Tue, Mar 05, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Groups protest planned HK extradition legislation

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

A coalition of human rights groups yesterday protested outside the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei against a plan by the Hong Kong government to amend the territory’s two laws governing extradition.

The change, proposed after a murder suspect fled from Taiwan to Hong Kong, would allow criminals to be extradited between the territory and Taiwan, which it recognizes as part of China.

However, the groups are worried that the changes could allow dissidents arrested in the territory to stand trial elsewhere in China.

Hong Kong Legislative Council (Legco) Paper No. CB(2)767/18-19(03) excludes prisoners of conscience from being delivered to the Chinese government, but Beijing has often found excuses to arrest and indict dissidents, such as by claiming that they have evaded taxes, Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said.

“It is far from news that the Chinese government would arrest people in Hong Kong and amending the extradition laws [to allow criminals to be delivered from the territory to elsewhere in China] would legalize what is already happening,” he said.

The Hong Kong Security Bureau on Feb. 15 advised the Legco to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance, saying that the areas where the two laws can be applied should be changed to include “other parts of the People’s Republic of China.”

The Hong Kong government should communicate with Taiwan’s government on the proposal and reconsider its plan, the union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Covenants Watch, the New School for Democracy and the Taiwan New Constitution Foundation said in a joint statement.

The groups held a protest in front of the office yesterday because it was the last day that the Legco was scheduled to consult civil groups on the amendments, association secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling (邱伊翎) said, adding that the council has not yet discussed the matter with the Taiwan.

“Instead of expanding China’s extradition authority, the council could simply sign a separate extradition agreement with the Taiwanese government,” foundation deputy executive Raymond Sung (宋承恩) said.

That the Legco intends to solve a simple extradition problem by choosing “the most controversial” option raises questions about the integrity of Hong Kong lawmakers, he said.

“We are here today not only to advocate the rights of Taiwanese, but also the rights of Hong Kongers,” New School for Democracy board member Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元) said.

The territory used to be a paragon of freedom and the rule of law in Asia, but it is gradually losing those values, he said.

“We hope that the Hong Kong government could do more to protect human rights in the territory and not lose its faith in freedom and the rule of law — which have always made Hong Kongers proud,” Tseng said.

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