For Immediate Release
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) met with John Lee Ka-chiu, Secretary for Security, HKSAR Government, today (27 May) to discuss the Government’s proposal to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (FOO). Speaking after meeting Lee, HKGCC reiterated support for the underlying principle of the proposed amendments, but as the proposed changes would have significant and far-reaching implications to our criminal justice system, which is a key contributing factor to Hong Kong’s reputation as an international city, a comprehensive safeguards mechanism must also be included in the bill.
“Following several constructive dialogues with the Government, we received some positive response, such as the Administration taking out nine offences from the original list of 46,” said HKGCC Chairman Aron Harilela. “However, members remain concerned about the process and whether safeguards are adequate. We also see persistent concerns expressed by the general community and the legal profession.”
Although existing FOO safeguards would continue to apply, HKGCC feels they do not go far enough. 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.
Under the UK’s Extradition Act 2003, for example, the court is expressly required to “decide whether the person’s extradition would be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998” and that if the Court decides in the negative then it “must order the person’s discharge.”
“These safeguards are all the more important when the proposed regime is to be applied to all 170 jurisdictions where Hong Kong does not currently have a long term agreement, many of which have a lower level of human rights protection compared to Hong Kong,” said HKGCC CEO Shirley Yuen.
“We would have hoped more time be given for the community to digest the implications and discuss the amendments constructively. However, if the bill were to be passed, the following safeguards should be included:
- Requiring the executive authority and the court to take into account human rights and humanitarian factors;
- Extradition requests to Mainland China would be considered only if they came from the Central Government; and
- A higher threshold to cover only extraditable offences punishable with a prison sentence of 7 or more years should be set,” said Harilela.
“In the interest of clarity and certainty, and to further promote public confidence, consideration should be given to introducing these additional safeguards in the legislation,” he concluded.
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