The recent deportation by Manila of 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China has led to calls on Taipei to reassess cross-strait relations, including next week’s visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).
While media attention has focused primarily on the unresolved diplomatic spat between Taiwan and the Philippines, which sent the 14 to China on a chartered flight on Feb. 2, less has been said about the incident’s implications on cross-strait judicial agreements.
The deportation was the first case of Taiwanese being deported to China. Along with 10 Chinese suspects, the 14 are in detention in China for operating an international telephone fraud scheme aimed at Chinese in several -provinces. -Government -officials said the 14 could be returned to Taiwan under a joint crime-fighting agreement signed in 2009.
In a joint statement yesterday, civic organizations asked that the matter be resolved and that Beijing respect international human rights agreements in dealing with the 14 before Taiwan agrees to accommodate Chen on his visit next week.
“If Beijing does not provide a positive response before Feb. 22 [the day before Chen’s expected arrival], [Taiwan] should not allow the visit,” the statement by the Cross-Strait Agreement Watch Alliance and the Judicial Reform Foundation said.
While Beijing has already agreed to allow family members to visit the 14 suspects in Beijing, Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), a lawyer with the alliance, said Taiwan’s requests should go one step further.
“Neither the protections afforded by China’s [criminal laws] nor its implementations fulfill human rights protection guidelines,” Lai said, adding that Beijing should also allow rights organizations to visit the -suspects and find them lawyers.
Some academics said the case had less to do now with Manila than Beijing, mostly because of imprecise language in the cross-strait agreements, including the Agreement on Joint Cross-Strait Crime-Fighting and Mutual Judicial Assistance.
“There was nothing wrong with the decision by the Philippines,” said Yang Yun-hua (楊雲驊), an assistant professor of law at National Chengchi University, in terms of jurisdiction and the location where the crimes were committed.
While under Taiwan’s criminal law, crimes committed in China are treated as if they occurred in Taiwan — the result of an antiquated Republic of China Constitution — this clause is not fully understood by other countries, he said.
How would Taiwan prosecute the suspects, given the lack of evidence, witnesses and victims, he asked. The government should be less concerned with their recovery than making sure Beijing gives them a fair trial under international law, he said.