See More on Facebook

Current affairs, Diplomacy

Hong Kong lawyers hold silent march in protest against extradition Bill

The bill will allow extraditions to China.


Written by

Updated: June 7, 2019

With less than a week to go before the divisive extradition Bill goes through a second reading,the pressure on the Hong Kong government to drop the proposed legislation has mounted, with the city’s lawyers marching on Thursday (June 6) in a silent protest.

Almost 3,000 lawyers, all dressed in black, gathered at the Court of Final Appeal for their silent protest – the fifth and biggest of its kind by the city’s legal community since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

At the government headquarters in Admiralty, Mr Dennis Kwok, the lawmaker representing the legal sector, urged the government to withdraw the Bill immediately.

The much debated Bill will allow Hong Kong to hand over fugitives to various jurisdictions, such as Taiwan and, more importantly, mainland China.

On June 12, the government will table the extradition Bill at a full Legislative Council meeting as it seeks a quick passage of the Bill with the backing of pro-establishment lawmakers.

The move follows the government’s decision to further scale back proposed changes floated in February, in a bid to garner the support of an uneasy business community and pro-Beijing lawmakers.

Last Thursday (May 30), the government said it would allow suspects or fugitives to be extradited if their offence is punishable by seven years’ jail instead of three years’ jail, which was already a departure from the one year stated previously.

The government also said that it would accept and process transfer requests made by only the top judicial authorities of other jurisdictions and not those from provincial authorities.

But many in the political, business, legal and media sectors are still worried about a fugitive’s right to a fair trial and fear that the changes will be used by the Chinese mainland authorities for political persecution – something the Hong Kong government has insisted will not happen.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam previously explained that the proposal will plug an existing loophole in the law and that the amendments “are intended to pursue judicial justice in criminal cases and also to protect the public” so that Hong Kong is not a safe haven for dangerous fugitives. It is a point that Beijing officials have echoed.

The idea for changes to the extradition Bill was floated after a Hong Kong resident, Chan Tong-kai, confessed to killing his girlfriend in Taiwan last year.

The confession came after Chan returned to Hong Kong, which does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Instead, he was jailed in Hong Kong in April in connection with money-laundering charges. He can be released in October as he had been remanded in custody since his arrest in March last year.

The tweaked proposed Bill was welcomed by influential local bodies, including the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong.

Late last month, the deputy commissioner for the Chinese Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong, Mr Song Ruan, reassured Hong Kongers that they have nothing to fear as China “respects the jurisdiction” of the local government.

In a video interview released on Thursday, the city’s last British governor, Mr Chris Patten, urged the government not to go ahead with the proposed Bill as it is one that will “strike a terrible blow” against the rule of law, Hong Kong’s stability, security and position as a great international trading hub.

“What these proposals do is to remove the firewall between Hong Kong’s rule of law and the idea of law – which prevails in Communist China – an idea of law where there aren’t any independent courts, where the courts and the security services and the party’s rules… are rolled altogether,” Mr Patten said.

On Wednesday, the Law Society urged the government in a lengthy statement not to rush the introduction of the new legislation.

It called for a thorough review of the relevant laws and asked for additional safeguards such as letting a Hong Kong person accused of crime overseas to dispute and resist an extradition request.

Many in the legal profession worry that the judiciary will be put in a difficult position when handling cases pertaining to requests for transfer of fugitives to the mainland.

And opposition to the proposed Bill seems to have grown stronger with another rally planned for Sunday (June 9).

Lawmaker Claudia Mo told The Straits Times that she believes “momentum has certainly been gained in the past week”.

“Just look at the June 4 turnout… a large part of the massive turnout is a result of the very popular fear of the extradition Bill being passed and so the organisers are confident that we will reach (a crowd of) 300,000 and we hope that will prove to be a slap in the face for (Chief Executive) Carrie Lam,” the pro-democracy Legislative Council member said.

On Tuesday, some 180,000 people gathered at Victoria Park to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown on student protesters 30 years ago.

This Sunday’s event, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, a coalition of pro-democracy groups, will march from Causeway Bay to Admiralty.

The previous march against the Bill was held in late April and saw a turnout of 130,000 – the largest demonstration since the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

Student Amanda Lam, 22, said she missed the previous marches and will attend Sunday’s event.

“I’m joining the coming one because this might be the last time Hongkongers can be united for such a large-scaled protest for our home,” she added.

So far, a dozen protests, timed to coincide with the coalition’s rally, have been planned in cities such as London, New York and Berlin.

Asked how far Sunday’s rally will go in getting the government to bin the extradition Bill, Ms Mo said it is “realistically not hopeful”.

“So, you ask what’s the point in doing this? First of all, we still believe in miracles in politics. The thing is that you never say never. If you fight, you may not get it, but if you don’t, you definitely won’t get it,” she said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Current affairs, Diplomacy

Trump urges passage of defense bill with provision against troop drawdown in S. Korea

Trump has previously asked Korea to pay its fair share to keep US troops on the peninsula. US President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Congress to pass a defense bill containing a provision restricting the drawdown of American troops in South Korea. On Monday, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees agreed on the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense. According to the accompanying conference report, the new bill restricts the use of funds for removing troops from South Korea, an issue that has drawn intense scrutiny amid contentious cost-sharing negotiations between Seoul and Washington.


By The Korea Herald
December 12, 2019

Current affairs, Diplomacy

Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocidal intent on Rohingya

She urges world court to let Myanmar justice system work. Denying that Myanmar had genocidal intent in its treatment of the Rohingya people, its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday (Dec 11) urged the International Court of Justice in The Hague to let her country’s justice system run its course. “Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers who are accused of wrongdoing?” she asked at the world court, while presenting her opening statement on the second day of public hearings related to Gambia’s lawsuit alleging that Myanmar had breached the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Carefully avoiding the word “Rohingya”, Ms Suu Kyi said Gambia has given “an incomplete and misleading factual picture”. She referred in her half-


By The Straits Times
December 12, 2019

Current affairs, Diplomacy

Report: US officials lied about Afghanistan

Civilian, military officials misled public for nearly two decades about status of war, Washington Post review of documents finds. For nearly two decades, senior US civilian and military officials didn’t tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported on Monday after reviewing more than 2,000 pages of government documents. The officials made pronouncements they knew to be false and hid evidence that the war had become unwinnable, the newspaper said interviews with those officials show. John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to the Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to”. The newspaper said that two major claims in the documents are that US officials manipulated statistics to suggest to the American public that the war was being won and that successive


By China Daily
December 11, 2019

Current affairs, Diplomacy

Pompeo says US is hopeful N. Korea will refrain from nuclear, long-range missile tests

Both sides are hopeful of continued talks. The United States is hopeful North Korea will continue to refrain from nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday, after Pyongyang said it had conducted a “very important” test over the weekend. North Korea said the test occurred at its Dongchang-ri satellite launch site on Saturday, raising tensions ahead of a year-end deadline North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has imposed for the US to show flexibility in their negotiations on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. “Chairman Kim personally made the commitment to denuclearize, said there wouldn’t be long-range missile tests, nuclear tests,” Pompeo said at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the State Department.


By The Korea Herald
December 11, 2019

Current affairs, Diplomacy

Arguments strong enough to convince judges: expert

Myanmar at The Hague for genocide. The arguments presented by the Gambia’s lawyers at the top UN court yesterday were extremely strong and should convince the judges to issue “provisional measures” against Myanmar to stop genocide against the Rohingyas, said a legal expert. If the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issues such an order, Myanmar will be under real pressure as it is a binding one, said the expert. “It was truly convincing the way the lawyers, who are very reputed in their fields, presented their arguments at the top UN court in the Hague,” Ahmed Ziauddin, a genocide researcher based in Brussels, told this correspondent yesterday. “They made it very clear that provisional measures were urgent to protect the Rohingyas, and such measures won’t affect Myanmar as a state.” The ICJ is not a criminal court that can issue an arrest order against any individual. But


By Daily Star
December 11, 2019

Current affairs, Diplomacy

SAARC turns 35 but has very little to show for its age

The regional bloc of seven South Asian countries and Afghanistan has largely been held hostage to the rivalry between India and Pakistan, say analysts. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation might have turned 35 but its three-and-a-half decades of existence has largely failed to advance its own central tenet—regional cooperation. As SAARC marked its 35th anniversary with a flurry of congratulatory messages from heads of government, expressing their commitment to regional cooperation, many analysts and diplomats wonder if these promises will ever translate into action. The regional association has failed to hold its 19th summit, ever since 2016 when India sud


By The Kathmandu Post
December 9, 2019