Hong Kong’s legislature has set a voting date on the controversial territory’s extradition law, to take place in June 20, as protests increased in opposition to the bill.
AP quoted Legislature President Andrew Leung saying today that he had accepted 153 out of 238 proposed amendments to the bills. He noted that there would be 66 hours for debate.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, the members of the legislative council will hold a second debate on the law which drew hundreds of thousands of people to the streets to protest against what they described as freedom violations.
The proposed bill would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
On Sunday, the largest demonstration in Hong Kong for more than a decade took place, reflecting pressing concerns about Beijing’s increasing control over the former British colony, which had been promised it would retain its own legal and social institutions for 50 years after its return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Opponents of the proposed extradition bill fear it would significantly compromise Hong Kong’s legal independence, long viewed as one of the main differences between the territory and mainland China.
On other hand, police deployed thousands of additional officers to keep order amid calls for protesters to begin gathering again Tuesday night. Some businesses announced plans to close on Wednesday, and there were scattered reports of students planning to boycott classes.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam emphasized that extradition cases would be decided by Hong Kong courts and neutral judges, saying that the law is important to further enhance the reputation of the territory and not to be seem as criminals heaven.
According to AP, Hong Kong currently limits extraditions to jurisdictions with which it has existing agreements and to others on an individual basis. China has been excluded from those agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.