CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Amendment of extradition law a real threat commission warns

HONG KONG (SE): Jackie Hung Ling-yu, project officer of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Hong Kong, said she does not believe that the government will be able to protect the people against the abuse of human rights if the proposed amendment of extradition bill is passed.
 
In February, the territory’s Security Bureau proposed amending the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance and the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance to allow extraditions to Taiwan, Macau and mainland China, allowing only a short consultation period which ended on March 4. 
 
The amendment was proposed after local authorities were unable to extradite a murder suspect to stand trial in Taiwan.
 
The bill met with strong distrust from different sectors and was viewed as a means by which Chinese authorities might be able to target political dissidents in Hong Kong. Hung believes that human rights in Hong Kong will be severely threatened if the amendment is passed. 
 
She explained that under the amendments, suspects in Hong Kong can be extradited if there is prima facie evidence against them. However, she said prima facie evidence is unreliable as in many cases this can be refuted and does not lead to conviction.
 
However, she pointed out that once a suspect is extradited to China, the protections under Common Law, the Bill of Rights Ordinance and the court’s system of appeals, will disappear under a different legal system. 
 
She added that the freedom of the media in Hong Kong, which is also protection against human rights abuse, is not present in China. She said she does not believe that the Hong Kong government can guard against human rights abuses, as the chief executive is not elected by universal suffrage.
 
Secretary for Security, John Lee Ka-chiu, tried to calm public sentiment in March by announcing that nine categories of commercial crime would be excluded from the bill. 
 
Despite that, on March 31, thousands of people marched from Wanchai to the Central Government Offices in Tamar to protest the bill. 
 
The Civil Human Rights Front, organiser of the rally, put the turnout at 12,000, while the police estimated that around 5,000 people took part.
 
The bill had its first reading in the Legislative Council on April 3.

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