Law change opposers await response on White House petition

Top News | Phoenix Un 4 Jun 2019

The White House is expected to respond to the fugitive law amendment in Hong Kong after a petition on its website reached 100,000 signatures.

The petition called on the US government to voice its opposition to the amendment and review the existing extradition agreement with Hong Kong.

Set up on May 15 by netizens on the website "We The People," the petition reached the required threshold of 100,000 needed to prompt the White House to make an official response.

With the slogan "threat to personal safety and freedom," the petition said the fugitive law amendment would allow the mainland authorities to "arrest people in Hong Kong, or even confiscate their properties, through issuing extradition requests to the Hong Kong government."

The petition said the amendment would "remove the legislature's power to scrutinize such extradition arrangements, thereby centralizing the decision-making in the executive," and therefore urged the US government to voice opposition and renew the existing extradition agreement with Hong Kong.

Some Hongkongers also started a petition in 2014 for the Occupy Movement, urging then-US president Barack Obama to pressure China to keep the promise to grant Hongkongers genuine democracy.

When the petition reached 196,000 signatures, the White House responded that the "legitimacy of the chief executive will be greatly enhanced if the election provides the people of Hong Kong a genuine choice of candidates representative of the voters' will."

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council Panel on Security had another special meeting yesterday, as legislators slammed Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu for not writing human rights protection of fugitives into the bill.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said: "Aren't rights such as fair trials, human rights protection and access to lawyers universal values? Why can't these become clauses in the bill?"

Lee replied any human rights protection stated in the individual extradition agreements with the receiving jurisdictions would have binding power.

Legislator Dennis Kwok Wing-hang asked Lee if there is judicial independence in the mainland. Lee replied that "any legal problems of jurisdictions outside Hong Kong should be answered according to their own laws."

The Panel on Security will also have meetings today and tomorrow to discuss the fugitive law amendment.

The Chief Executive's Office replied to the legal sector members of the election committee that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will not be meeting with them to discuss the amendment.

Senior Counsel Edward Chan King-sang, who invited Lam for a meeting, said as there is no path to make the government speak if they do not want to, he will join the June 9 protest.

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