Why say “NO” to the extradition bill?
Q1: Which law is it about when more than 1 million protesters took the streets of Hong Kong and asked for the withdrawal?
A: “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019”, introduced by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, aims at amending two Ordinances: “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance” and “Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance”.
“Fugitive Offenders Ordinance” is especially contentious because it suggests removal of the geographical restrictions on the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan, so that Hong Kong could surrender offenders to different parts in China under a “one-off”, “case-based” or “special” arrangement. It is therefore named also as “China Extradition Law/Ordinance”.
Q2: Why does Hong Kong say “No” to the bill?
A: It is generally seen that the rights of the individual are not protected and the procedures are unjust.
In the “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Amendment) Bill”, surrender requests will be handled by the court and the Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government, and will not be discussed and monitored by the present Legislative Council. The decision of the Chief Executive to issue a surrender order is subject to judicial review. Fugitives can also lodge an appeal to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal through legal means. However, the Chief Executive was appointed by the Central People’s Government and it was believed that the Chief Executive will not turn down China’s request.
Q3: What is the role of the court when other countries make surrender requests to Hong Kong?
A: After the amendments to “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance”, magistrates in Hong Kong:
- can only scrutinise whether “evidence” and the request submitted by the country making the surrender request comply with the established procedure of “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance”;
- cannot scrutinise whether the person involved has actually committed an offence. Also, they cannot scrutinise whether human rights standards and juridical standards in the requesting country could provide the person involved with basic protection that is recognised by the international community.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor issued a joint statement and pointed out that the amendments would eradicate the judicial protection that Hong Kong originally possesses and persons involved may be surrendered to, for example, China, one of the countries where tortures, other forms of cruel treatments and unfair trials prevail.
Q4: How will Taiwanese be affected?
A: “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance” applies to every person in Hong Kong and also every Taiwanese and foreigner who transits through Hong Kong or goes to Hong Kong as a tourist, a student or a worker. China can make a surrender request to Hong Kong by referring to “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance” and Hong Kong will arrest and surrender the person involved to China.
46 items of offences (later reduced to 37) are covered in the “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Amendment) Bill” and among them, there are ambiguous offences including “mutiny” and “incitement to commit genocide”, etc. At the moment, the Hong Kong Government undertakes that political offenders will not be surrendered. However, protestors in Hong Kong, overseas media, the business community and the public remain sceptical about the claim because previous incidents like “Causeway Bay Booksellers’ Disappearances” and “Lee Ming Che Incident” show that China may make surrender requests by referring to other offences.
Q5：Has the Taiwanese Government responded?
A: Mr Chiu Chui Cheng, Deputy Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council said in March that Taiwan will not discuss with the Hong Kong Government if there is “Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Amendment) Bill”. Even if the bill is passed, the Taiwanese Government will not agree with the case-based request suggested by Hong Kong, given that Taiwanese people in Hong Kong or going to Hong Kong may be surrendered to China. Taiwan also considers issuing a travel alert for Hong Kong
(Reference: Hong Kong Bar Association, Amnesty International Hong Kong, Central News Agency and Mingpao)