German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced that Germany will be suspending an extradition agreement it had made with Hong Kong due to Hong Kong’s decision to disqualify elective candidates and postpone its 2020 Legislative Council General Election for a year.
Maas announced the suspension Friday, the same day that Hong Kong postponed its 2020 Legislative Council General Election, citing concerns over COVID-19. The government stated that, in light of the pandemic, it would be “difficult for the election to be a fair and open one. It may also undermine the safety of the voters, the candidates and their supporters as well as the polling staff. Therefore the HKSAR Government had to make the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the election.”
Maas called the disqualification and postponement of the elections a “further infringement of the rights of Hong Kong’s citizens.” Maas also cited Hong Kong’s “detention of four activists by the newly established National Security Department,” which Maas said “fills us with concern.”
Various other countries have similarly suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong recently, including Australia and the United Kingdom. China has retaliated against all of those countries by suspending the treaties on its own behalf.
The Hong Kong Bar Association responded negatively to the decision to postpone the election:
The HKBA expresses its grave concern in relation to the decision of the HKSAR Government to postpone the Legislative Council (“LegCo”) election, which was due to be held on 6 September 2020, for one year. […] The right to vote and to stand for election is guaranteed by Article 26 of the Basic Law and Article 21(b) of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. It is a vital constitutional right. […] The HKBA considers that there are serious doubts about the legal and evidential basis of the Government’s decision.
The government in return responded that “the health and well-being of all Hong Kong people is its overriding concern,” and it insisted in its initial statement that other countries, including the United Kingdom, have enacted similar postponements for elections in light of the pandemic.