By Jason Pan / Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Justice said yesterday that it had extradited a British prisoner to his home country and for the first time repatriated Taiwanese serving prison sentences in Eswatini in accordance with mutual legal assistance agreements and international cooperation initiatives .
Judicial officials said they had to overcome differences in each country’s bureaucratic and legal systems, the halt in international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, language barriers and the need to coordinate with agencies. governmental.
Taiwanese repatriated from Eswatini would serve the remainder of their sentences in Taiwan, officials said.
Over the past year, Taiwan has extradited several foreign detainees to their home countries: two Britons, seven Germans, one Pole and one Dane, said Sean Huang (黃柏翔), a prosecutor with the Department of International Legal Affairs and Inter -strait of the ministry.
Extradition of detainees must be done ethically and in accordance with humanitarian principles and other values shared by democratic countries, Huang said.
People imprisoned in foreign countries experience homesickness and stress due to cultural and language barriers, unfamiliar food, misunderstanding of legal procedures and other obstacles, he said.
The Briton who was extradited may be more comfortable in familiar surroundings, and family and friends can visit and help, Huang said.
It could give the inmate a new chance at life and a better chance of rehabilitation and reintegration into society, he said.
Cross-country extraditions also allow judicial authorities and government agencies of both sides to enhance friendship and trust, and build working platforms and communication channels for future exchanges, he added.
Prosecutor Jane Jung (戎婕), who handled the repatriation of Taiwanese from Eswatini, said the pair returned home in March, ending a more than six-year legal battle.
The two men, who are between 30 and 50 years old, were arrested trying to smuggle 24 pieces of rhino horn taken from four killed animals, worth $2.54 million, reported the media at the time.
In 2017, a court in Eswatini sentenced each of them to 29 years in prison. The sentences were later commuted to 11 years in prison and a fine of NT$400,000 each.
Inmates and their families have written letters to government officials asking that the duo be returned to Taiwan to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
Taiwanese judicial authorities initiated repatriation proceedings in 2018.
They exchanged letters with the government of Eswatini to arrange working meetings with officials from the ministry, forensic investigation units, prosecutors, judges, as well as officials from the Corrections Agency, the ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency, Jung said.
They remained in contact with the Eswatini Ministry of Foreign Affairs, law enforcement and judicial authorities, she said.
“Now both men are serving the remainder of their sentences in Taichung Prison. Their families can visit them once or twice a month. The guards reported that they were in good health and were doing the work required of inmates inside the prison,” Jung said.
The extradition process encountered many problems, she said.
One of the detainees tested positive for COVID-19 in 2019, then nearly all air traffic was halted from 2019 to 2020, virus quarantines caused bureaucratic delays last year, and Taiwanese officials’ flight was was canceled just a day before departure, due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in December last year, Jung said.
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