International Law

Comparing Hong Kong’s extradition bill with other global, law-abiding agreements is deceptive

Will humans, please stop wheeling out the argument that Spain, France, and sundry different healthful and law-abiding international locations have extradition agreements with China, so we need to have one? This turned into presented in a playful spirit via Nury Vittachi in the Standard, and in full formal prison get dressed by Grenville Cross in China Daily. No doubt it has surfaced in different places. It is wrong as it overlooks some critical variations. If you’re the subject of a one-off bid via China to extradite you from the UK, the request is going to the Home Secretary first. This identity is a quaint historic survival – in other jurisdictions, the corresponding political individual may be the Minister for Justice or the Minister for the Interior.

Whatever you call them, the Home Secretary is a political figure who is answerable to Parliament for their movements. But, unlike the man or woman in Hong Kong who will try this, if the regulation passes, the Home Secretary does no longer make or three visits to Beijing each yr to file on his doings and get hold of commands. Nor does he or she have a China Liaison Office whispering in their ear and running their elbow.
Similarly, if the matter is surpassed to a court, the decision is in a rather exceptional function within the UK from that of his Hong Kong counterpart. Judicial independence isn’t always an on-off switch. It exists in varying ranges.

A UK judge, for whom the Chinese authorities are litigant and not using a way of creating them suffer if they displease it, will find it simpler to be impartial than a Hong Kong judge who, no matter how hard they are attempting, knows that in the view of mainland officials – and presumably of some Hong Kong ones – they’re part of the executive machinery and expected to be a crew player. I expect some Hong Kong judges privately think that this view of their functions is quite incorrect. Others, possibly, take a less sturdy view and try no longer to rock the proverbial boat.

Hong Kong

Mr. Cross points out that beyond extradition instances, China has always performed by the rules. But this does not help us at all. When dealing with unbiased nations just like the UK or France, China has every incentive to play with the aid of the regulations because any breach of them will bring about extradition becoming greater hard, or likely not possible. Even if destiny requests bypass the political hurdle, the proposed victim will argue in court docket that assurances about his or her remedy cannot be relied on and the extradition request should accordingly be rejected.

I fear that in Hong Kong, this important incentive is lacking. Hong Kong officers are extremely reluctant to criticize, or maybe understand, abuses of the regulation at the mainland. No doubt they could luckily wink at violations of the conditions attached to extradition orders. Judges might be less tolerant. But alternatively, they might not. People who have no longer been organized to turn a tactful blind eye might find their careers shorter than expected. Also deceptive is Mr. Cross’s old-fashioned assessment with the US, where also in America, the legal systems in different states are quite similar. This isn’t the case for us. Hong Kong has a prison device that conforms to global requirements. China does no longer.

Similarly, Hong Kong does now not have a separate political system from the Chinese one. On the contrary, it’s been made very clear that we’re inside the ultimate evaluation dominated via Beijing. This consequences a pretty comprehensible loss of self-assurance in the judgments made using ostensibly independent authority figures here. If the mainland police had been after you on some totally specious basis and implemented to your extradition, could you trust Carrie Lam to mention ‘no’? Of course, now not. Comparisons with true worldwide transactions of the identical kind are misleading and unhelpful.

Clarification 21/5: This piece becomes updated to clarify that extraditions between China and the United Kingdom are finished on a case-via-case foundation within the absence of a formal treaty. U. S. A .’s component states do mechanically extradite people to every different. If you are desired in California and flee to Nevada, the Californian government will ask to be dispatched again. But all over again, this is not like the state of affairs in Hong Kong at all. The Governor of Nevada is not appointed using the Californian government. Nevadan judges do now not must fear approximately whether or not their selections will be welcome in California.

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