Tue, Nov 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet close to finalizing international crimefighting bill

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Cabinet is close to finalizing a draft bill on international cooperation in criminal proceedings to facilitate investigations and prosecutions involving Taiwanese suspects, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said yesterday.

The Cabinet yesterday reached an understanding on the proposed measure with Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers during a regular meeting, Hsu said.

Given its political limitations, Taiwan has found it difficult to establish formal judicial cooperation frameworks with other nations, and the draft bill is to provide a framework for cooperation even in the absence of a formal agreement, he said.

The bill stipulates reciprocal judicial assistance in evidence collection, information delivery, search, seizure, assets freezing and measures to return criminals’ illegal gains to victims.

The bill would also authorize judicial authorities, when seeking international cooperation in criminal cases, to guarantee immunity and exemption from Taiwan’s laws to foreign nationals summoned to testify in Taiwanese courts.

This would be helpful in cases where the foreign nationals are suspected accomplices in a crime being investigated by Taiwan, as foreign governments might not be willing to turn over their citizens unless they can be guaranteed the suspects would be returned home, Hsu said.

The bill also authorizes authorities to provide assistance to nations that do not have cooperation agreements with Taiwan to help international efforts to crack down on crime, especially drug trafficking.

It specifies that the government should return confiscated illegal gains of a crime to victims upon the request of the foreign authorities that represent the victims.

“The property restoration mechanism is aimed at curbing fraud by preventing criminals from profiting from their illegal activities,” Hsu said.

It would also save victims the trouble of having to plead with a foreign court to regain their property or funds, he said.

The bill would be applicable to China, Hong Kong and Macau, even though interactions with them are covered by 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), Hsu said, adding that Chinese are the main victims of Taiwanese fraud rings.

The proposed bill would also help gain international recognition of Taiwan’s efforts to combat money-laundering, the spokesman said.

However, although many Taiwanese suspected of involvement in international telecom scams in other countries have been sent to China instead of Taiwan for prosecution, the proposed bill does not specify extradition terms as a condition of judicial cooperation since foreign governments are under no obligation to comply with such terms, he said.

The government would continue to strongly protest the deportation of Taiwanese suspects to China by third-party nations, he added.

The Executive Yuan is likely to approve the proposal on Thursday, and then it would be sent to the Legislative Yuan as a priority bill, he said.

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