Beijing has ‘legal right’ to demand Kenya deport Taiwanese fraud suspects

Experts say the mainland’s handling of case was backed by international law but more respect and better communication should have been shown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 11:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 April, 2016, 12:17am

Beijing had legal grounds to ask Kenyan authorities to deport Taiwanese fraud suspects to the mainland, legal experts say, but it could have avoided controversy over its handling of the affair by showing more respect and better communication with Taipei.

Forty-five Taiwanese, together with 32 mainlanders in Kenya, were sent to the mainland as authorities investigate their alleged ­involvement in phone scams targeting victims on the mainland.

The deportations attracted criticism, though legal ­experts said Beijing’s handling of the case was supported by international laws.

The mainland’s jurisdiction is recognised by the territorial principle in international law
Xue Lei, legal expert

“Despite the fact the crime was committed in Kenya, the victims are in mainland China. Therefore the mainland’s jurisdiction is recognised by the territorial principle in international law, in which the state can exercise its jurisdiction based on the nationality of the victims,” Xue Lei, an international law expert at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said. “It is the common handling of transnational criminal cases like this in international law.”

‘Indignant’ Taiwan to send officials to Beijing to negotiate release of nationals deported from Kenya for alleged phone scam

His view was echoed by Justin Chen, vice-president of the ­Taipei-based Cross-Strait Policy Association, who said it was natural for Kenya to deport the suspects to the mainland as Nairobi, which has diplomatic ties with Beijing, considered Taiwan part of China.

“Kenya and China, both of which are parties of the Palermo Convention, have the obligation to cooperate in [transnational] organised crime,” said Simon Young, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong.

“On the other hand, there is no extradition agreement between Taiwan and Kenya.”

There is no extradition agreement between Taiwan and Kenya
Simon Young, law professor

The Palermo accord was adopted by the United Nations in 2000 with the aim of promoting cross-border cooperation in tackling organised crime.

Huang Feng, dean of the Institute for International Criminal Law at Beijing Normal University, told Xinhua on Thursday that Taiwan was never involved in investigating the fraud case. The case was being jointly investigated by the mainland and Kenya. So Beijing had the right to ask Kenya to repatriate the Taiwanese, Huang said.

Among the 45 Taiwanese, 23 had been cleared of charges of telecommunications fraud by a court in Kenya. “Just because they have been acquitted in Kenya doesn’t mean that they can walk away free from mainland Chinese law,” Xue said.

Beijing has also come under criticism for lack of communication with the Taiwanese authorities. “The mainland government has shown no respect for Taiwan, and it is totally unacceptable that the family members still have not been able to see the suspects,” Taichung-based attorney Chen Han-chou said. “This is a basic human right even if they have committed a crime.”