Hong Kong Extradition Protests: Government to Delay Bill, Reports Say

Hong Kong Extradition Protests: Government to Delay Bill, Reports Say

The Hong Kong government is set to delay a highly controversial plan to permit extraditions to China, local media report.

Chief executive Carrie Lam has refused to scrap the bill, but in recent days a number of advisers have urged her to suspend it.

Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the bill and further demonstrations are planned for Sunday.

Ms. Lam is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

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The government has argued the proposed extradition bill will “plug the loopholes” so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals.

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But critics say it would expose people in Hong Kong to China’s deeply flawed justice system and lead to further erosion of the city’s judicial independence.

Hong Kong is a former British colony but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.

The changes would allow for criminal extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau – decided on a case-by-case basis by Hong Kong courts.

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It comes after a high-profile case where a Hong Kong man was accused of murdering his girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan but could not be extradited.

Hong Kong officials, including Ms. Lam, say the bill is necessary to protect the city against criminals.

But many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state.

Opposition activists also cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in mainland China.

A large-scale march, which organizers said drew more than one million people, was held last Sunday.

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Then on Wednesday tens of thousands gathered to blockade streets around government headquarters to try to stop the second reading, or debate, of the extradition bill.

Tensions boiled over and 22 police and 60 protesters were injured. Authorities say 11 people were arrested.

The police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets, have been accused of excessive force by some rights groups.

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