Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019

Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019
Regional Emblem of Hong Kong.svg
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Considered byLegislative Council of Hong Kong
Legislative history
Bill published on29 March 2019
Introduced bySecretary for Security John Lee
First reading3 April 2019
Related legislation
Fugitive Offenders Ordinance
Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance
Status: Pending

The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Chinese: 2019年逃犯及刑事事宜相互法律協助法例(修訂)條例草案) is a proposed bill regarding Cap. 525) so that arrangements for mutual legal assistance can be made between Hong Kong and any place outside Hong Kong.[2] The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019. The government proposed to establish a mechanism for transfers of fugitives not only for Taiwan, but also for Mainland China, Macau and Islamic Republic of Iran, which are not covered in the existing laws.[3]

The introduction of the bill caused widespread criticism domestically and abroad from the legal profession, journalist organisations, business groups, and foreign governments fearing the further erosion of Hong Kong's legal system and its built-in safeguards, as well as damaging Hong Kong's business climate. They were concerned about the heightened risk that Hong Kong citizens and foreign nationals passing through the city could be sent for trial to mainland China, where courts are under Chinese political control.[4][5] Authorities in Taipei stated that Taiwan would not agree to extradite any suspects from Hong Kong, on grounds that Taiwanese citizens in Hong Kong would be at greater risk of being extradited to Mainland China under the proposed bill, and suggested that legislation was politically motivated.[6][7] The Hong Kong government's rush to implement the legislation to extradite also gave rise to a precedent to short-circuit procedural safeguards in the Legislative Council.[8]

There have been multiple protests against the bill in Hong Kong. On 9 June, protesters estimated to number from hundreds of thousands to more than a million marched in the streets and called for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down.[9][10] The 12 June protests outside the Legislative Council descended into violent clashes between the police and protesters, with at least 79 people injured and another round of international attention. On 15 June Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced she would suspend the proposed bill indefinitely.[11] This did not cause protests to cease however, and unrest continued on 16 June as concern mounted the suspension would only be temporary.[12]

Background

In early 2018, 19-year-old Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan, proceeding to return to Hong Kong. Chan admitted to Hong Kong police that he killed Poon but the police did not charge him for murder and he was not extradited to Taiwan because a special extradition arrangement could not be brokered to everyone's satisfaction.[13] Until May 2019, the two ordinances in Hong Kong, the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance, were not applicable to the requests for surrender of fugitive offenders and mutual legal assistance between Hong Kong and Taiwan.[13][14] In February 2019, the government proposed changes to fugitive laws, establishing a mechanism for case-by-case transfers of fugitives by the Hong Kong Chief Executive to any jurisdiction with which the city lacks a formal extradition treaty, which it claims will close the "legal loophole".[15]