No Extradition of Injustice

Statement issued by Kowloon Union Church
June 14, 2019

 

As people of faith, we are distressed by the turmoil, division and violence in our society this week over the proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition law by the government. We call for calm in our community in the wake of violence between the police and protesters, most of whom are the youth and future of our city. While we cannot condone the use of violence to express one’s political views, we are incensed at the disproportionate and unprofessional vicious use of force by the police, using rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and batons to subdue young protesters.

As people of faith, we are called to uphold justice. A major concern of the government’s proposed extradition amendments, however, is the rendering of injustice, for a major difference between the two systems of Hong Kong and mainland China is the legal system. It is clear from the march of more than one million people on June 9 that there is a lack of trust in the legal system of mainland China—a system that is known more for ruleby law than rule of law in which unfair trials are systemic, court decisions are susceptible to political manipulation by the authorities, torture is used to extract confessions and politically motivated arrests are made under the pretext of ordinary crimes.  

We cannot accept the motivation and rationale by Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Hong Kong government officials that there is an urgent need to pass this legislation. Hong Kong has not been an international haven for criminals in the past nor is there any reason to believe that this reputation will be blemished in the future. Moreover, the Taiwanese government has made it clear that under the arrangements put forward by the Hong Kong government it will not seek the extradition of Chan Tong-kai, the man from Hong Kong who allegedly murdered his girlfriend last year in Taiwan that sparked the “need” for the proposed extradition amendments.  

In addition, we do not believe that there are adequate safeguards in the current extradition bill that will protect people from being sent to mainland China without due cause. The Legislative Council is not involved in the process, for instance, and the constitutional relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland makes it difficult for the chief executive to deny a request from the Chinese government as it appoints the chief executive, who is thus accountable to the Chinese government.  

Lastly, as is quite evident, there is no consensus in society on the proposed extradition bill. In the past, the government even failed to launch a consultation document because there was no consensus in society. How much more of a lack of consensus is there currently for, not a consultation document, but for proposed legislation!  

It is for the above reasons that we call upon the Hong Kong government to immediately delay passage of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill and to engage in consultations with the local legal profession and other members of society. The wounds of our society will not be healed by quickly enacting this unnecessary piece of legislation.

 

Kowloon Union Church