The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the Law Society of England & Wales, the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Defence Extradition Lawyer’s Forum, the International Forum of Extradition Specialists,  and  Fair Trials  have co-authored observations on the human rights implications of Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019.

The observations come as a result of significant concern, both in Hong Kong and internationally, about the proposed amendments and the comparison being drawn between the amendments and other extradition laws internationally, particularly those in the United Kingdom, a comparison which the organisations consider to be a fundamental fallacy.

The observations state that the proposed amendments fail to adequately protect human rights and “fundamentally imperil the operation of the rule of law” because “insofar as the proposals would introduce any human rights examination at all, they are vested in Hong Kong’s Chief Executive whom, in view of her function and the nature of  her appointment, would lack or appear to lack the necessary impartiality and independence to adjudicate such issues.”

The organisations also raise serious concern over the “serious shortcomings” in the existing legislation that “expose inadequate protection for human rights” and fail to “carry the burden of introducing extradition arrangements with any state where serious human rights issues arise.” In particular, the organisations highlight the current scheme’s lack of authority for Hong Kong courts to refuse extradition on the grounds that extradition exposes the person to violation of the ICCPR or the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.

The organisations call upon the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to place the human rights implications of the legislation at the centre of their consideration and for the “immediate suspension of these ill-conceived proposals, pending (at a minimum) radical overhaul of Hong Kong’s existing extradition laws.”