The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) has written a letter to the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, to outline its concerns about the controversial Beijing-backed China extradition law.

In its letter, the HKBA, the professional regulatory body for barristers in Hong Kong, outlined a judgment issued by the New Zealand Court of Appeal that declined to extradite a fugitive to mainland China over torture concerns.

While New Zealand had originally agreed to extradite Korean fugitive, Kyung Yup Kim, who is suspected of murder in mainland China, the Court of Appeal quashed this over concerns about China’s human rights records and legal processes.

As New Zealand is a common law jurisdiction, the ruling will be considered precedent for other common law jurisdictions that don’t have extradition agreements with mainland China – including Hong Kong.

The HKBA outlined the New Zealand court’s findings, which included statements that “torture is already against the law [yet], it persists in the Mainland,” that evidence obtained by torture is “frequently admitted in court,” and “the practice of torture in PRC is concealed, and its use is difficult to detect.” The association also outlined concerns about political influence in the criminal justice system.

“Finally, the massive turnout at the protest against the bill on Sunday 9 June 2019 is powerful testimony of the widespread and deep-seated public unease with the Bill. The HKBA therefore urges the Government to withdraw the bill for a full and proper consultation,” the letter, signed by chairman Philip Dykes concluded.

Hong Kong has been rocked by multiple large-scale protests in recent days. More than 3,000 lawyers gathered early this month to hold a rare silent protest in reaction to a controversial law. A subsequent weekend event drew a crowd of more than a million.

Despite the protests being largely peaceful, police have come under fire for resorting to violent methods as they attempt to disperse hundreds of thousands of protesters that demonstrated against the bill on Wednesday. Police use of tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray have been condemned by human rights bodies including Amnesty International.

 

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