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法政匯思就政府建議修訂引渡相關法例之聲明


1. 2019年2月12日,香港特別行政區政府(「特區政府」)保安局向立法會保安事務委員會提交修訂香港法例第503章《逃犯條例》以及第525章《刑事事宜相互法律協助條例》的建議(「該建議」)。

若該建議修訂獲通過,特區政府將能夠移交刑事案件的疑犯至尚未與香港簽訂正式雙邊引渡協議的司法管轄區(「非協議地區」),包括中國內地、台灣和澳門。

2. 在該建議下,移交逃犯到非協議地區將不受立法會的審視,而且行政長官能夠就個別情況予以單次許可。

3. 換言之,行政長官可發出證明書向法庭申請臨時拘捕令,授權拘捕任何身處香港的人士,如果法庭經聆訊批准引渡請求,該人士將被移交到提出請求的司法管轄區接受刑事審訊或繼續服刑。

保安局指出,該建議是回應2018年2月一宗兇殺案(「該兇殺案」),台灣當局無法起訴一名被指控於台北謀殺其女朋友及逃返香港的男子。

4. 法政匯思對該建議深感憂慮,因它威脅任何身處香港的人士的人身自由,且政府能採用更直接的措施(見下文第7段),把該兇殺案的犯案者繩之於法,故該建議是不必要的。

5. 若該建議獲通過,特區政府將能夠拘捕任何身處香港境內的人,包括香港居民、訪港及經港的旅客,並移交予非協議地區,而最令人憂慮的是,大部分引渡請求預料將會由中國大陸提出,行政長官難免因受壓而批核請求。

6. 受該建議威脅的不限於居於香港的社運人士及中國異見人士,更包括任何海外訪客,不論是商界人士、藝術家、學者或是異見人士。

上述人士將面臨因逃稅、經濟犯罪或其他含糊不清的控罪,而被移交到人權紀錄破敗且司法系統不透明的大陸當局的威脅。[1]

單是最近,不少異見人士和人權律師,因所謂的國家安全考量而在大陸被拘捕及監禁。更重要的是,引渡的威脅將會對香港的公民社會造成寒蟬效應,並進一步扼殺香港境內表達政治思想及評論的自由。

7. 法政匯思就有關該建議的一些誤解逐點反駁,以正視聽:

● 為該兇殺案的受害者及其家人伸張正義,該建議是必需的

特區政府只需要:(1) 根據現有法律尋求立法會的批准,或 (2) 修改《逃犯條例》和《刑事事宜相互法律協助條例》,允許香港和台灣之間引渡逃犯(甚至直接刪去兩項條例不適用於台灣的限制),便能將該兇殺案的犯案者歸案。這樣公義便能得到彰顯,而無需全盤更改現行法例,及引起上述第5和第6段的問題。

● 根據該建議,被要求引渡的人士可依賴香港法院為其把關

無疑所有引渡要求必須經過引渡聆訊。但是,一旦法院信納該案件有足夠的表面證據提出公訴,法院便會批准該要求。此舉證責任遠遠低於刑事定罪所要求的標準(證明無合理疑點)。而且香港法院沒有資源和管轄權去充分地審視該些事實證據,這意味著,只要中國大陸當局能向香港法院提供表面上可信的刑事罪行的證據,引渡請求便很可能會越過法院這道「最後以及唯一的防線」。

此外,若實行該建議,《逃犯條例》和《刑事事宜相互法律協助條例》中有關防止政治起訴的現有保障措施,可能無法充分保障個別人士免受經濟或其他看似非政治犯罪為由所提出的引渡請求。

● 為堵塞長久的跨境執法的漏洞,該建議是必需的

如上文所述,該兇殺案可以透過簡單修訂自回歸以來就實施的現行法例來處理。值得指出的是,引渡逃犯到中國大陸的議題,於1980年代中英談判時被特別討論。《逃犯條例》和《刑事事宜相互法律協助條例》的起草過程謹慎,以杜絕引渡逃犯到中國大陸,避免侵害人權問題。摒棄此立場,不僅會引起香港居民非必要的憂慮,更會令國際社會質疑香港作為一個相對不受大陸干預的國際城市的地位。

8. 法政匯思懇切地要求保安局撤回該建議,並收窄對現行法例的修訂範圍至允許引渡到台灣(或只需簡單地刪除《逃犯條例》和《刑事事宜相互法律協助條例》不適用於台灣的限制),讓該兇殺案的受害人及其家人尋求公義。

只有這樣才能維持回歸前精心構建的引渡框架之完整性及香港的國際形象,並緩和國際社會對香港居民的個人自由的關注。

此外,法政匯思呼籲民間公民社會把握為期20天的諮詢期,在3月4日前以書面形式,就該建議向特區政府提交意見。[2]

註釋:

[1]: 2011年,大陸藝術家艾未未因未經指明的「經濟犯罪」而被中國當局逮捕和拘留。單在上個月發生一宗涉及大陸明星干犯經濟犯罪,令中國法律制度的穩健程度再次受到質疑。

[2]: 電郵至[email protected]、或傳真至2524 3762,或郵寄至添美道2號政府總部東翼10樓保安局A組(參考保安局網頁

保安局局長李家超早前在立法會稱,移交逃犯不涉政治性質罪行,但民主派議員對此表示關注。資料圖片

Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group on the government's proposal to amend extradition laws 

1. On 12 February 2019, the Security Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR government submitted a proposal (the "Proposal") to the Legislative Council's (the "Legco") Panel on Security to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) ("FOO") and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) ("MLAO").

If adopted, the amendments will allow the SAR government to surrender suspects in criminal cases between Hong Kong and jurisdictions with which the SAR has not entered into a formal bilateral extradition agreement ("non-contracting jurisdictions"), including mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.

2. Under the Proposal, the surrender of fugitives to non-contracting jurisdictions will no longer require Legco scrutiny and may be approved by the Chief Executive on an one-off "case-based" approach.

3. In other words, the Chief Executive may issue a certificate for the purpose of applying for a provisional warrant, which will authorize the arrest of any person in Hong Kong and, if the extradition request is approved at a court hearing, the said person will be surrendered to the requesting jurisdiction to stand criminal trial or serve an outstanding sentence.

According to the Security Bureau, the Proposal is made in response to a homicide case in February 2018 (the "Homicide Case") in which Taiwanese authorities were unable to prosecute a Hong Kong man accused of murdering his girlfriend in Taipei and then fleeing to Hong Kong.

4. The PLG is deeply troubled by the Proposal, as it poses a risk to the liberty of anyone in Hong Kong and is unnecessary for the purposes of bringing to justice the perpetrator of the Homicide Case, for the SAR government has more direct means to do so (see paragraph 7 below).

5. If adopted, the Proposal will enable the SAR government to arrest and surrender anyone physically present in Hong Kong—both residents and travelers visiting or passing through the territory—to non-contracting jurisdictions, including, most disconcertingly, mainland China where in practice most extradition requests will likely originate and which the Chief Executive will be pressured into approving.

6. The Proposal may put at risk not only political activists and outspoken critics of the Chinese government who reside in Hong Kong, but also any overseas visitors, from business-people and artists to scholars and dissidents, who set foot in Hong Kong.

These individuals will be exposed to the threat of being handed to the authorities in mainland China, a jurisdiction with a tattered human rights record and an opaque judiciary system, for tax evasion, economic crimes, or other vague or dubious charge [1].

Only recently, a number of outspoken dissidents and human rights lawyers have been arrested and imprisoned on the mainland, ostensibly on national security grounds. What’s more, the threat of extradition itself will have a chilling effect on civil society in Hong Kong and further stifle the free expression of political thoughts and criticisms in the territory.

7. The PLG would like to debunk a number of common misconceptions surrounding the Proposal:

● The proposal is necessary to bring justice to the victim and her family in the Homicide Case

To bring to justice the perpetrator of the Homicide Case, the SAR government needs only to: (1) seek Legco approval under the existing law; or (2) amend the FOO and MLAO narrowly to allow extradition between Hong Kong and Taiwan (or by simply removing the restriction in the FOO and MLAO that the two statutes do not apply to Taiwan). The aim can be achieved without having sweeping changes made to existing legislation and engendering concerns outlined in paragraphs 5 and 6.

● Under the Proposal, subjects of extradition requests can rely on Hong Kong courts as a gatekeeper

It is true that all extradition requests must go through an extradition hearing. However, the court will grant such approval once it is satisfied that there is sufficient prima facie evidence to result in an indictment. This burden of proof is significantly lower than the standard required for a criminal conviction (proof beyond a reasonable doubt). That means an extradition request may easily get past this "last and the only line of defense" in Hong Kong, as long the Chinese authorities can present factual evidence of a crime which is superficially plausible to the Hong Kong court, which lacks the resources and jurisdiction to sufficiently scrutinise such evidence.

Furthermore, the existing safeguards in the FOO and the MLAO against political prosecution may not adequately protect individuals from extradition requests on the grounds of economic or other seemingly non-political crimes under the implementation of the Proposal.

● The Proposal is necessary to plug longstanding loopholes in cross-border law enforcement

As argued above, the Homicide Case can be addressed with minimal revisions to existing legislation that has been in place since the Handover. It is important to point out that fugitive extradition to mainland China was a topic specifically discussed during the Sino-British negotiation in the 1980s, and that both the FOO and the MLAO had been carefully drafted to preclude extradition to the People’s Republic of China to safeguard against human rights violation. Departing from such a settled position will unnecessarily raise concerns for not only Hong Kong residents but also put into question the status of Hong Kong as an international city relatively safe from mainland intervention.

8. The PLG earnestly asks the Security Bureau to withdraw the Proposal and narrow the scope of legislative amendment to allow for extradition to Taiwan (or by simply removing the restriction in the FOO and MLAO that the two ordinances do not apply to Taiwan), so that the victim and her family in the Homicide Case will see justice done.

This will allow our carefully constructed extradition framework and the territory’s image among the international community to be kept intact, and well-placed concerns over the personal liberty of Hong Kong residents to be allayed.

Furthermore, the PLG calls on members of civil society to speak up about their concerns over the Proposal and submit written responses to the SAR government within the 20-day consultation period expiring on 4 March [2].

[1]: In 2011, mainland artist Ai Weiwei was arrested and detained by Chinese authorities for unspecified "economic crimes." As recently as last month, a court case involving economic crimes allegedly committed by a mainland celebrity has again called into question the robustness of China's legal system. 

[2]: By email to [email protected], or fax to 2524 3762, or by mail to Security Bureau (A Division), 10/F, East Wing, Central Government Offices, 2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar


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