The fugitive extradition bill between Macau SAR and Portugal was signed on Wednesday by the Secretary for Administration and Justice, Sonia Chan, during the sixth Macau-Portugal Joint Commission at the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Chan signed the agreement with Portugal’s Minister of Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, with the signing being described as a further step of cooperation in the area of justice.
However veteran lawyers in the SAR deemed the agreement impractical in the context of international extradition practice, as countries do not hand over their own nationals.
Chan had previously explained that the agreement would follow international directives that exclude extradition when the wanted person is in the territory where he or she is a national.
With such directives, fugitives of Portuguese nationality wanted by Macau authorities in Portugal will not be surrendered and vice-versa.
The agreement is one of the three agreements that has been signed as part of Chief Executive Chui Sai On’s delegation visit to Portugal.
According to the president of the Macau Lawyers Association, Neto Valente, the signing of the agreement should have been raised with the association.
“It is one of the issues where, according to the law, [there] should be consultation with the association because it has to do with rights, freedom or changes in criminal laws,” said Valente, as cited by TDM Radio.
Valente said on Wednesday that the association has no knowledge regarding the prepared bill and that no text of agreement was sent to the group.
Back in March, Chan had already revealed that an agreement between the two regions on the surrendering of fugitives wanted by either one of the two jurisdictions would be signed.
Meanwhile, an extradition agreement between Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and mainland China is also being discussed, sparking criticisms amongst opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong.
It is suggested that this proposal would be handled on a case-to-case basis with the need for the city’s Chief Executive to issue a certificate allowing the transfer.
It would also enable local courts to handle extradition requests without oversight from the legislature.
The proposed law has sparked protests, including one at which organizers believe that nearly 130,000 residents joined.
One of the main concerns of the pan-democrats and legal experts was the fear that Beijing may prosecute fugitives due to political reasons and that it may erode the region’s freedom. Democrats also deemed that the extradition plans may only harm the region’s judicial system.
Valente had also previously expressed concerns on the extradition negotiation between the SAR and Beijing, noting that it should meet minimum conditions to hand over the fugitives, and that it should not include politically motivated cases.
The Macau SAR currently has agreements for the transfer of convicted criminals with regions including Mongolia and Nigeria, while plans are already in place to develop similar agreements with Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.