Mutual judicial assistance aims at cross-Strait harmony
Experts from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have hailed the fresh judicial ties between the two sides, saying the joint efforts to fight crimes will be comprehensive, direct and thorough to safeguard harmony across the Taiwan Strait.
On April 26, 2009, top negotiators from the mainland and Taiwan reached a consensus on mutual judicial assistance in an attempt to crack down on severe crimes such as murder, smuggling, human trafficking, terrorist activities, among others.
"The agreement, which covers the entire judicial process of civil and commercial law and the criminal law, was the first comprehensive one between judicial authorities of the mainland and Taiwan," Wang Zhenmin, head of the Law School of the prestigious Tsinghua University, told Xinhua Sunday.
"The agreement came at a time after mutual trust and understanding between the two sides had risen to a high level," said Wang, adding that it will protect, promote and regulate the exchanges in economy, civil affairs and other aspects.
Cross-Strait exchanges have seen development since July 1988 when the State Council, the Chinese Cabinet, issued regulations encouraging Taiwan compatriots to invest in the mainland.
However, judicial authorities from the two sides didn't have a cooperative mechanism, which created chances for criminal suspects to escape and hide in the other region.
Some cross-Strait criminal groups even took advantage of the judicial loopholes to commit human trafficking, drug selling, money laundering, smuggling and other severe crimes.
Under the Kinmen Agreement signed between Red Cross organizations across the Taiwan Strait in September 1990, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan had returned to the other side 38,936 criminals, criminal suspects and people guilty of illegal entry as of January 2007.
However, according to professor Wang Zhenmin, the Kinmen Agreement was limited to the handover of suspects, and such a practice had to be conducted through nongovernmental organizations-- without direct cooperation between the two sides' judicial authorities.
Other difficulties in collecting evidences and execution were also prevalent when dealing with cross-Strait crimes. Joint police action was rare.
According to the new agreement, the two sides will exchange crime-related information and help each other investigate cases and collect evidence. Each side is also responsible for helping the other to identify witnesses, seize and repatriate criminals and suspects.
In addition, both sides are responsible to report key information to the other party, such as information on the detention of each other's suspects and details in the event of a non-disease-related death. Each side should also offer convenience for family members to visit such suspects.
"In recent years, Taiwan people have shown great concern over how the island authorities manage corruption, fraud and other severe economic crimes," Hsu Wen-pin, a renowned Taiwan lawyer and an expert on cross-Strait judicial systems, told Xinhua Sunday.
Hsu said the agreement extended the cross-Strait crackdown to economic field from mere criminal activities, which accords with Taiwan people's expectations.
Other major crimes listed for the joint crackdown include robbery, hijacking and economic wrongdoing, such as money laundering and falsifying currencies and securities.
Previous reports said a survey conducted by the Taiwan-based mainland affairs committee show that 79.6 percent of 1,132 respondents favored the agreement.
Xu Bodong, an expert on Taiwan affairs and also professor of the Beijing Union University, said the agreement, which sets up institutionalized regulations on the judicial collaboration, indicates a significant transition for mainland-Taiwan relations.
"The agreement doesn't involve any political issues, so it can be applied under any circumstances," said Xu.