Three children were left in China when their mother was extradited to Taiwan to face fraud charges, but the Ministry of Justice yesterday said the children were not extraditable under the Cross-Strait Joint Fight against Crime and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement.
The children’s father, surnamed Wu (吳), accompanied by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻), told a press conference yesterday in Taipei that his wife took the three children with her to China in January last year.
However, when police repatriated her to face charges of forgery and fraud in May last year, the three children were left behind.
The oldest of the three is now 14, and the youngest 10, according to the father, saying that he has no idea where his two sons and daughter are.
Wu Yi-chen said the children’s mother had refused to divulge the children’s whereabouts. The legislator said that the father has sought help from various government agencies, including the Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Justice, but received only piles of documents in return, with no substantial results.
According to the lawmaker, the police had been notified of the missing children as early as January last year and had known later that the children were taken to China by their mother.
“They should have requested the return of all three children along with the repatriated mother, but failed to do so,” Wu Yi-chen said.
While Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi’s (王郁琦) had just visited to China for a historic political meeting, “issues that really matter to the people’s livelihood have been neglected,” said the lawmaker, accusing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of “being good at political calculation, but not understanding people’s struggles.”
Ministry official Lai Shih-peng (賴世鵬) responded that the cross-strait agreement of mutual legal assistance allows for the extradition of criminal suspects only.
“It would be a violation of human rights, in a way, to ‘repatriate’ the three children along with the mother,” said Lai, advising the father to file his request through judicial institutions, which would refer the case to the ministry, which would then transfer the request to its Chinese counterpart based on the agreement.
The council said it had also issued official documents, with the help of the Straits Exchange Foundation, to Chinese judicial institutions for possible assistance, but has not received any positive response.
Taiwan Children’s Rights Association director-general Wang Wei-chun (王薇君) said that there is a lack of a clear mechanism or legal base for the two sides to deal with judicial matters, a vacuum that results in victims being clueless of where and how to file the requests and complaints.
The children’s father said that Chinese public security officials had demanded money from him, which he refused to pay for fear of setting a bad precedent.
According to the legislator, as of August last year, only 2 percent of the criminals requested by the Taiwanese government for extradition have been successfully repatriated and the Chinese government has responded to only 40 percent of Taiwan’s requests for criminal information exchanges since 2009, the year the agreement was signed.