June 3, 2019
Re: An open letter to the Hong Kong Chief Executive – Extradition Law
Dear Chief Executive,
The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) would like to express its serious concerns in relation to planned extradition laws that are currently being debated and reviewed by Hong Kong’s legislators. The ‘Proposed Amendments’ to the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance and the Fugitive Offenders are of the utmost concern to our members.
Hong Kong’s hard-won reputation as ‘Asia’s World City’ is at risk. Many publishers and news businesses have chosen the city as a regional base thanks to Hong Kong’s historic commitment to the rule of law. Mainland China’s legal system has been used as a tool to intimidate and curtail journalistic practice and the free movement of information. We believe that the ‘Proposed Amendments’ would enable similar acts of intimidation to take place in Hong Kong, a place hitherto largely free of such damaging activity.
The view of SOPA members and its Board of Directors is that the due process given to consulting over this issue has not been wide or indeed long enough. We believe that the ‘Proposed Amendments’ will have a damaging effect on Hong Kong’s position as a global hub for news, publishing and information services. The potential consequences of rushing to pass the proposed legislative changes are deeply concerning. We respectfully request a slowing of the current process in order to undertake a more broad and substantial consultation.
SOPA represents many local, regional and international publishers that would welcome the opportunity to be further consulted on this matter. That membership group employs thousands of people in Hong Kong and is worth many millions of dollars to its economy. News, data and information have long powered Hong Kong’s world-leading business and financial services sector. Any attack on the ability of news and information providers to operate unencumbered would likely have a negative impact on the wider business ecosystem that has long made Hong Kong a unique and successful centre for trade and commerce
SOPA understands that the ‘Proposed Amendments’ are largely aimed at serious, violent alleged crimes. However, we respectfully remind the Hong Kong Government that the unintended consequences of deploying blunt legal instruments such as the ‘Proposed Amendments’ will have wide-reaching and long-term damaging effects to Hong Kong’s global standing.
We understand that members of your government team have been meeting with representatives of the legal, business and diplomatic sectors. In the spirit of timely consultation, SOPA and its Board of Directors would welcome an urgent meeting to discuss these concerns and potential solutions together with you or a member of your government.
The Board of The Society of Publishers in Asia: https://www.sopasia.com/about/board/
Cc: The Hon. John Lee, Secretary for Security