US report says extradition bill threatens security

Local | 8 May 2019 12:24 pm

A report from a commission under the US Congress has warned that the proposed extradition law amendments will pose a threat to security and economic interest of the country and put at risk every US citizen in the SAR – including defence personnel visiting during navy port calls, RTHK reported. 

The report said "the proposed bill could create serious risks for US national security and economic interests in Hong Kong, and potentially violate several key provisions of the US-Hong Kong Policy Act". 

The report warned the US Congress that the passage of the bill would increase Hong Kong's susceptibility to what it called Beijing’s political coercion and further erode the the city’s autonomy. 

It said the "changes would undermine the strong legal protections guaranteed in Hong Kong and leave the territory exposed to Beijing’s weak legal system and politically motivated charges".

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the US Navy could consider alternative ports other than the SAR because the new laws would increase potential risks for military personnel to be renditioned.

The report said the passage of the bill may provide grounds for the US to re-examine important elements of its relationship with Hong Kong, arguing that the new laws could violate key provisions of the US-Hong Kong policy act. 

It noted the American President could suspend the application of any part of the Hong Kong Policy Act by "determining that Hong Kong is not sufficiently autonomous to justify treatment".

But the report stopped short of suggesting the president should suspend the act, only saying that the new laws would remove legal protections in Hong Kong that preserve its well-regarded rule of law and reputation as an international financial hub.

The report also argued that the bill could provide Beijing with a powerful legal tool to further intrude into Hong Kong affairs. 

It said the bill's passage would almost certainly make things harder for pro-democracy advocates and the business community, saying they're already worried about what it called Beijing’s illegal detention of Hong Kong and other foreign citizens.

The report said if the bill is passed, it "could affect the estimated 85,000 US citizens and over 1,300 US firms in Hong Kong – about 300 of which base their Asia regional operations in the territory".

The existing extradition treaty between the US and Hong Kong also need to be re-examined as the new law may be used to override the protections that are guaranteed under the pact, it said.

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