- Hong Kong’s chief executive has suspended a contentious extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China. This decision was taken following a series of massive street protests.
- The changes made in the extradition bill would have allowed suspects accused of crimes such as murder and rape to be extradited to mainland China to face trial.
- The government had said that the extradition bill would plug loopholes that allow the city to be used by criminals.It has assured that courts in Hong Kong would make the final decision on extradition and individuals accused of political and religious offences would not be extradited.
- However,critics of the bill have said that the chief executive who is not elected but chosen by an election committee accountable to China would have the authority to decide any request on extradition.
- Hong Kong’s courts would have the opportunity to review any decision but they would not be allowed to inquire into the quality of justice the accused would receive or whether they were guilty of the alleged offence.
- Further,when the Hong Kong’s extradition agreements were finalised, mainland China and Taiwan were left out because those regions had fundamentally different criminal justice systems from that of the city.
- The relationship between China and Hong Kong is anything but smooth. When Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 by Britain both sides agreed that the city would remain a semi autonomous region under the Basic Law,its mini-Constitution for 50 years.
- The Basic Law provides people in Hong Kong more political freedoms than their counterparts in mainland China. There is a relatively free press, an unregulated Internet and a less-controlled judiciary in Hong Kong. Also,mainland authorities are not allowed to operate directly in Hong Kong.
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