in Hong Kong

  • Any person of any nationality in Hong Kong or passing by Hong Kong to be extradited to Mainland China
  • Worrying given the precedent of the disappearance of the Causeway Bay booksellers.
  • Journalists and activists are particularly under threat with the new amendments.
Reactions

  • The European Union has also conveyed its concerns directly to the government.
    “We are concerned about the effect amendments could have on EU citizens, either residing in Hong Kong or passing through it, and about the possibility of the re-surrender of fugitives. Satisfactory safeguards should be enforced in case of ad hoc extradition. We have conveyed our concerns to the Hong Kong authorities.”
  • The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong both expressed their worry of the broad coverage by the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
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Controversy in Taiwan

  • The government justified the need and the time crunch for the amendments by stating the homicide case in Taiwan. The problem herein lies in the fact that as a solution, the government included Taiwan in “the rest of the People’s Republic of China,”  making it an issue of sovereignty.
  • Three lawmakers from Hong Kong – Eddie Chu, Raymond Chan, and Charles Mok, James To, and former lawmaker Nathan Law went to Taiwan in early March
  • Taiwan Legislative Yuan passed a provisional proposal stating that it would only accept extradition arrangements between Hong Kong and Taiwan without including Mainland China.
  • Later in March, officials from Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council criticised the Security Bureau’s proposal, and said it might issue a travel alert for Hong Kong if the government decides to continue with the bill.
Opinion Pieces

  • Barrister, politician and former legislative councillor Margaret Ng has been very vocal on the subject. She notably said during interviews that the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance may be even more vicious that the legislation of Article 23, and that journalists will be vulnerable under the updated Ordinance. You may read more from her Q&A with Stand News here. [only available in Chinese]
  • Martin Lee, pro-democracy veteran, senior counsel and former legislative councillor also wrote on the topic of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, addressing the business community to stay vigilant, just because the nine economic items of crime were taken out does not mean that they are safe from extradition. You may read more from his piece in Apple Daily here. [only available in Chinese]
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Input by Legal Experts

  • Chairman of the Bar Association Philip Dykes said that the government’s claim that the amendment fixes a loophole in the extradition law is false, that there is no loophole. He is also concerned by the lack of access to fair trial in Mainland China. The Bar Association issued two pieces of observation on the amendments :
  • Honorary Senior Counsel Johannes Chan noted the lack of proper public consultation, the destruction it may cause to the One Country Two Systems framework, and agreeing with the Bar Association on the lack of loophole that needs to be filled.
  • NYU Law Professor Jerome Cohen stated his concerns for the protection of human rights once the amendments go through, and the US, Canada, and the UK’s reason for not signing on a long-term extradition agreement with China being its pervasive justice system.
Reports on Hong Kong Published in March

UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights Report
The UK Six-Monthly Report on Hong Kong
US-Hong Kong Policy Act Report
US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018
Hong Kong Submissions to the UN General Discussion on the Right to Peaceful Assembly

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