In full: HK Law Society urges government not to rush controversial extradition bill before consultations

07-Jun-2019 Intellasia | HongkongFP | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Law Society of Hong Kong has said that the government should not rush the legislation of the controversial extradition bill and should conduct extensive consultation before taking it further.

Their 11-page submission to the Legislative Council was submitted ahead of a lawyers’ silent march set for Thursday night. Another protest against the bill is to be led by democrats this Sunday.

“The Law Society takes the view that as the proposed legislative amendments have far-reaching and important implications, there should be a comprehensive review of the extradition regime in Hong Kong and an extensive consultation with the stakeholders and the community,” it said. “The process takes time. As such, the HKSAR government should not rush the legislative exercise.”

The submission included a section of “additional views” that it received, which were more critical of the government’s proposal.

Under the section, the Law Society cited opinions stating that the public have grave concerns over the prospect of being extradited to mainland China, which has signed but has not ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The legal amendments could thus be conveniently be used for political persecution and suppress freedom of speech,” it wrote.

Hong Kong proposed legal amendments in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements most notably China and Taiwan. The plan would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight, though lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland.

The Law Society cited views that the chief executive is politically appointed and not subject to election by universal suffrage.

“Under this political arrangement, a Certificate from the CE [to initiate extradition] cannot be any safeguard at all,” it wrote.

Officials claim the extradition bill was spurred by the case of Poon Hiu-wing, a pregnant 20-year-old Hong Kong woman who was killed during a trip to Taiwan last February. Her boyfriend Chan Tong-kai is now serving jail time for unrelated charges, and the government said it must quickly establish a legal basis to transfer Chan to Taiwan to avoid him walking free.

But the Law Society cited views that the proposed case-by-case arrangement “could easily and abusively be turned into a permanent mechanism.”

It wrote that the government should put forward proposals to specifically address the Taiwan case. It suggested the Criminal Jurisdiction Ordinance be amended, so that Hong Kong courts could have extra-territorial jurisdictions to try a Hong Kong person who has committed a serious crime overseas in Hong Kong.

It also suggested that an express provision could be added so that the amendment could have retrospective effect to apply to the Taiwan case.

“Even assuming that the need for this piece of legislation could be justified, there is no convincing reason why the legislative exercise has to be urgent,” it added.

‘Top third ranking’

Meanwhile, Secretary for Security John Lee claimed that China was ranked 45 out of 140 countries in the World Economic Forum’s ranking on judicial independence, which was higher than Spain, Italy, South Korea and Thailand. He made his remarks during a special meeting of the Panel on Security on Wednesday morning.

“So if you divided it into thirds, China is ranking in the top third,” he said.

He was apparently referring to the Executive Opinion Survey by the World Economic Forum issued last year, in which China was ranked 46 out of 137 territories. The ranking was compiled by ratings from 12,274 responses from business executives.

Lee was surrounded by protesting democrats after the meeting. Neo Democrats lawmaker Gary Fan and a security guard were both injured during the 10-minute commotion.

Legislative Council President Andrew Leung urged lawmakers to be aware of safety when voicing their opinion. He added that the LegCo secretariat will look into the incident, and will handle it in accordance with past practice.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post