UK indefinitely suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong

Felicity Salina, International Law Officer

25 Jul 2020

The UK announced on Monday 20 July that it will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong “immediately and indefinitely”. The action, announced by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raqaab before the House of Commons, was prompted by the imposition of the new security law on Hong Kong by mainland China.

The UK asserts that the law, which empowers Beijing to directly intervene in the Hong Kong’s criminal justice system, constitutes a “serious violation” of China’s international obligations. Despite endeavoring to have “a positive relationship” with China, the UK believes that the move is a both a proportionate and necessary response to China’s decision.

The extradition treaty enables British authorities to request Hong Kong to hand over persons suspected of a crime in the UK, and vice versa. The agreement, having been in place for over 30 years, is feared to enable the new security law further, as those extradited to Hong Kong could be at risk of being transferred to mainland China for prosecution.

Mr Raqaab also announced that the UK will extend its arms embargo on China. “There will be no exports from the UK to Hong Kong of potentially lethal weapons, their components of ammunition, not already banned, which might be used for internal repression,” he emphasized.

China has retorted that the UK is engaging in “brutal meddling” in its internal affairs. It promised to seek out a “resolute response” should the UK move forward with its plan to suspend or otherwise withdraw the extradition treaty.