Monday, 10 June 2019 14:55

Hong Kong extradition law to proceed despite more than a million protesting

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has vowed to push ahead with amendments to laws allowing suspects to be extradited to mainland China a day after the city's biggest protest since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
 
Riot police ringed Hong Kong's legislature and fought back a hardcore group of several hundred protesters who stayed behind early on Monday after Sunday's peaceful march that organisers said drew more than a million people, or one in seven of the city's people.
 
The protests plunged Hong Kong into political crisis, just as months of pro-democracy "Occupy" demonstrations did in 2014, heaping pressure on Lam's administration and her official backers in Beijing.
Chants echoed through the high-rise city streets on Sunday calling on her to quit.
 
The rendition bill has generated unusually broad opposition, from normally pro-establishment businesspeople and lawyers to students, pro-democracy figures and religious groups who fear further erosion of Hong Kong's legal autonomy and the difficulty of ensuring even basic judicial protections in mainland China.
 
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China under a "one country, two systems" formula with guarantees that its autonomy and freedoms, including an independent justice system, would be protected.
 
But many accuse China of extensive meddling in many sectors, denying democratic reforms and squeezing freedoms, interfering with local elections and the disappearances of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders.
 
All later appeared in detention in China, and some appeared in apparent forced confessions broadcast in Hong Kong.
 
An official newspaper in China, where the Communist Party holds sway over the courts, said "foreign forces" were trying to hurt China by creating chaos in Hong Kong.
It added the bill was a reasonable piece of legislation that would "strengthen Hong Kong's rule of law and deliver justice".
 
"Unfortunately, some Hong Kong residents have been hoodwinked by the opposition camp and their foreign allies into supporting the anti-extradition campaign."
 
The proposed changes provide for case-by-case extraditions to jurisdictions, including mainland China, beyond the 20 states with which Hong Kong already has treaties.
 
It gives the chief executive power to approve an extradition after it has been cleared by Hong Kong's courts and appeal system.
 
Guards removed damaged barricades from the front of the Legislative Council building during Monday's morning rush hour and cleaning staff washed away protest debris.
 
All but one protester had been cleared from the area, with residents back to work as normal.
 
Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao said in an editorial the government should take the protesters seriously and that pushing the legislation forward would exacerbate tensions.
 
AAP 
 
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