Reform advocates urge China to protect suspects’ rights

By Joseph Yeh,The China Post

Judicial reform advocates yesterday called for Beijing to repatriate the 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects that were deported to China by the Philippines earlier this month for trial as soon as possible. They also urged the Chinese authorities to protect the rights of the Taiwanese in legal trials before their return. The Chinese government should also agree to offer human rights representatives and local officials access to the suspects who have been detained in Beijing since being deported there on Feb. 2, Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正) said in a press conference yesterday in Taipei.

”We refuse to welcome the upcoming visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) if the Chinese government does not give a positive response to these requests before Feb. 22,” Lin added.

Chen and a delegation of Chinese businessmen are slated to arrive on Feb. 23 before traveling to the southern port of Kaohsiung on Feb. 24 for a 6-day cultural and economic tour.

Legal experts and scholars who joined yesterday’s press conference also jointly urged Taiwan’s government to amend the current cross-strait agreement on judicial cooperation in fighting cross-border crime, which proved to have made little impact in the ongoing incident. ”The concept of human rights protection should be added to the cross-strait pact so that the legal rights of suspects and criminals can be better protected,” said Academia Sinica research fellow Fort Liao (廖福特). The 14 suspects were arrested in Manila late last year along with 10 Chinese nationals by a China-Philippines joint crime-fighting team on charges of cross-border fraud. The deportation of the Taiwanese suspects to China instead of Taiwan has drawn strong protests from the government and prompted its decision to impose various punitive measures against the Philippines in retaliation for the move that has seriously damaged the country’s sovereignty and jurisprudence.