A treaty between the Governments of Belize and Taiwan was signed yesterday that will see both countries offering mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. A very vague and brief release was issued by the Government’s Press Office with no details of the treaty or a clear understanding of how it will be carried out. What we can tell you from the release is that there was a ceremony held at the Laing Building in Belize City and that this is a treaty that had been previously signed by Taiwanese Minister Her Excellency Ching-Hsiang Tsai, whose signature was witnessed by the Her Excellency Diane Haylock, Ambassador of Belize to Republic of China (Taiwan). Our newsroom sought further details on this agreement when we spoke with Foreign Minister Wilfred Sedi Elrington stated that this is a treaty that will benefit both parties.
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Assistance shall include taking the testimony or statement of persons, providing documents, records and articles of evidence, locating or identifying persons, serving documents, executing requests for searches and seizures, examining objects and sites, assisting in proceedings related to immobilization and confiscation of assets or collection of fines and any other form of assistance not contrary to the laws of either party. This is important because persons can in fact commit offences in Taiwan and then fly to Belize, they don’t need a visa to come to Belize they have visa free arrangement so that unless they have some way in which our authorities can help to do the research to identify them to find them, do the investigation and cooperate with the Taiwan authorities they may not get these people to justice. So this mutual legal assistance treaty is one that countries enter into kind of routinely. This one does not involve extradition, in other words we can’t take the person and go through the legal process to send them back but we can give the requesting country all assistance they need to prosecute the criminal matter, to get back assets, to find information and that kind of thing.”
According to the release this treaty is the legal framework for more effective collaboration between the respective legal authorities on requests for legal assistance, in connection with investigations, court proceedings or prosecutions. The agreement is based on the principle of reciprocity.