Britain formally raised concerns about proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition law to the government late last month, it emerged on Monday, with Consul General Andrew Heyn having raised the issue directly with the Secretary for Security, John Lee, and the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed in a letter to former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten that was published by the UK-based pressure group Hong Kong Watch on Monday, that the UK has also broached the issue with mainland authorities.
"We have made it clear to the Chinese and Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions that it is vital that Hong Kong enjoys, and is seen to enjoy, the full measure of its high degree of autonomy and rule of law as set out in the Joint Declaration and enshrined in the Basic Law... I can assure you that I, and my department, will continue to closely monitor developments in Hong Kong", Hunt wrote in the letter dated March 27.
The proposed changes to Hong Kong's extradition law would allow the government to surrender fugitives to other jurisdictions with which the territory does not have a formal extradition agreement, on a case-by-case basis.
Critics have expressed concerns that this could see people sent to places where their legal rights may not be fully guaranteed.
Hunt also claimed the public has clearly not had enough time to discuss the proposed changes, saying “it is clear that the relatively short formal consultation process has not been sufficient to capture the wide ranging views on this important topic."
Meanwhile, 13 British MPs have signed a motion urging the UK government to consider whether the proposed legal changes has has implications for UK-Hong Kong extradition arrangements.
This comes days after the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published a report expressing concerns that Hong Kong’s relative autonomy and rule of law were at risk, and that the city is moving towards “one country, one and a half systems.”
UK formally raises concerns over extradition law
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