Hong Kong residents could be extradited to Macau under an upcoming extradition treaty between the two Special Administrative Regions, should they be suspected of exposing state secrets.

Jason Chao Teng-hei, vice-president of the pro-democracy New Macau Association, said that if double criminality rules were not observed, Hong Kong residents may be extradited to Macau for offences related to exposing state secrets. The equivalent of the Macau Lei relative à defesa da segurança do Estado—commonly known as the National Security Law or Article 23 — has still not been implemented in Hong Kong.

Double criminality is an extradition principle observed in various countries whereby a suspect can only be extradited from one country to another to stand trial, if they have broken a law that exists in both countries.

Jason Chao Teng-hei of New Macau Association. Photo: Facebook/New Macau Association.

Chao added that “the crime of ‘exposing state secrets’ in Macau’s National Security Law could be abused to suppress freedom of speech because the definition of the crime is totally controlled by the Chinese central government. And it is not news that the central government declares certain information as ‘state secrets’ according to their own will.”

He urged the Hong Kong and Macau governments to disclose the details of the extradition treaty before it is signed into law.

Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The National Security Law was passed in Macau in 2009.

In 2003, half a million Hongkongers took to streets in protest against the legislation – the bill was eventually withdrawn and no extradition treaty was signed between the SARs.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.