A global coalition of legislators has launched a campaign to sever extradition treaties with Hong Kong, citing concerns over “severe compromise” of the city’s rule of law under the new Beijing-enforced national security law.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), comprised of 34 lawmakers from 16 countries and the European Parliament, announced on Sunday they are lobbying for governments to review their extradition agreements with the semi-autonomous city.
It came days after the enactment of new legislation criminalising secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong. The four offences are punishable by up to life imprisonment and non-Hong Kong residents can be prosecuted for acts committed outside of Hong Kong.
The group said members are “urgently” seeking assurances from their respective governments – including Australia, France, Germany, UK and the US – that no one will be transferred to Hong Kong to face criminal proceedings.
“The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China has committed to coordinating efforts to ensure that no one has to face extradition to Hong Kong, where the rule of law is severely compromised following the imposition of the so-called National Security Law,” the group wrote on its website.
The IPAC said their campaign has had some success, following Canada’s announcement last Friday to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in opposition of the new legislation.
The country’s Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne criticised the law as having been enacted under “secretive” circumstances in “disregard” for Hong Kong’s Basic Law and its promised high degree of autonomy.
Last June, large-scale protests erupted in the city over a now-axed extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitive transfers to mainland China. It later morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement, leading to sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour and Beijing’s encroachment.
Although there is no explicit reference to rendition to the mainland in the text of the national security law, critics have raised concerns about a provision which gives China jurisdiction over three types of “exceptional” cases.
They include cases involving a foreign country or “external elements,” “serious situations” in which the local government cannot effectively enforce the law, and when there is a “major and imminent” threat to national security.
Under those circumstances, China’s national security office in Hong Kong is authorised to initiate an investigation. China’s national prosecution body can name “relevant procuratorates” to conduct prosecutions, while the Supreme People’s Court shall designate a court to adjudicate the case.