|25th February 2019
Dear Members and Friends,
Extradition of HK Citizens to Mainland China
The HK Government is now proposing to amend the existing legislation in HK in order to pave way for an extradition treaty with Mainland China. This is indeed the most worrying challenge for “One Country, Two Systems” since 1997. Once this amendment is passed, it means HK citizens could be extradited to Mainland to face trial in respect of a broad range of criminal offences. And it also gives new powers to the Chief Executive without LegCo oversight.
This is a wake-up call for Hong Kong. I hope the legal profession and the Hong Kong People would stand together and oppose the proposed legislative changes. We bear the responsibility to explain the full implications of these proposals to the Hong Kong People. In particular, I will be speaking to different international Chambers of Commerce and Consul Generals on this matter, and what this means for HK as an international financial and business centre.
Increase in Duty Lawyer scheme fees by 50%
Since I took office 7 years ago, I have been repeatedly calling for a substantial increase in Duty Lawyer fees in order to reflect the reality of how much members of the legal profession should be paid fairly and equitably under the Duty Lawyer scheme. The Administration and LegCo have recently approved the following increases:
Increase Budget for the Department of Legal Aid
One of the chief problems faced by members who do legal aid work is the delay in payments and legal aid application approvals. I have worked with the Department of Legal Aid over the years with the hope to address these complaints. At the end of the day, our colleagues in the DLA need more resources and manpower to cope with their increasing workload. I have asked the Financial Secretary to substantially increase the annual budget for the DLA, and I expect this year’s budget to reflect this. I shall report further once the Budget for 2019-2020 is out.
Mr. Wang Quanzhang, one of the lawyers arrested in the 709 crackdown in 2015, was recently sentenced to four and half years in prison after spending 4 years in secret detention. The continued persecution of human rights lawyers by the Mainland Chinese government is totally unacceptable and outrageous. I call on the Hong Kong legal profession to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow lawyers in Mainland China who are simply doing their work as a lawyer should. Please support the work of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.
(For further information of the case of Wang Quanzhang, please refer to the website of China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group: https://bit.ly/2UnCUnG)