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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Hong Kong Diocese urges city not to rush bill on extradition to China

The Diocese of Hong Kong has made a rare foray into politics, issuing a statement urging the city’s government to “not to rush to amend” the city’s controversial extradition treaty.

The 11th June statement came amid continuing street protests, which on 12th June were broken up by police using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.

Afterward, the diocese issued a second statement, noting the dispute over the legislation “has now come to a violence and bloodshed stage. Therefore, once more we make an urgent appeal, that the SAR government and the general public exercise restraint and seek a solution to the current dilemma through peaceful, rational channels.”

The extradition legislation, officially called the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, would see mainland China have extradition rights for the first time over any city resident, including foreign nationals as well as tourists, thus submitting residents to China’s notoriously opaque and politically driven legal systems.

Church leaders have noted this would involve Catholics and other Christians involved in ministry on the mainland subject to rendition to the mainland for questioning or trial. Lawyers, social justice groups and students and regular Hong Kong citizens have criticised the legislation.

Picture: Police officers in Hong Kong fire tear gas on 12th June 2019, during a demonstration against a proposed Chinese extradition bill. The Diocese of Hong Kong issued a statement on 11th June urging the city’s government “not to rush to amend” its controversial extradition treaty. (CNS photo/Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters).