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In a tragic series of events, a Hong Kong teenager is suspected of murdering his girlfriend while they were on vacation in Taiwan in February 2018. The only charges faced by the suspect thus far upon his arrest in Hong Kong are two counts of theft and one count of handling stolen goods for withdrawing his girlfriend’s money by using her debit card in Hong Kong. There is no indication as to whether the suspect will be transferred to Taiwan for questioning or trial. This raises grave concerns that the suspect may be able to escape from murder charges under the existing legal framework in the absence of Hong Kong’s lack of a formal extradition agreement with Taiwan.

Extradition, or the surrender of fugitives, is the formal surrender of an individual accused or convicted of committing a serious criminal offence in a foreign jurisdiction to that jurisdiction so that they are tried and punished by their laws. In Hong Kong, section 4 of Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap 503) confers to the HKSAR Government a power to arrest and surrender a person to a prescribed place if the person is wanted for prosecution, or for the imposition or enforcement of a sentence. This power however, is predicated upon reciprocal arrangements made between the HKSAR and the foreign jurisdiction for the surrender of fugitive offenders. In the absence of any extradition arrangements with Taiwan, this tragic incident raises grave concerns that the suspect may be able to escape from serious criminal charges under the existing legal framework. The potential exploitation of Hong Kong’s lack of a formal extradition agreement with foreign jurisdictions illustrates an urgent need for legal reform to put in place more effective measures against cross-border crime.

For more information on the topic of extradition, please see:

Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong on Foreign Relations

Criminal Procedure: Trial on Indictment

Criminal Evidence in Hong Kong

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