- - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Global terrorist attacks and international crime transcend borders, so should international police cooperation. In July, Taiwan successfully arrested some international fraud suspects, who were believed to be involved in an unprecedented cyber-heist with hacker programs planted from overseas to remotely hijack and steal at least $2.2 million from a local bank’s automatic teller machines (ATMs).

Although not a member of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Taiwan actively shared criminal information with neighboring countries and areas to bring down this transnational crime ring. The arrest of key members of the ATM fraud syndicate drew the attention and admiration from other countries’ police forces. It showcases Taiwan’s willingness and ability to cooperate with international law enforcement networks to advance regional and international security.

However, there was much more Taiwan could contribute to a safer world had it been invited to be included in INTERPOL. Though as a committed partner in deterring global criminal activity, Taiwan has been excluded from INTERPOL for political reasons for the past three decades. This has created an egregious gap in the global law enforcement cooperation and coordination mechanism.

Throughout the years, Taiwan has been unable to engage and share relevant security intelligence and suspicious activity information directly with INTERPOL. This creates a security loophole in the region, thus going against the interests of INTERPOL and its member states, including the United States, at a time when the threat of extremism, and illicit and criminal networks are on the rise globally.

In 2017, Taiwan will host the Summer Universiade, the world university games. More than 10,000 participants from 170 countries, including some of the best American college athletes, will gather in Taipei. Allowing Taiwan to gain access to INTERPOL and its real-time databases in background checks will ensure Taiwan properly vets all attendees and provide greater security for this upcoming mega-event.

We appreciate the U.S. Congress for passing a bill supporting Taiwan’s attendance in INTERPOL mechanisms as an observer in early March. President Obama subsequently signed the bill into law to direct the Department of State to develop an assistance strategy. Taiwan is grateful for the staunch U.S. support of Taiwan’s meaningful participation in this international body.

In recent years and in cooperation with foreign police forces, Taiwan has solved more than 200 transnational crimes, ranging from fraud, illicit drugs, human trafficking to cyber-related crimes, and it apprehended more than 12,000 suspects in total. These successful cases of international cooperative actions demonstrate that Taiwan may also provide its contributions to INTERPOL and its member states by providing its crime-fighting experiences and security intelligence if it is invited to participate as an observer.

INTERPOL is to convene its 85th general assembly in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov. 7. In accordance with INTERPOL’s clearly stated vision of “connecting police for a safer world,” Taiwan’s meaningful participation in INTERPOL as an observer would undoubtedly better ensure the safety and security of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Combating international crime should take precedent over any political considerations. It is imperative to include Taiwan in INTERPOL and its activities as an observer for a seamless and more effective network of law enforcement to create a safer world.

Stanley Kao is representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

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