Archive for ‘extradition law’

11/05/2019

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

Fighting erupted in Hong Kong’s legislature on Saturday over planned changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Several lawmakers were injured and one was taken to hospital as politicians clashed in the chamber.

Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong’s freedoms.

But authorities say they need to make the change so they can extradite a murder suspect to Taiwan.

One pro-Beijing lawmaker called it “a sad day for Hong Kong”.

Pro-democracy lawmaker James To originally led the session on the controversial extradition bill but earlier this week those supportive of the new law replaced him as chairman.

Tensions boiled over on Saturday, with politicians swearing and jumping over tables amid a crowd of reporters as they fought to control the microphone.

Scuffles broke out in Hong Kong's legislature over proposed changes to extradition lawsImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Opponents and supporters of the bill clashed in the legislature
Gary Fan stretchered out after clashes between opponents and supporters of Hong Kong's proposed extradition law changesImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan was taken out on a stretcher

Pro-democracy legislator Gary Fan collapsed and was carried out on a stretcher, while one pro-Beijing legislator was later seen with his arm in a sling.

Why change the extradition laws?

Under a policy known as “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong has a separate legal system to mainland China.

Beijing regained control over the former British colony in 1997 on the condition it would allow the territory “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

But Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam earlier this year announced plans to change the law so suspects could be extradited to Taiwan, Macau or mainland China on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie LamImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Some critics say Carrie Lam has “betrayed” Hong Kong over the law change

Ms Lam has cited the case of a 19-year-old Hong Kong man who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday in Taiwan before fleeing home.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they cannot help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Why object to the switch?

The proposed change has generated huge criticism.

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.

Even the normally conservative business community has objected. The International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the bill has “gross inadequacies” which could mean people risk “losing freedom, property and even their life”.

And Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, told the government-funded broadcaster RTHK last month the proposal was “an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security”.

Source: The BBC

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15/03/2019

Protesters arrested in Hong Kong over proposed China extradition law

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong police on Friday arrested five women who staged a protest inside the government’s headquarters over a proposal to allow fugitives to be extradited to mainland China, stoking human rights concerns.

In February, Hong Kong’s Security Bureau submitted a paper to the city’s legislature, proposing amendments to extradition laws that would include granting the city’s leader executive power to send fugitives to jurisdictions not covered by existing arrangements, including mainland China and Taiwan.

The proposal has been strongly opposed by some lawmakers, legal and rights groups who fear such it could be exploited by Beijing’s Communist Party leaders and lead to an erosion of Hong Kong’s judicial independence.

In video footage posted online, the five, who were demanding the extradition amendments be scrapped, rushed into the lobby of government headquarters where they staged a sit-down protest.

“Oppose legalised kidnapping,” the women, including several members of the pro-democracy party Demosisto, shouted. They were later hauled out by police into vehicles.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement a total of nine protesters were “removed” for blocking the lobby of its headquarters, and that a female security guard had been injured in a skirmish. A police spokesman gave no immediate comment.

Since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee that it would enjoy a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not allowed in mainland China, there has been no formal mechanism for the surrender of fugitives to mainland China.

The Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement that this was not an oversight, but a result of “grave concerns” about China’s legal and judicial system.

It said authorities were “jumping the gun” in seeking to force through such ad hoc rendition arrangements with China without a full consultation.

Some business groups, including the American Chamber of Commerce, expressed “serious reservations” about the proposal in a submission to Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee, and said they would “undermine perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe and secure haven for international business operations”.

The proposal also seeks to remove legislative oversight on individual extradition requests that may arise by giving the city leader executive authority to make such decisions.

In the February paper, the Security Bureau said “human rights and procedural safeguards” would remain unchanged. Requests in relation “to offences of a political character” shall be refused, the bureau said.

But some critics have expressed concern over how a political offence might be defined.

Demosisto, in a statement, described the proposed extradition reform as “an attempt to prepare to entrap oppositional voices for China”.

A former Chinese deputy minister for public security, Chen Zhimin, told reporters in Beijing this week that more than 300 “fugitives” wanted by mainland authorities were hiding in Hong Kong. He did not give details.

Source: Reuters

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