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THOUSANDS of protesters rallied in Hong Kong today demanding the special administrative region drop a proposed law that would allow the extradition of suspects to the rest of China on a case-by-case basis.
The demonstrations are also calling for the resignation of the territory’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Hong Kong authorities have paused implementation of the law because of the giant protests, which organisers say are opposed to any threat to the “one country, two systems” policy agreed when it was returned to China after 155 years of British rule. They say that the law would allow mainland authorities to target political opponents.
A key protest organiser is the Civil Human Rights Front, which lists the US National Endowment for Democracy-funded Hong Kong Human Rights Movement among its constituent organisations.
Currently, Hong Kong lacks an extradition arrangement with China, and authorities say this allows Chinese criminals to flee to the city and avoid justice. China Daily journalist Ian Goodrum argues that “there’s [currently] no legal way to prevent criminals in other parts of China from escaping charges by fleeing to Hong Kong. It would be like Louisiana — which, you’ll remember, has a unique justice system — refusing to send fugitives to Texas or California for crimes committed in those states.”
Hong Kong only has extradition arrangements with 20 states, not including the rest of China, its fellow special administrative region Macao or China’s breakaway Taiwan province. Supporters of the law such as Chinese commentator Zhong Xiangyu have pointed out that Taiwan is currently unable to bring to trial a Hong Kong citizen wanted for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend because of the lack of an extradition treaty.
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