LegCo Member Alvin Yeung announced today (26 April) that he is to introduce a member’s bill “Offences against the Person (Amendment) (Extra-territoriality) Bill 2019” (“the member’s bill”), and urged the government to withdraw its amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
Earlier this year, the government introduced the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019” (“the government bill”). The government bill amends existing laws relating to extradition and mutual legal assistance, thus enables the government to transfer suspects who are physically in Hong Kong and who committed crimes abroad to regions which Hong Kong has not signed extradition and/or mutual legal assistance in criminal matters agreements with.
The Secretary for Security has repeatedly explained that the objective of the government bill is to resolve a murder case in Taiwan in which a Hong Kong man murdered a young Hong Kong woman there and then fled to Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong and Taiwan had not signed any extradition agreement, the Hong Kong government was unable to transfer the suspect to Taiwan to be investigated and tried. The new mechanism laid out in the government bill will enable the Hong Kong government to extradite the suspect to Taiwan. However, Taiwanese authorities has stated that they might not accept the new arrangement under Taiwan’s principles on sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the new mechanism is open to application from China. Chinese authorities will be able to request Hong Kong to extradite anyone in Hong Kong to mainland China to be tried and serve sentence there. This has roused strong opposition and deep concerns among Hong Kong citizens, professionals, journalists, businesses both local and foreign, as well as many foreign governments.
Alvin Yeung pointed out that Chief Executive Carrie Lam once indicated that the government would continue to push forward the bill even if it does not work in the Taiwan murder case. This shows that the real rationale behind the amendment is not to resolve the murder case in Taiwan, but to open doors to China’s requests for extradition of Hongkongers, thereby exposing Hong Kong citizens to risks of being extradited to regions where the rule of law is nonexistent.
The member’s bill proposed by Alvin Yeung confers on the Hong Kong government and judiciary power to deal with cases wherein Hong Kong permanent residents or individuals who ordinarily reside in Hong Kong are suspected to have committed homicide, manslaughter, or attempts to murder abroad. Criminal investigation, prosecution, trial and serving of sentence will be conducted in Hong Kong.
The mechanism set out in the member bill’s will prevent Hongkongers from being transferred to jurisdictions where promise of fair trial and human rights safeguards are lacking. The proposal is not only a solution the present political dispute, more importantly, it addresses the origin of the problem and is able to bring the suspect of the murder case in Taiwan to justice.
Alvin Yeung emphasises that the member’s bill aims to provide a demonstrative framework to the government, showing that there are practical alternatives to resolve the murder case in Taiwan without having to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. He urges the government to withdraw the government bill, and consider adopting the extra-territoriality clause in the member’s bill in its future dealings concerning mutual assistance in criminal matters or extradition arrangements.
Offences against the Person (Amendment) (Extra-territoriality) Bill 2019:
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