Strengthening international and cross-strait joint cooperation to fight against cross-border crimes
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Ⅰ. Actively participating in various international organizations and events
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) of R.O.C. (Taiwan) has been actively participating in international events or conferences for academic and practical experience exchanges, maintaining close contact with representatives from various countries, and enhancing the capabilities of our law enforcement officers when carrying out investigations through international activities. For example, we have participated in and have become a full member of several international organizations, such as the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of Asia/Pacific (ARIN-AP), the Network on Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET), the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group (ACTWG) under the organization for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), the European Judicial Network (EJN) and EUROJUST.
The MOJ regularly assigns representatives to attend the annual meetings organized by the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP). Furthermore, the heads from Prosecutors’ Offices are invited and participate in the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) each year to expand opportunities for mutual legal assistance with countries around the world.
Ⅱ. Negotiate and sign Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties and Agreements with foreign countries to establish a cooperation structure
After a long period of continuous effort, the R.O.C. (Taiwan) has established mutual legal assistance agreements on criminal matters with seven countries (the United States, the Philippines, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of Belize, and the Slovak Republic), as well as the Cross-Strait Joint-Fight against Crime and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with Mainland China. We also signed a Civil Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement with Vietnam; Moreover, the R.O.C. (Taiwan) has coordinated with Germany, the United Kingdom, Kingdom of Eswatini, Denmark, and Switzerland on the transfer of sentenced persons through mutually agreed agreements and arrangements and signed extradition treaties with 12 countries as well, including the Republic of Paraguay and Kingdom of Eswatini.
Ⅲ. Improve legal framework and mechanisms for mutual legal assistance
The "Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act" (hereinafter, “MLA Act”), as the legal basis for implementation for international mutual legal assistance with foreign countries, was passed by the Legislative Yuan and entered into force on May 2, 2018, after being promulgated by the President. By enacting the “MLA Act”, we could regulate the procedure and define the scope of requests by foreign countries for mutual legal assistance. The “MLA Act” does provide a more stable, precise, and transparent mechanism for legal assistance with foreign countries.
Following the "Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act” passed on January 2, 2013, the MOJ gives an impetus to establish the reciprocal mechanism of international cooperation in the continuous transfer of sentenced persons. With the spirit of humanity as the fundamental principle, we will keep pushing the reception and repatriation of sentenced persons with foreign countries forward. Up to now, the MOJ has transferred prisoners of 7 German, 1 British, 1 Danish, and 1 Polish back to Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Poland respectively to continue their sentences.
Ⅳ.Following the principles of mutual legal assistance and accumulating experience on various cases to combat cross-border crimes
The operation of mutual legal assistance among the R.O.C. (Taiwan) and foreign countries has always been relatively smooth and productive. Since 2013, the MOJ have submitted an average of about 40 mutual legal assistance requests each year. So far, the MOJ have received 250 requests from foreign countries. We have also accumulated much successful experience in this field. For example, we have cooperated with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Jersey, Luxembourg, and the Isle of Man to recover a considerable amount of criminal proceeds that had been transferred abroad. This well-known Lafayette case has set the highest amount of criminal proceeds to be frozen by a foreign court in the R.O.C. (Taiwan) judicial record. In addition, the R.O.C. (Taiwan) also aims at cracking down on transnational telecom crimes in recent years. Through mutual legal assistance in criminal matters from the U.S., Poland, Slovenia, Montenegro, etc., the Taiwan prosecution authorities have successfully brought prosecutions against these international criminal organizations.
- Please refer to the statistics on mutual legal assistance as follows:
- Recent critical cases of mutual legal assistance between R.O.C. (Taiwan) and foreign countries are as follows:
- Verdict of the “homicide” in the Taiwanese fishing boat the Kuang Ta Hsing No.28 by the Manila District Court of the Philippines:
After Taiwan and the Philippines signed an agreement on mutual legal assistance on April 19, 2013, the case of a fishing boat the Kuang Ta Hsing No.28 just occurred in the following month. The MOJ, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines collaborated closely with the Philippine government, the Philippines Attorney’s Office, and law enforcement agencies under the aforesaid agreement. In addition, the MOJ had assigned several head prosecutors and prosecutors to the Philippines to conduct investigations and collect related evidence, which actively strengthened the judicial cooperation between our two countries.
Thanks to the tight collaboration between Taiwan and the Philippines, the Philippines Attorney formally prosecuted eight coastguard officers for "homicide" on March 18, 2014 then. On September 18, 2019, the Manila District Court of the Philippines passed a guilty verdict to all eight Filipino defendants, and their sentences were ranged from 8 years to 14 years of imprisonment.
According to the Philippine judicial proceeding, the defendants can still appeal. The MOJ will keep abreast of any developments in this case.
2. Seeking extradition with the U.K. on Zain’s case
A British citizen, Zain Tai Dean (Zain), killed a newsboy while driving drunk in Taiwan in 2010. He then absconded to Scotland while the judicial proceeding was in progress and was sentenced later to four years by the court in R.O.C. (Taiwan). To this end, the Ministry of Justice sought mutual legal assistance and subsequently signed an extradition memorandum with the UK on October 16, 2013 to request extradition of Zain to Taiwan. Zain was arrested by the British police soon after the memorandum came into effect.
The Edinburgh Sheriff Court ruled on June 11, 2014 that Zain must be extradited to Taiwan to serve his sentence, which the Scottish Minister approved in August of the same year. On September 23, 2016, the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh rejected the extradition request owing to the doubts that the prison conditions in Taiwan might not meet the requirements pursuant to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. After the Scottish prosecutors assisted in filing an appeal on behalf of R.O.C. (Taiwan) government, the UK Supreme Court on June 28, 2017 returned the whole case back to the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh for a new trial. Finally, on June 6, 2019, the High Court ruled that there were grounds for Zain’s appeal against extradition to R.O.C. (Taiwan).
Zain's case had been through the courts of trial in the U.K. for six years. The MOJ, the MOFA, the Taipei Representative Office in the UK and the Edinburgh Office cooperated closely and provided substantial intelligence with the Scottish prosecutors for the court plea.
Even if the result didn’t meet our expectation, in this process, the British court had recognized the high judicial power and legal status of R.O.C.(Taiwan) for requesting extradition in the judgments on this case, also set a precedent for judicial cooperation between R.O.C. (Taiwan) and the UK, and also affirmed that the court judgment from R.O.C. (Taiwan) conforms to the fair trial procedure. In addition, the civil judgment by Taiwan’s court on Zain's case had also been recognized by the UK’s court.
- For more information, please refer to the Mutual Legal Assistance Section on this website.