News By/Courtesy: Ritwik Guha Mustafi | 06 Apr 2020 11:35am IST


  • Objective was to provide for transfers of fugitives from China, Taiwan, and Macau
  • The bill faced widespread criticism due to fear of erosion of Hong Kong's legal system
  • The bill was formally scrapped on 9th September, 2019

Extradition is an act where one jurisdiction delivers a person accused or convicted of committing a crime in another jurisdiction, over to their law enforcement. It is a cooperative law enforcement process between the two jurisdictions and depends on the arrangements made between them. Besides the legal aspects of the process, extradition also involves the physical transfer of custody of the person being extradited to the legal authority of the requesting jurisdiction [1].  

The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019  was a proposed bill regarding extradition to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in relation to special surrender arrangements and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance 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 to establish a mechanism for transfers of fugitives not only for Taiwan, but also for Mainland China and Macau, which are currently excluded in the existing laws [3]. 

The existing extradition law specifically states that it does not apply to "the Central People's Government or the government of any other part of the People's Republic of China".But the proposed changes would have allowed for the Hong Kong government to consider requests from any country for extradition of criminal suspects, even countries with which it doesn't have an extradition treaty and including mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.So people wanted for crimes in those territories could potentially be sent there to face trial.The requests would be decided on a case-by-case basis by the chief executive.Several commercial offences, such as tax evasion, were removed from the list of extraditable offences amid concerns from the business community [4].

Critics said people would be subject to arbitrary detention, unfair trial and torture under China's judicial system.The proposed changes to the extradition laws had the capacity to put anyone in Hong Kong doing work related to the mainland at risk. Opposition to the law was widespread from the start, with groups from all sections of society - ranging from lawyers to housewives - voicing their criticism or starting petitions.Hundreds of petitions against the amendments started by university and secondary school alumni, overseas students and church groups also appeared online. Lawyers, prosecutors, law students and academics marched in silence and called on the government to shelve the proposal [5].

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets and the bill was eventually suspended. But protesters have continued regular demonstrations, which spiralled into a wider pro-democracy movement. The bill's formal withdrawal meets only one of five key demands emphasised by some protesters, who have often chanted "five demands, not one less" in Hong Kong's streets.The others are [6]:

  • For the protests not to be characterised as a "riot".
  • Amnesty for arrested protesters.
  • An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.
  • Implementation of complete universal suffrage.

The bill was suspended and was eventually scrapped on 9th September, 2019. Critics have often stated that the poor protection to the defenants provided under Chinese law is one of the major reasons that Hong Kong and China don't have an extradition treaty. So, although Hong Kong is a part of China, it has its own legal system.



2.) Timothy Tso, Legal Service Division Report on Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL (April 6, 2020, 12:27 P.M.),

3.) Jeff Li, Hong Kong-China extradition plans explained, BBC NEWS (April 6, 2020, 12:31 P.M.),

4.) Ibid.

5.) ibid.

6.) Farah Master & James Promfet, Hong Kong formally scraps extradition bill that sparked months of protest, BBC NEWS (April 6, 2020, 12:35 P.M.),

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 06 Apr 2020 13:12pm IST

Tags : , Bill, transfer, fugitives, criticism, erosion, legal, system, scrapped

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