Australia considers abandoning legal treaties with Hong Kong
Australia is set to consider abandoning the legal treaties between itself and Hong Kong as the ongoing tensions between the two continue to create a rift.
The joint standing committee on treaties will hold an inquiry into possible suspension of the extradition treaty and the mutual legal assistance treaty between itself and Hong Kong as the political situation “continues to deteriorate” in recent months.
The inquiry is set to examine whether an Agreement for the Surrender of Accused and Convicted Persons (extradition treaty) and the Mutual Legal Assistance in the Criminal Matters (the mutual legal assistance treaty) should be suspended by mutual consent.
Chair of the inquiry Dave Sharma MP said: “Clearly the political situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated markedly in recent months, with Hong Kong’s autonomous status still under threat. The imposition by China [with] the national security laws on Hong Kong has raised serious concern about the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary.”
Mr Sharma added that in such circumstances, “it is only prudent” that Australia should take the necessary steps to protect the integrity of the two treaties. The committee has agreed to the Attorney-General’s request to consider these matters as soon as it can so that their findings can be reported to Parliament in early October.
Deputy chair Peter Khalil 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 a decision to suspend this treaty on substantive grounds.”
“This inquiry is necessary given the need to ensure the functioning and integrity of the Australian international law enforcement cooperation and extradition frameworks.”