Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng has offered a “sincere apology” to all Hongkongers over the extradition bill row.
The legal amendments were proposed in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements – notably China. Lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.
“Regarding the controversies and disputes in society arising from the strife over the past few months, being a team member of the government, I offer my sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong. We promise to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticism and make improvements in serving the public,” Cheng wrote in the blog post.
“The Department of Justice will continue to maintain close contact with the legal sector to exchange views on matters of mutual concern. Since I took office as the Secretary for Justice, I have put in arrangements of regular meetings with the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association to enhance our communications with the legal sector.”
Protesters were gathering outside Admiralty on Friday, as the government had not responded to their demands by a Thursday deadline.
Cheng’s apology also came weeks after around 3,000 members of the legal profession marched in black to protest against the extradition bill. The government did not accept their advice on the bill before the mass protests.
Cheng added that she frequently met with legal practitioners and professionals from the arbitration and mediation sectors “to explore ways to uphold our rule of law and consolidate Hong Kong as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services.”
“Last but not the least, the government has learned a hard lesson, but we remain hopeful that the experience gained will help us work better to meet the public’s expectations in future,” Cheng wrote.
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