Thousands of people protested in Hong Kong over proposed extradition law changes

Vastavam web: Thousands of people protested in Hong Kong on Sunday against a government plan to change extradition laws, fearing an erosion of personal freedom and the city’s status as an international business hub. The Hong Kong government proposal, announced in February, would grant the city’s leader executive power to send fugitives to jurisdictions not covered by existing arrangements, including Mainland China and Taiwan.

The government said last week it will present the amendments to legislators on Wednesday. The planned changes have been strongly opposed by some lawmakers, legal and rights groups who fear that it could be exploited by Beijing’s Communist Party leaders and hurt Hong Kong’s judicial independence. Since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee that it would enjoy a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not allowed in mainland China, there has been no formal mechanism for the surrender of fugitives to mainland China.

“It is not an easy decision, but it is a cautious, careful, and serious decision,” he said, adding that the Hong Kong government “has the sole right to decide whether or not to process. But there is still a risk of rendition to jurisdictions that do not share Hong Kong’s level of “protections for the legitimate rights of defendants,” the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said.

“We strongly believe that the proposed arrangements will reduce the appeal of Hong Kong to international companies considering Hong Kong as a base for regional operations,” the chamber said in a statement on Friday.