The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Chinese: 2019年逃犯及刑事事宜相互法律協助法例（修訂）條例草案) was a proposed bill regarding extradition to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) in relation to special surrender arrangements and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) so that arrangements for mutual legal assistance can be made between Hong Kong and any place outside Hong Kong.
The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to establish a mechanism for transfers of fugitives not only for Taiwan, but also for Mainland China and Macau, which are currently excluded in the existing laws.
The introduction of the bill caused widespread criticism domestically and abroad from the legal profession, journalist organisations, business groups, and foreign governments fearing the erosion of Hong Kong’s legal system and its built-in safeguards, as well as damage to Hong Kong’s business climate. Largely, this fear is attributed to China’s newfound ability through this bill to arrest voices of political dissent in Hong Kong. There have been multiple protests against the bill in Hong Kong and other cities abroad.
On 9 June, protesters estimated to number from hundreds of thousands to more than a million marched in the streets and called for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down. On 15 June, Lam announced she would ‘suspend’ the proposed bill. Ongoing protests called for a complete withdrawal of the bill and subsequently the implementation of universal suffrage, which is promised in the Basic Law. On 4 September, after 13 weeks of protests, Lam officially promised to withdraw the bill upon the resumption of the legislative session from its summer recess. On 23 October John Lee Ka-chiu, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security, announced the government’s formal withdrawal of the bill.
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