For Immediate Release
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) appreciates the Government has listened to the concerns expressed by the community regarding the proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance and the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
The Chamber feels removal of nine of the most contentious crimes out of the proposed 46 offences, including offences involving unlawful use of computers, environmental pollution or protection of public health, as well as protection of intellectual property, copyrights, patents or trademarks, will go a long way towards easing people’s concerns. Moreover, the decision that only offences punishable by at least three years in prison will trigger the transfer of a fugitive is also welcomed.
“During our meeting with John Lee Ka-chiu, Secretary for Security, HKSAR Government, we clearly stated the community’s concerns and questioned why crimes that were perceived to be less serious were being included in the revisions. So we are pleased that he has taken onboard people’s worries and taken steps to address them,” said HKGCC Chairman Aron Harilela.
While HKGCC in general agrees with the safeguards that the Government has listed in its paper, and that Hong Kong should not become a safe-haven for offenders trying to escape justice for crimes committed in other jurisdictions, we note that many existing bilateral agreements have additional safeguards above and beyond what is stipulated in Cap 503 in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, added Harilela.
Hong Kong’s extradition agreements with other jurisdictions contain much longer lists of grounds for refusal, with some being mandatory and others discretionary. Some of the safeguards are necessary to avoid the party breaching its obligations under international treaties or agreements, while others also take into consideration humanitarian grounds.
“In Canada, for example, an extradition request must be refused if: ‘because there exist valid humanitarian grounds, it would, having regard to all the circumstances, be unjust or oppressive to return the person’,” said Chamber CEO Shirley Yuen. “Finland also includes a safeguard: ‘the offence is, having regard to all the circumstances, not sufficiently serious to warrant the surrender of the person sought’.”
The Chamber hopes the Government will also give careful consideration to the community’s views on safeguards to ensure the revisions have widespread public support and serve their purpose.
Media inquiries: Please contact Mr Anthony Cheng at 2823 1250 / email@example.com