Warning over fugitive transfers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2001, 12:00am

Lawmakers have warned the Government not to give concessions to the mainland when negotiating the transfer of fugitives.

At present, Hong Kong has rendition agreements with more than 10 countries, with principles for transferring fugitives laid down in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

Under the ordinance, the Government should refuse to surrender fugitives to countries seeking their return if they are escaping political prosecution or might be unfairly treated because of race, religion, nationality or political opinions.

The ordinance does not cover offenders who might be punished with the death penalty by countries seeking their return. However, the Government is bound by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which opposes the death penalty.

Beijing has signed rendition pacts with 10 countries. Recent research by the Legco secretariat found that Beijing upholds the principle that it will not surrender offenders who have already sought political asylum. But it does not have an agreement over the transfer of offenders who could face the death sentence.

Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, a member of the Legco security panel, said the Government should not alter its current practice when discussing a rendition agreement with Beijing. He urged the administration not to transfer fugitives wanted because of their political beliefs or who might face the death penalty.

'The uniqueness of Hong Kong is upholding the principle of human rights,' he said.

'It would be the end of Hong Kong if we made a concession over this principle.'