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Thursday, March 14, 2019, 14:38
HK's majority opinion backs amendment to extradition law
By Kathy Zhang
Thursday, March 14, 2019, 14:38 By Kathy Zhang

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu tells the media at the Central Government Complex in Tamar on Monday he has decided to officially ban the Hong Kong National Party. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)

Two-thirds of the people involved in a public consultation with the Security Bureau support a revision of Hong Kong’s extradition law, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu revealed on Wednesday.

Some opposition to the plan mainly came from reservations about the mainland’s judicial system, Lee said

The Security Bureau collected a total of 4,500 entries of views during the public consultation over the issue from mid-February to March 4, explained Lee. More than 3,000 supported the city in plugging the loophole of its existing law. Some 1,400 were against the revision, Lee said.

Lee briefed the public consultation results to the media. This comes after the Security Bureau, in late January, proposed amending the city’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. The change will enable the city to transfer suspects to or from the mainland, Macao and Taiwan, which is currently not allowed according to the ordinances.

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The majority of people consulted believe the amendment is in the interest of justice, Lee said. Most of the city’s people do not want to see Hong Kong become a haven for crime suspects, he added.

People also believe the revision will protect the city’s residents from possible security threats by criminals, according to the public consultation result.

Some opposition to the plan mainly came from reservations about the mainland’s judicial system, Lee said.

The special administrative region government’s proposal to amend the two ordinances was promoted by a murder case in Taiwan last year. The Taiwan authorities were unable to prosecute a Hong Kong man suspected of killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, as the man fled back to Hong Kong.

Lee reiterated that this case had exposed the loophole of Hong Kong’s legal system.

The proposal triggered concern from the city’s political and business sectors as some fear the revised law might be misused to extradite political offenders and create uncertainty - which would affect Hong Kong’s business environment.

Lee stressed that all aspects of existing law which protect people from being extradited due to political reasons or unintentional conduct will continue to apply.

Section 5 (1) of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance stipulates that a person shall not be handed over or committed to or kept in custody if his or her offense is of a political nature. Moreover, any request for a person to be handed over to another jurisdiction for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing him or her on account of his or her race, religion, nationality or political opinions would also be denied.

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Lee also reassured the business sector that the changes won’t affect the city’s business environment. There is no need for business people to worry about being extradited if they unintentionally violated the law on the mainland, he added.

“Politics should not override justice,” Lee stressed, adding that the SAR government will discuss the issue with Taiwan in order to reach an agreement.

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