Legislature passes international assistance criminal justice bill

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The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday passed the third and final reading of a bill on international mutual judicial and legal assistance in criminal matters with the aim of facilitating cooperation between Taiwan and other countries in the field of criminal justice. (Photo courtesy of CNA, 2017.4.11)

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday passed the third and final reading of a bill on international mutual judicial and legal assistance in criminal matters with the aim of facilitating cooperation between Taiwan and other countries in the field of criminal justice.

The bill states that transnational crimes have grown rapidly in recent years as international drug cartels, money laundering rings and criminals of all shades have taken advantage of remote border areas or differences in legal systems to evade criminal investigation, prosecution and sentencing.

To close these loopholes, nations should work together to coordinate criminal investigations and bring criminals to justice through mutual legal assistance, according to the bill.

Under the act related to international judicial assistance in criminal matters, the authority for implementation falls to the Ministry of Justice.

Mutual legal assistance covers all aspects of investigating and prosecuting crime and other judicial proceedings, including obtaining evidence through search and seizure; serving court documents; assisting with the freezing or confiscation of proceeds of crime etc.

However, it does not apply to extradition and transfer of sentenced prisoners, according to the law.

Taiwan has a degree of judicial assistance in criminal matters with 35 countries, despite the absence of written agreements with some of them, according to Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂).

The bill provides a clearly defined legal basis to follow when China, Hong Kong and Macau pursuing criminal cases request judicial assistance from Taiwan, or when Taiwan requests the same of them.

The enactment of the law is an important indicator in assessing Taiwan’s compliance with the international cooperation recommendations of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering and will help Taiwan prepare for the third round of mutual evaluations by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, scheduled for the end of 2018, according to Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), a legislator from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

(By Justin Su, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Evelyn Kao)