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Amendments to extradition rules not targeted at Taiwan: Hong Kong

2019/02/23 16:17:42

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) The Hong Kong government's proposal to amend its extradition rules was not targeted at Taiwan and covers other places too, said Secretary for Security John Lee (李家超) in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

Lee made the remarks after some Taiwanese politicians questioned the planned revision to allow the surrender of fugitives to any jurisdiction with which the city has not entered into bilateral extradition agreements, including Macau, Taiwan and mainland China. The politicians said the revision was politically motivated.

Lee, however, said that it does not deal only with cases involving Taiwanese people, nor any particular case. Instead it applies to jurisdictions without an existing agreement with Hong Kong on surrendering fugitives.

The proposal drew opposition from some Taiwanese officials and politicians, who said it was based on Beijing's "one China" principle, under which China defines Taiwan as part of its territory.

Although Taiwan has been seeking mutual judicial assistance with different jurisdictions, including Hong Kong, the government will not accept an extradition agreement that erodes Taiwan's dignity and sovereignty, said Liu Yi-chun (劉怡君), a prosecutor with the Department of International and Cross-Strait Legal Affairs under the Ministry of Justice.

According to Taiwan's New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), if such amendments were passed, China would treat Taiwan as part of its jurisdiction and more than 2 million Taiwanese who work and study in Hong Kong could face the same fate as Lee Ming-che (李明哲).

Lee, a Taiwanese NGO activist long ­detained in China for his criticism of Beijing, was sentenced to five years in prison for subversion of state power in 2017, making him the first Taiwanese to be convicted of the offense.

Hong Kong's Security Bureau proposed to the Legislative Council that current rules on extradition be amended to facilitate two-way cooperation with countries or areas with which the territory has not inked extradition treaties on Feb. 12.

According to the bureau, the plan was motivated by a case in which a Hong Kong woman was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend in Taiwan.

As Hong Kong does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan, it cannot send the suspect to be prosecuted and stand trial in Taiwan, which has jurisdiction over the case.

As a result, the Hong Kong government proposed legal revisions that would enable it to negotiate cooperation agreements with Taiwan and China on the extradition of fugitives on a case-by-case basis.

The proposal elicited mixed reactions in Hong Kong.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong expressed its support, saying public concerns remain high over the Taiwan murder case and the inability to prosecute the suspect without a formal extradition arrangement.

James To Kun-sun (涂謹申), a Democratic Party lawmaker, voiced opposition to the proposal, however, citing worries that the Hong Kong government could abuse the amended legislation by granting Chinese government requests to extradite Hong Kong citizens to the mainland.

(By Stanley Cheung and Chung Yu-chen)