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Thousands of Hong Kong lawyers march against China extradition plans

Friday, June 07, 2019

Hong Kong: Thousands of black-clad Hong Kong lawyers took to the streets yesterday in a silent march against a controversial extradition law proposal, as the city's last colonial governor slammed the plan as "a terrible blow".

The city's pro-Beijing government is pushing a bill through the legislature that would allow extraditions to any jurisdiction with which it doesn't already have a treaty -- including mainland China for the first time.

The proposal has sparked some of the biggest protests the city has seen in recent years as well as criticism from influential legal groups, business associations and western diplomats.

This week has seen escalating criticism from the city's influential legal communities, including the Law Society -- which published a detailed critique of the proposals -- adding to opposition already voiced by the Bar Association and multiple chambers of commerce. Critics fear the law, if passed, will entangle people in China's opaque and politicised court system.

The lawyers, mostly dressed in black, walked in silence from the Court of Final Appeal to the government headquarters, where they gathered to observe three minutes of silence.

Organisers said around 2,500 to 3,000 people attended the march.

"As you can all see that they come out for one reason and one reason only, because they see there is a threat to the rule of law in Hong Kong," said lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who organised the march. "This extradition bill, if passed, would do irreparable damage to our legal system, to the rule of law, to the values that we treasure." Legal professionals have gathered to protest only five times since the former British colony was handed to China.

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