The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) met with John Lee Ka-chiu, Secretary for Security, HKSAR Government, today (19 March) to discuss the Government’s proposal to amend Hong Kong’s Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance and the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
HKGCC agrees that Hong Kong should not become a safe-haven for offenders trying to escape justice for crimes committed in other jurisdictions. Although extradition is a powerful deterrent in such cases it is also a very severe remedy. Therefore, it has to be approached with extreme caution and care, and should not be rushed.
“We would encourage engagement by the Government to consider views being raised in the community, so that if the proposal goes forward there is a clearly-defined framework that commands broad public support,” said HKGCC Chairman Aron Harilela. “Other issues also need to be considered. These include offences that may qualify for potential extradition and the safeguards available to protect the individual accused of the crime.”
There is widespread consensus that crimes which are the most heinous and deserving of potential extradition (subject to appropriate safeguards being put in place) are those involving the deliberate taking or endangering of other persons’ lives or sexual violence, as well as murder, arson, armed robbery and rape.
“While those crimes seem to have a consensus, there is more concern about the ability to extradite persons for crimes that are perceived to be less serious. If new extradition arrangements, with appropriate safeguards, are to be put in place for Mainland China and Taiwan, it would be sensible to start with those very serious crimes where there is a consensus for potential extradition,” said Harilela.
HKGCC agrees with the safeguards as given in the Government’s paper but do not think these go far enough. It is notable that extradition agreements with other jurisdictions, such as Canada and the U.K., contain much longer lists of grounds, some mandatory and others discretionary, for potential refusal.
“In the U.K., for example, an extradition request must be refused if, by reason of the trivial nature of the offence or certain other reasons it would be ‘unjust or oppressive’ to extradite the alleged offender,” said HKGCC CEO Shirley Yuen. “To garner greater public support, the full list of proposed safeguards needs to be published and subject to public discussion.”
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