The government leader announced at a press conference on Saturday that the unpopular bill would be suspended, saying she wanted to restore public order following a week of violent demonstrations.
Critics of the extradition bill, which covers Hong Kong’s seven million residents, foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling in the city, claimed it threatened the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong’s international status.
Around a million people, according to protest organisers, marched through Hong Kong last Sunday to oppose the bill. Protests that continued through the week were met with tear gas, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets from police, piling heavy pressure on Ms Lam to change course.
Ms Lam said the city’s legislature would stop all work on the bill and next steps would be decided after consultations with various parties, she said.
Government support for the extradition bill began to waver on Friday with several pro-Beijing politicians and a senior advisor to Ms Lam saying discussion of the bill should be shelved for the time being.
The territory’s chief executive had claimed the extradition law was necessary to prevent criminals using Hong Kong as a place to hide and that human rights would still be protected by the city’s court, which will decide on the extraditions on a case-by-case basis.
Backing down from efforts to drive the bill through the city’s legislature appeared unthinkable only last week as Ms Lam remained defiant about the law’s passage.