Members of the legal subsector for the Election Committee which made Carrie Lam Chief Executive in 2017 have issued a joint statement calling on the government to withdraw its plan to allow one-off extraditions to places Hong Kong does not have formal treaties with, including the mainland.
They warn that if the proposed legal amendments are passed, it will severely undermine the international community's confidence in Hong Kong’s criminal justice system and its commitment to protecting human rights.
The 30-member committee, which consists of legal sector heavyweights like Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes, Civic Party chairman Alan Leong and academic Eric Cheung, said the legislature made a deliberate choice more than two decades ago not to allow surrender arrangements with the mainland.
They said there is no "loophole" in the existing legislation, despite the government's repeated claim to the contrary.
The statement goes on to say that the authorities have failed to explain in what way the circumstances have changed to justify the proposed legal amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, adding that officials are misleading the public by suggesting that the rights of suspects will be protected by human rights and procedural safeguards.
It said these reassurances are irrelevant to the crucial question of whether people's fundamental rights can be protected outside of Hong Kong after they have been surrendered.
The statement added that the administration’s recent decision to exempt nine types of offences from the legislation not only fails to address people’s concerns about extraditing people to the mainland, but also demonstrates that those concerns are indeed justified.