Hong Kong – May 30, 2019 – AmCham appreciated the opportunity to meet with Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung to explain our concerns about the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance on Wednesday May 29. The Chief Secretary said the government was keen to alleviate worries that the bill would have a negative impact on Hong Kong’s status as an international business hub.
AmCham’s Position on the Bill
AmCham feels that there are too many uncertainties in fundamental sections of the proposed legislation that must be addressed and explained to the broader Hong Kong community before tabling the bill for passage by the Legislative Council. Hong Kong is not ready to see this bill passed, and we do not see why it should be rushed through when the loophole it seeks to address has existed for 20 years. We believe that for Hong Kong to remain a center of excellence for the rule of law and legal practice that due legislative process is followed. We have asked the Chief Secretary’s office for answers to the following questions:
- With 30 foreign diplomats reportedly indicating that they do not support the ordinance and that this may lead to a review of their home countries relationship with Hong Kong, how does the government plan to address these concerns to avoid any negative impact on Hong Kong’s international hub status?
- Three senior judges in Hong Kong publicly announced they are “deeply disturbed” by the proposed bill and saw the bill as “unworkable” because its amendments ignored the lack of trust in the legal system of mainland China. If one of the bill’s two main gatekeepers – the courts – feel the proposed legislation is unworkable, how will the government ensure that the rule of law in Hong Kong is not compromised if this legislation is forced ahead?
- The government has not clarified specific boundaries for the person who holds the authority to make extradition requests from mainland China. While it was once said extradition requests could only be made by any recognized individuals from the Central People’s Government, the Security Bureau also noted that “extradition requests would come from Mainland China courts, which are not internationally held in the same regard as Hong Kong’s.” Please kindly clarify.
- Secretary for Security John Lee highlighted that the amendments are “mainly aimed at fugitives who have committed serious crimes and do not affect Hong Kong’s freedom of the press and speech as safeguarded in the Basic Law and Hong Kong Law.” How will they be safeguarded technically?
- In the government’s reply to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission it was said that the ordinance amendments help establish the reputation of Hong Kong in combating crimes. Why would Hong Kong want to risk its reputation for the rule of law in order to gain this new reputation of “combating crimes” with the city’s relatively low crime rate?
- The government emphasized that the amendments focus only on fugitives, but not local ordinary citizens. How will this be differentiated?
- Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said the government would consider including a requirement that a requesting jurisdiction would guarantee suspects a fair trial. How will the Hong Kong Government ensure the requesting jurisdiction guarantees a fair trial?
- Media reports noted that the “Security Bureau admitted that, with the amendments to the extradition law, the Chinese government can request the freezing of the assets of a person deemed to be a fugitive from the mainland” Please provide more details on this to ensure business confidence is not at risk.
The Hong Kong government's response can be found here.
Ms. Agnes Tsang
Director, Government Relations & Public Affairs
Email: [email protected]
Ms. Queenie Tsui
Manager, Government Relations & Public Affairs
Email: [email protected]
ABOUT AMCHAM HONG KONG
With about 1,400 members, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham) is one of the largest American Chambers outside the United States, the largest international chamber in Hong Kong, and one of the most dynamic and influential international business organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. AmCham’s mission is to foster commerce among the United States, Hong Kong, and Mainland China; and to enhance Hong Kong's stature as an international business center.