A session Saturday in Hong Kong’s legislative assembly about a controversial extradition law ended in a brawl between lawmakers, with one member of the assembly hospitalized.
Neither the pro-democracy lawmakers nor the pro-Beijing politicians are budging from their disapproval or support of the proposed law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite people to other jurisdictions where it lacks a permanent extradition agreement, including China and Taiwan, on a case by case basis. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that such changes would close legal “loopholes.”
It follows a high profile murder case last year where a Hong Kong man murdered his pregnant girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan, where the autonomous Chinese city also lacks a long term extradition agreement. The government has said speed is necessary as the murder suspect, who is serving a prison sentence on related money laundering charges, could be released as early as October.
Taiwan officials have said they would not seek the Hong Kong man’s return, even if the law is approved.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong last month to show their disapproval for the extradition bill.
The International Chamber of Commerce sent a scathing letter to lawmakers Wednesday questioning why Hong Kong is fast-tracking such significant changes to its legal system with limited public consultation – calling the move “most unbecoming in terms of public governance.”
The ICC’s letter follows similar concerns echoed by the European Union, the American Chamber of Commerce, the Hong Kong Bar Association and US Consul General Kurt Tong.
The bill was introduced in April and is set to be voted on in July by Hong Kong’s semi-democratic legislature, in which the majority is held by pro-establishment legislators.
Hong Kong, an autonomous special administrative region until 2047, has a dramatically different legal system from the mainland due to its former status as a British colony. Its strong rule of law has led dozens of multinational firms to make the city their Asia headquarters, although the ICC said that could change if the extradition law is put in place.