Breaking: UK Government raises concerns about extradition law as UK MPs blast plans

In a 27 March letter to the last Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten of Barnes, which was shared this week with Hong Kong Watch, the UK Foreign Secretary expressed concerns about Hong Kong's proposed amendments to extradition legislation. 

Separately, 13 UK MPs have also signed a Parliamentary motion urging the UK government to consider whether proposed amendments to the Hong Kong extradition law has implications for UK-Hong Kong extradition arrangements. This follows the publication of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report which said that Hong Kong resembles "one country, one and a half systems." 

UK government concerns

In his letter to Lord Patten, the UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP said: 

"British Consul General, Andrew Heyn, has formally lodged our initial concerns with the Hong Kong SAR government, including the minister responsible for the proposed reforms, the Security Secretary John Lee. We have also raised concerns with the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development. The Consul General has been in regular contact with the British Chamber of Commerce to ensure that their views are properly represented."

He continued: 

"We have made it clear to the Chinese and Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions that it is vital that Hong Kong enjoys, and is seen to enjoy, the full measure of its high degree of autonomy and rule of law as set out in the Joint Declaration and enshrined in the Basic Law... I can assure you that I, and my department, will continue to closely monitor developments in Hong Kong." 

Finally he questioned the consultation process, saying:

"It is clear that the relatively short formal consultation process has not been sufficient to capture the wide ranging views on this important topic."

Parliamentary condemnation

In their joint Parliamentary motion, the cross-party group of 13 MPs said that they were concerned that the extradition law "could facilitate the extradition of pro-democracy activists, journalists, dissidents and foreign nationals including business leaders." 

They also note "that the American Chamber of Commerce has expressed grave concerns about the implications of the law for Hong Kong's status as an international financial hub", and they urged "the United Kingdom Government to raise the issue with the Government of Hong Kong and to consider whether these reforms have implications for the United Kingdom's existing extradition arrangements with Hong Kong."

The full text of the Early Day Motion, and list of signatories, can be found here:

Jeremy Hunt. Photo: Getty

Jeremy Hunt. Photo: Getty

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