Global law enforcement coordination has become even more critical in this age of international terrorism, cybercrime, telecom fraud and increasing transnational crime, including cross-border drug smuggling. Yet, Taiwan has been excluded from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) for the past 35 years, ever since China was admitted as a member in 1984. As a result, Taiwan’s police force has been denied access to the I-24/7 Global Police Communications System and the stolen and lost travel documents database. It is imperative that Taiwan re-establish its links with Interpol through participation as an observer at the 2019 Interpol General Assembly, scheduled to be held in Santiago, Chile, from Oct. 15 to Oct. 18.
Taiwan’s commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of the Interior, Huang Ming-chao, has clearly indicated that Taiwan spares no efforts in fighting cross-border crime. Only by participating in Interpol will Taiwan be able to acquire timely and complete criminal information, enforce law and order, and engage in closer cooperation with police agencies worldwide to combat transnational crime. Commissioner Huang also reiterated that maintaining global security and social justice must take precedence over regional, ethnic and political differences. Taiwan should be included in the Interpol mechanism.
Taiwan is willing and able to make even greater contributions to the international community. Taiwan police has been proactively taking part in investigations of drug-related regional syndicate. In August 2018, Taiwan and the Philippines seized 500 kilograms of amphetamines smuggled from Malaysia through a joint maritime operation. Later, in October, Taiwan worked with South Korea to seize 112 kilograms of amphetamines smuggled out of Thailand.
Article 2 of Interpol’s constitution stipulates, “Its aims are to ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities.” No exceptions for any political reasons. Unfortunately, Taiwan is not able to acquire updated criminal information through various bilateral channels because of external political restrictions imposed by Beijing’s Orwellian oppression. In 2017, Taiwan’s police made 130 requests to other countries seeking information or assistance in investigations, but received responses in only 46 cases. Besides, Taiwan has regularly had its requests for cooperation with Interpol denied for political reasons, including its 2016 request to attend the Interpol General Assembly as an observer, seeking Interpol security assistance with the Taipei 2017 Universiade, and another request to attend the Interpol General Assembly as an observer in 2018. Each of these requests was rejected with the additional demand that Taiwan contact the Interpol National Central Bureau in Beijing.
Taiwan, situated in a strategic location between Northeast and Southeast Asia, serves as a nexus for the flow of people, goods and money, receiving nearly 70 million visitors in 2018. Its continued exclusion from Interpol undermines the global endeavor to fight terrorism, illicit drugs, telecom and cyber fraud, and other new forms of transnational crime. As such, Taiwan’s bid to attend the General Assembly as an observer is both appropriate and reasonable. Beijing has no authority over the sovereignty of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens or over its police force. Taiwan stands up for itself.
I urge that both governments and concerned citizens, who care about law and order in an increasingly dangerous world, strongly support Taiwan’s participation in the 2019 Interpol General Assembly as an observer, as well as in its related meetings, mechanisms and training activities. The only winners in keeping Taiwan isolated from international law enforcement activities are the world’s criminals and terrorists.
• Stanley Kao is representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.
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