Officials from the Ministry of Justice and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said the government had expressed its concern to Chinese authorities about the rights of eight Taiwanese who were deported to China by Kenya.
However, they said that Beijing acted in conformity with the principles on legal jurisdiction in having them deported to China, where the targets of the fraud schemes reside.
Tai Tung-li (戴東麗), deputy director of the ministry’s Department of International and Cross-Strait Legal Affairs, told a news conference in Taipei that the government had asked Beijing to deal with the eight Taiwanese in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議), and that they be released and sent back to Taiwan.
“Chinese government officials said they are investigating the Taiwanese suspects for fraud involving phone scams. As these cases took place in China, they were asserting their legal jurisdiction in having the Taiwanese suspects forcibly taken to China,” she said.
Tai said that the Chinese Ministry of Public Security had informed Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau that the eight were held in custody in Beijing on Monday, and promised to handle the case in accordance with the cross-strait legal agreement.
The government will send a delegation to China to negotiate the case, Tai added.
According to information released by Chinese authorities, the victims of the phone scams originating in Kenya were all Chinese citizens — not Taiwanese — so the suspects were deported to China for investigation, Tai said.
“The telecommunication facilities used to make the telephone calls were based in Kenya, so the fraud schemes took place outside of our country, so Taiwan does not have jurisdiction [over the case],” Tai said. “Therefore, China’s handling of the case conforms to principles of international criminal jurisdiction.”
As for reports that the Kenyan court had acquitted the eight, Tai said: “They were found not guilty on three of the charges, which were operating a telecommunications enterprise without a license, operating radio communications without a license and organized crime. The ruling did not involve the fraud charges. From an objective point of view, China made the deportation request to investigate the fraud charges.”
Chen Wen-chi (陳文琪), head of the council’s Department of Legal Affairs, did not respond directly when asked if he found it acceptable for Taiwanese to be placed under criminal investigation in China.
“This case is due to China’s crackdown on criminal activities, so they [Chinese authorities] demanded that Kenya deport the Taiwanese suspects [to China],” she said.
“Our first priority now is to protect the rights of our citizens. Second is we have a cross-strait legal agreement, and they [Chinese authorities] did not so promptly inform us as required in the agreement. That is not right, and the justice ministry has expressed its dissatisfaction over the matter to China’s Ministry of Public Security,” she said.
Chen said the case is still under investigation as the victims are Chinese nationals, with evidence and documents related to the case in China.
“Therefore, during the investigation phase, the Taiwanese suspects might have to spend some time in China,” he said.