Taiwan protests Kenya’s ‘extralegal’ deportation of nationals to mainland China

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 12:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 11:08pm

Taiwan on Monday strongly protested the move to deport five Taiwanese nationals to mainland China, despite an acquittal ruling by a Kenyan court and a court order stating they should have been sent to Taiwan.

The island’s Foreign Ministry lodged a protest to the Kenyan government on Monday, saying it expressed regret that Nairobi had bowed to Beijing’s pressure and forcibly sent the five Taiwanese nationals, who were found not guilty of committing internet fraud, to mainland China, despite a Kenyan court order that said they should be sent to Taiwan.

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Taiwan’s top agency in charge of relations with the mainland, the Mainland Affairs Council, has urged Beijing through “various communication channels” to jointly establish rules governing cross-border crimes committed by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Before such principles are established, the council said the mainland should continue the practices established by both sides over the years and send the five to Taiwan for further investigation.

However, “Beijing ignored the Kenyan court ruling and defied the court order to send the five suspects to Taiwan”, the council said in a statement.

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“We have expressed deep regret and lodged a strong protest to the Chinese authorities,” it said.

Beijing’s move not only disregarded the long-term cooperation practice between the two sides, but also ignored Taiwan’s repeated requests to send the five Taiwanese nationals home, it added.

“It has seriously hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people,” it said.

The council said it would continue to negotiate with Beijing on the safe return of the five and urged Chinese authorities to continue dialogue to effectively combat cross-border crimes.

Communications between Taiwan and the mainland have been suspended since May when President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has historically been more sceptical of closer ties with China, took office.

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Since Tsai was elected president in January, Beijing has pressured countries where Taiwanese suspects have been charged with defrauding Internet users in China to send them to the mainland.

In April, 45 Taiwanese were forcibly put on a plane to the mainland in defiance of a Kenyan court order and despite the Taiwanese government’s efforts to bring them home.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Beijing for its involvement in what it called the extralegal deportations of Taiwanese nationals.

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It said images of the deportees getting off a plane with black hoods over their heads and shackles around their hands, as well as the subsequent broadcast of some of their “confessions”, offered “little reassurance that they will enjoy any resemblance of a fair trial”.

The latest five Taiwanese are part of the same case. Amnesty International has urged Kenyan authorities to respect the due process of the law and refrain from deporting Taiwanese nationals to China, where it said they face a real risk of human rights violations.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.