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Hong Kong extradition protests: Government to delay bill, reports say

People attend a rally in support of demonstrators protesting against the proposed extradition bill with China, in Hong Kong

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Reuters

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Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the plans

The Hong Kong government is set to delay a highly controversial plan to allow extraditions to mainland China, local media report.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to scrap the bill, but in recent days a number of advisers have urged her to suspend it.

Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the bill and further demonstrations are planned for Sunday.

Ms Lam is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

The government has argued the proposed extradition bill will “plug the loopholes” so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals.

But critics say it would expose people in Hong Kong to China’s deeply flawed justice system and lead to further erosion of the city’s judicial independence.

Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.

What are the controversial changes?

The changes would allow for criminal extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau – decided on a case-by-case basis by Hong Kong courts.

It comes after a high-profile case where a Hong Kong man was accused of murdering his girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan but could not be extradited.

Hong Kong officials, including Ms Lam, say the bill is necessary to protect the city against criminals.

Media captionHong Kong protesters force way into government building

But many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state.

Opposition activists also cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in mainland China.

How did protests unfold?

A large-scale march, which organisers said drew more than one million people, was held last Sunday.

Then on Wednesday tens of thousands gathered to blockade streets around government headquarters to try to stop the second reading, or debate, of the extradition bill.

Tensions boiled over and 22 police and 60 protesters were injured. Authorities say 11 people were arrested.

The police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets, have been accused of excessive force by some rights groups.

Media captionPolice use tear gas on protesters

Ms Lam has not spoken publicly since Wednesday when in a tearful address, she labelled the protests “organised riots”

Activists are planning further demonstrations this weekend.

Why are people angry about the plan?

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until sovereignty was returned to China in 1997.

It is now part of China under a “one country, two systems” principle, which ensures that it keeps its own judicial independence, its own legislature and economic system.

But people in Hong Kong are worried that should the extradition bill pass, it would bring Hong Kong more decisively under China’s control.

Hong Kong officials have said its courts will have the final say whether to grant extradition requests.

Ms Lam’s government has also said suspects accused of political and religious crimes will not be extradited, insisting legally binding human rights safeguards will also be in place.

Hong Kong extradition protests: Government to delay bill, reports say

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