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Deporting Taiwanese to China a human rights violation: spokesman

ROC Central News Agency

2016/08/08 18:14:39

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) The decision by Kenyan police to send five Taiwanese nationals to China after they were acquitted by a Kenyan court violated their human rights and went against international norms, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Monday.

Huang said it was regrettable that Kenyan authorities caved in to pressure from Beijing and handed over the Taiwanese nationals to China, despite a court ruling stipulating that the five should be sent back to Taiwan.

The government will try to use an agreement on joint crime fighting and judicial assistance signed between Taiwan and China in 2009 "to demand the Chinese side to send back our people as soon as possible, so their personal freedom and legal rights can be protected," Huang said.

Cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said, meanwhile, that Taiwan's government will lodge a serious protest to Kenya and China for their pursuit of the Taiwanese nationals considered by Beijing as fraud suspects.

Tung also reiterated the government's stance of seeking the return of Taiwanese nationals from China to face investigations into their alleged crimes at home.

The five Taiwanese nationals, along with 35 Chinese citizens, were found not guilty running unlicensed telecom operations and engaging in organized crime by a Kenyan court on Aug. 5 because of what the court said was the prosecutors' failure to prove their case.

Because Taiwan does not have a presence in Kenya, Taiwan's representative to South Africa John Chen (陳忠) had spent a lot of time in Nairobi to deal with the case and prevent the country from handing over Taiwanese nationals to China.

But despite his efforts, international media coverage of the case and efforts by human rights groups, the five Taiwanese were put on a chartered flight to China on Sunday evening, Kenyan time.

The five Taiwanese nationals acquitted on Aug. 5 were arrested along with several others in November 2014 for allegedly staying in Kenya without proper documentation and running illegal telecom operations, which were later linked to fraud schemes targeting people in China.

The other 23 Taiwanese arrested in 2014 were acquitted for the same charges in April, but they and 22 Taiwanese arrested for similar allegations in early April were deported to China -- eight of them on April 8 and the other 37 on April 13.

Taiwan sent a delegation to China in late April to visit the Taiwanese deported by Kenya and detained there and negotiate Taiwan's participation in the Chinese investigation.

It sent another delegation in May after Malaysia handed over 32 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China on April 30.

In late June, Cambodia also handed 32 Taiwanese nationals arrested for alleged involvement in fraud rings busted in the Southeast Asian country over to China.

China used to work closely with Taiwan on cracking down fraud rings based in a third country and allowed Taiwan to take back Taiwanese suspects to face the judicial process at home.

But after many of the suspects faced little more than slaps on the wrist in Taiwan, China began taking a more active role by working directly with the third country to tackle the fraud rings mostly composed of Taiwanese and Chinese nationals.

Part of Beijing's campaign has been to have the third countries send the Taiwanese to China for investigation on the grounds that most of the fraud victims were in China.

China's reduced communications with Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20 also led to a halt of negotiations on issues related to the Taiwanese fraud suspects touched upon by the previous Taiwanese delegations that visited China.

(By Sophia Yeh, Tai Ya-chen and Kay Liu)
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