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Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group on the Suspension of the Extradition Bill
- On 3 April, the Hong Kong SAR Government (the “SAR Government”) tabled a bill (the “Bill”) to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525).
- In a stunning U-turn, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced at a press conference on 15 June that the Bill would be suspended, without specifying when the legislative process would resume.
- Suspension of the Bill came after a series of mass protests, including one on 9 June attended by more than a million participants, according to organizers of that march.
- The so-called “Million Person March” was followed by violent clashes on 12 June between protesters and police in the area around the Legislative Council Complex, which resulted in at least 59 civilians and 22 police officers injured. During the confrontation, the police deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds on unarmed protesters and journalists.
- Hours after the 15 June press conference, an anti-extradition protester standing on a scaffolding outside a shopping mall in Admiralty fell to his death.
- The PLG strongly condemns the SAR Government for disregarding the chorus of opposing views against the Bill expressed by legal professionals, journalists, business owners and other stakeholders during the past months, both in Hong Kong and overseas.
- We believe that all the injuries, disruptions to society and the tragic death of a protester could have been avoided had the SAR Government heeded these views and withdrawn the Bill, which can be done with relative ease. As such, we hold the SAR Government accountable for the turn of events over the past weeks.
- The SAR Government’s pretext to push the ill-conceived Bill through the legislature was to bring the suspect in the Taiwan murder to justice. It remains uncontroversial to address the Taiwan murder bilaterally with the Taiwanese authorities. However, the SAR Government has now suspended the Bill without proposing an alternative. This highlights the hypocrisy of the SAR Government, which has no qualms in using a tragedy to further its own political agenda, and when that agenda fails, walks away from the very people that it had claimed to assist.
- Finally, suspension of the Bill cannot remove the threat of extradition looming over Hong Kong. An estimated “two million and one” protesters took to the streets yesterday to demand the Bill be withdrawn completely, to air their anger and frustration towards the police’s excessive use of force and the characterization of the 12 June protests as a riot, and to mourn the death of the Admiralty protester.
- In light of the foregoing, the PLG demands that:
- the SAR Government propose a separate arrangement, with Taiwan only, to allow the suspect in the Taiwan murder to be sent to Taiwan to stand trial;
- an independent committee be set up by the SAR Government to investigate the deployment of excessive police force during the 12 June clashes, review the current guidelines on the use of force by law enforcement, and publish a report covering these subject matters and submit it to the relevant human rights bodies in the United Nations;
- Chief Executive Ms. Carrie Lam, Secretary for Security Mr. John Lee, Secretary for Justice Ms. Teresa Cheng and Commissioner of Police Mr. Stephen Lo to step down from their respective offices immediately;
- the Chief Executive and the Commissioner of Police retract their respective statements characterizing the protests on 12 June as a riot; and
- the Bill be completely and immediately withdrawn from the Legislative Council.
- The PLG also notes that prosecutions of protestors, particularly those who participated in the protests peacefully, may be perceived domestically and internationally as a form of political persecution, and cast doubt on the integrity of Hong Kong’s legal system and the independence of prosecutorial decisions.
- The PLG shall continue to work together with civil society in Hong Kong and stand in solidarity against growing incursions into the city’s civil liberties and preserve Hong Kong’s status as a free society and international financial hub.
The Progressive Lawyers Group
17 June 2019
 See Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council, Rule 64
 In commemoration of the protester who fell from a height and passed away on 15 June