Parliament to look at two treaties with Hong Kong

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will hold an inquiry into the suspension of the extradition treaty and the mutual legal assistance treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.

Australia is proposing to take action to suspend the Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons between the Government of Australia and the Government of Hong Kong (the extradition treaty), whilst the Agreement between the Government of Hong Kong and the Government of Australia Concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (the mutual legal assistance treaty) will be suspended by mutual consent.

In announcing the inquiry, Chair of the Committee, Dave Sharma MP said, “Clearly the political situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated markedly in recent months, with Hong Kong’s autonomous status under threat.

"The imposition by China of its National Security Law on Hong Kong has altered the legal landscape in Hong Kong and raised serious concerns about the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary and the rule of law. In such circumstances, it is only prudent to take steps to protect the integrity of our extradition and mutual legal assistance frameworks.”

Deputy Chair of the Committee, Peter Khalil MP said: “Following passage of the national security laws which eroded Hong Kong’s independent legal status, there were calls for the urgent review of Australia’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

"The Opposition welcomed the Government’s subsequent decision to suspend this treaty on substantive grounds. This inquiry is necessary given the need to ensure the functioning and integrity of Australia’s international law enforcement cooperation and our extradition frameworks.”

The Committee has agreed to the Attorney-General’s request to consider these matters as soon as possible, so they can be reported to Parliament in early October.

The Committee is aware that these issues have been of interest to many in the community in recent months, and public comment is encouraged. The Committee is seeking written submissions by no later than Tuesday, September 22.

The Committee will also hold a roundtable discussion (by teleconference) on Thursday, September 24. Interested participants should contact the secretariat by Monday, September 21.

Further information is available from the Committee website.


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