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Letter to Hong Kong's Carrie Lam: Government Should Postpone Vote on Extradition Amendments
The Honorable Carrie Lam
Office of the Chief Executive
Dear Chief Executive Lam,
As president of Freedom House, I am writing to urge you to postpone the vote and extend the consultation period for the proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. We understand that the Hong Kong government intends to put these amendments before the Legislative Council for voting on April 3.
While we are pleased to see that the scope of the crimes covered has been narrowed compared with the original proposal, we remain extremely concerned over the lack of human rights safeguards in the current draft and the potential dangers it poses to Hong Kong residents.
- The lack of rule of law in mainland China and the widespread abuse of prisoners places any Hong Kong resident who is extradited to the mainland at serious risk of due process violations and other infringements on their basic human rights.
- This risk is amplified in the case of journalists, political activists, religious believers, and critics of the Chinese Communist Party who are largely able to exercise their rights in Hong Kong but whose activities are deemed criminal in China.
- Even if explicitly political crimes are excluded from the agreement, the Chinese government has been known to punish journalists and other activists based on trumped-up charges, such as fraud, that are also offenses in Hong Kong and would fall within the ambit of the amended ordinance.
Given the profound implications of these amendments for human rights, the rule of law, and Hong Kong’s unique position as a center for international commerce, we urge you to allow sufficient time for adequate consideration of alternative proposals that have been put forth by local civil society groups, legal professional organizations, and private sector actors. These groups have offered their expertise to help inform Hong Kong government policy and resolve loopholes in the current extradition rules.
Freedom House has documented a decline in the protection of human rights, freedom of expression, and the rule of law in Hong Kong over the past decade. The decline has already harmed Hong Kong’s international reputation and ability to serve as a regional hub for civil society, media companies, and other businesses.
Passage of the extradition amendments in their current form will accelerate this deterioration and its negative impact on the city, its residents and visitors, and its capacity to continue to serve as a center for international business.
I appreciate your serious attention to this matter and look forward to your response.
Michael J. Abramowitz
Cc John Lee Ka-chiu, Secretary for Security