HONG KONG – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday a highly controversial extradition bill will proceed to the legislature for debate after the territory’s largest protests in at least a decade filled the streets to oppose the legislation.
In the protest that reflected the semi-autonomous territory’s growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets Sunday to protest the bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
The full legislature is scheduled to resume debate on the amendments on Wednesday, and a vote is expected this month. The government has considered concerns from the private sector and altered the bill to improve human rights safeguards, Lam said.
Speaking to reporters before a regular meeting of her cabinet, Lam emphasized that extradition cases would be decided by Hong Kong courts — not the chief executive.
“Even the chief executive could not overrule the court, to say that because (a country) wants this offender, I will surrender,” Lam said, adding that such a scenario would be impossible, because Hong Kong’s chief executive is not above the law.