Facts about Hong Kong's extradition bill

A protester covers her face with a mask during a general strike at Tamar Park in front of the government buildings in Hong Kong, China September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

(Reuters) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is due to announce on Wednesday the formal withdrawal of an extradition bill that triggered months of unrest and has thrown the Chinese-controlled city into its worst crisis in decades, a government source said.

Here are some facts about the extradition bill:

- The law, which would cover Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents as well as foreign and Chinese nationals in the city, would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for the first time, for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

- Opponents of the bill saw it as a threat to the rule of law in the former British colony, putting people at the mercy of China’s justice system, which rights groups say is plagued by torture, forced confessions and arbitrary detentions.

- Hong Kong’s leader would have initiated and finally approved an extradition following a request from a foreign jurisdiction. A city judge would also have had to approve or reject such a request, though the scope to consider evidence or the “quality of justice” that a fugitive would face once surrendered to the requesting jurisdiction would be limited. The bill would have also removed oversight of extradition arrangements by the city’s Legislative Council.

- If the extradition bill had become law, it would have been possible for mainland Chinese courts to request Hong Kong courts to freeze and confiscate assets related to crimes committed on the mainland, beyond an existing provision covering the proceeds of drug offences.

- Hong Kong officials had raised the need for the extradition bill following the murder last year of a Hong Kong woman on holiday in Taiwan. Police say her boyfriend confessed to the crime on his return to Hong Kong. Taiwan authorities had strongly opposed the bill, which they said could leave Taiwan citizens exposed in Hong Kong and had vowed to refuse to take back the murder suspect if the bill were to be passed.

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel