Secretary for Security John Lee on Saturday blasted Canada for suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, accusing Ottawa of ‘riding roughshod’ over the rule of law.
Canada had on Friday announced it is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to concerns over the new national security law here.
It is also halting the export of sensitive military items to the territory, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the authorities are looking at 'additional measures' including those pertaining to immigration.
Lee told a radio programme Canada needs to give a detailed explanation of its extradition decision to the international community.
He said one or two fugitives are transferred between the two places every year – all pertaining to serious crimes.
But Lee said he ‘could understand’ if Canada was worried that its agents could face arrest.
Speaking on the same programme, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng also slammed the Canadian move, saying there is a ‘good chance’ that the decision violates international law.
Cheng said the suspension would strike a blow to the rule of law, and added that she was disappointed by, and regrets Ottawa’s decision.
She said if Ottawa was hoping to affect China’s national security, that is an attempt to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.
However, Democratic Party lawmaker James To says the suspension of the extradition agreement underlines how seriously the Canadian government takes the threat to Hong Kong’s judicial independence in the wake of the national security law.
To pointed out that the existing extradition agreement already contains many safeguards against, for example, political persecution, but apparently the Canadian authorities have concluded that even these aren’t adequate.
“The total suspension… is a very clear signal to Hong Kong government that our legal system – the independence of [our] judiciary – is voted upon with no confidence by at least one government, that is, the Canadian government. That is a very serious matter”, he said.
Canada 'riding roughshod' over rule of law: John Lee
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