HK extradition bill: Only China’s supreme court should be able to request transfer of fugitives, lawmaker says

11-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 7:53 AM Print This Post

The power to request a fugitive be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China should rest solely with the country’s supreme court, a lawmaker has said of a contentious extradition bill.

“China has adopted the rule of law. But policies made by the central government are often distorted when they reach the provincial and municipal levels,” said financial services sector legislator Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, a member of the Business and Professionals Alliance, on Friday.

“That’s why I have suggested that only the Supreme People’s Court should have the power to initiate an extradition request [if the bill is passed].”

The controversial bill drew heated debate at the city leader’s monthly question and answer session in the Legislative Council on Thursday.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor dismissed concerns and criticism against the government proposal as “trash talk”. In return, opposition lawmakers shouted insults and a profanity at Lam, calling her a liar and an unrespectable woman.

The bill would allow case-by-case transfers of fugitives between Hong Kong and jurisdictions the city lacks a long-term agreement with, including mainland China and Taiwan.

The proposal sparked concerns among the pro-democracy camp, human rights groups, the business sector, Taiwan and some foreign powers that anyone in Hong Kong could be caught and transferred to mainland China for political reasons or inadvertent business offences.

Cheung, speaking on a radio show, said the general public and the business sector were worried because the government had rushed to put forth its proposal and the pan-democratic camp had been “exaggerating and politicising” the issue.

“I think Hongkongers and the business community will be less worried if the government accepts the two amendments I suggest,” Cheung said.

Earlier, the government agreed to remove nine offences from the original list of 46 after lobbying by the business sector.

The exempted offences were mostly related to commercial crimes, concerning bankruptcy, stock exchange, intelligence property, capital transfer, tax and trade description.

Apart from limiting the power to request to the top national court, Cheung’s other idea, floated earlier, was to further narrow the scope of offences by keeping it only to those entailing a minimum prison sentence of seven to 10 years.

The current proposal covered offences leading to a minimum of three years in jail.

Cheung added the government should spend more time explaining its proposal to relieve public concerns.

When asked whether he and his colleagues would veto the proposal if the government refused the additional changes, Cheung said he wished for a positive response but the alliance had to further discuss its voting strategy.

On the same radio show, Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai urged the government to retract the proposal and warned that the pan-democratic bloc would launch an all-out filibuster war in Legco if the government refused to take a step back.

“Time is still on the chief executive’s side. She can retract the proposal, and solve the Taiwan murder case with a one-off arrangement. Afterwards, the government can restart a better public consultation for an extradition arrangement covering other jurisdictions, ” Wu said.

The amendment debate was triggered when Hongkonger Chan Tong-kai was accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in Taipei last year, but fled before facing charges. He was jailed in Hong Kong for 29 months for related money-laundering charges in April and could be released as early as October.

The government’s haste to pass the bill is to allow for Chan’s extradition to Taiwan before then.

Taipei on Thursday said it would not request the transfer of Chan under the current proposed arrangement.


Category: Hong Kong

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