Hong Kong's amended extradition law will provide better safeguards for suspects than under the existing legislation, the Department of Justice said.
The department issued a statement late on Thursday in response to a silent march by some members of the legal sector against the proposed amendments.
The department issued a statement late on Thursday in response to a silent march by some members of the legal sector against the proposed amendments
It stressed that the government's "extremely stringent" procedures in handling extradition requests, as well as the "gatekeeper" roles of Hong Kong courts and the executive authorities, will safeguard the rights of fugitives facing extradition to other jurisdictions.
Executive scrutiny includes the DoJ's assessment of whether the extradition request meets the legal requirements, as well as the chief executive's decision based on the department's advice.
Moreover, the judicial process includes open court hearings and the application for a judicial review or habeas corpus, or both, by the person involved.
Under the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, Hong Kong courts have the final say on whether to accept or reject an extradition request. Fugitives in Hong Kong are also allowed to resort to various means to oppose an unfounded extradition request, including applying for a judicial review, launching an appeal or making a torture claim.
The DoJ reiterated that the rendition bill is aimed at resolving a Taiwan murder case, and plugging loopholes in the current regime for legal cooperation in criminal matters.
The planned changes to the city's extradition laws were triggered by a murder case, in which Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai fled Taiwan and returned to Hong Kong after allegedly killing his girlfriend there. Taiwan has been unable to prosecute Chan in the absence of a formal rendition agreement between the two places.
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The Fugitive Offenders Ordinance has been in effect for more than two decades since its enactment, striking a balance between pursuing fugitives and protecting human rights, according to the statement.
The DoJ firmly believes the judiciary and all its judicial officers will continue to exercise its power in a fair and just manner, free from any interference.
The revamped bill proposed by the SAR government will allow Hong Kong to transfer fugitives, on a case-by-case basis, to or from other jurisdictions with which the city has not signed extradition agreements, including the Chinese mainland, Macao and Taiwan.
The government will table the revised bill at the Legislative Council's full council meeting for its second reading on Wednesday.
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