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April 10, 2018: Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act Passed the Third Reading and Mutual Legal Assistance has Entered a New Era

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The draft of Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act passed the Third Reading on April 10, 2018. The reason for the formulation of this Act is to deal with cross-border crime. The current Law in Supporting Foreign Courts on Consigned Cases is limited to delivering documents and investigation of evidence entrusted by foreign courts to assist criminal cases. The specification density is seriously insufficient. Besides the above types, foreign countries may file requests based on reciprocity, but this entirely depends on the practical operation and willingness of foreign countries. Both are difficult to meet the requirements of the complex mutual legal assistance requirement.

This law provides a complete set of enactments. In addition to eliminating the uncertainty caused by the lack of regulations in the past, our mutual legal assistance system is more transparent and predictable, and can supplement the existing gaps in criminal legal assistance in agreements with the United States, South Africa, and the Philippines. The Act adopted UN, Germany, and Japan legislative examples, which could help our legal system align with the trend of the world.

This Act breaks through the framework of current laws, which only deal with mutual assistance between courts and expands to the investigation and execution range. Types of mutual assistance are not limited to obtaining evidence and service of document and add search, seizure, implementation of the order for confiscation of assets, and even other types of assistance not contradictory to the law of Taiwan to respond to emerging crime patterns and diversify the means of combating cross-border crime. The APG assessment at the end of this year also listed this Act as one of the indicators.

This Act adds implementation of order for confiscation of assets to solve the dilemma that we only could help other countries to seize but could not return assets. The Act defines the requirements, method and effectiveness of transferring all or part of the assets or value to the said foreign government in order to realize final justice.

MOJ expects this Act can strengthen the broadness and depth of mutual legal assistance with other countries. Through the mutual assistance of obtaining evidence, implementation the order of confiscation and return proceeds from crimes, cross-border crime could be dismantled, the justice could be realized and the benefits of people could be protected.

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