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Missed opportunity to help fight transnational crime

The 88th International Criminal Police Organization General Assembly was held in Santiago, Chile on Oct. 15 to 18.

INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, enabling police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place.

Regrettably, however, Taiwan was not invited to attend the 88th General Assembly, and has been barred from accessing key intelligence information instantly shared through the I-24/7, a global police communications system and stolen and lost travel documents database.

Taiwanese police could not connect to the I-24/7 system to provide timely criminal information to other countries, creating a gap in the global law enforcement network, hampering efforts to capture members of the transnational crime syndicate, and causing financial losses to people in numerous countries.

Article 2 of INTERPOL’s Constitution states the organization’s aim, which is “to ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities…” As transnational organized crime presents a serious threat and daunting challenge to almost every country, the cooperation of police agencies from all over the world is needed, and Taiwan’s participation is essential to the realization of this objective.

Taiwan serves as a key hub connecting Northeast and Southeast Asia, and there are nearly 68.9-million travelers were recorded to have been entering, leaving, or transiting through Taiwan in 2018. In the 2018 Global Peace Index published by Australia’s Institute for Economics and Peace, Taiwan was ranked 34th out of 163 countries worldwide with regard to safety and was listed 31st worldwide in terms of reliability of police services in the Global Competitiveness Report 2018.

However, Taiwan’s efforts in fighting cross-border crime are seriously hampered due to its exclusion from the INTERPOL. Although Taiwan seeks to acquire updated criminal information through bilateral channels, countries are often reluctant to cooperate because of political factors. In 2017, Taiwan’s police agency made 130 requests to other countries seeking information or assistance in investigations, but received responses in only 46 cases. In a report released by Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau in October 2019, it cited an instance of its cooperation with Filipino authorities wherein a suspect, involved in the murder of a Canadian National in New Taipei City, was apprehended in the Philippines. Unable to access the I-24/7 system and other INTERPOL databases, Taiwanese police were prevented from gaining timely access to information on the suspect, which made the investigation more challenging.

Maintaining global security and social justice must take precedence over regional, ethnic, and political differences. Taiwan spares no effort in fighting cross-border crime, which not only serves as a strong commitment that Taiwan is willing and ready to work with all the related agencies in the world, but also manifests the importance of Taiwan’s participation in INTERPOL.

Taiwan is willing and able to make the world safer. I hereby call on the Philippine government and its people to voice your endorsement of Taiwan’s participation in the annual INTERPOL General Assembly as an Observer, as well as meetings, mechanisms and training activities organized by INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Only by doing so will the gap and breach in the global security network be filled and a safer world be created.

Peiyung Hsu

Representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines

Topics: 88th International Criminal Police Organization General Assembly , Santiago , Chile , INTERPOL , Taiwan
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