Taipei, July 16 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday lauded the Czech government's decision to provide "subsidiary protection" to eight Taiwanese fraud suspects detained in its capital Prague rather than extradite them to China as requested by Beijing.
Subsidiary protection is an international protection given to a non-EU national or a stateless person who does not qualify as a refugee and would face the risk of suffering serious harm if returned to his or her country of origin, according to the website of European Union (EU).
"We commend and appreciate the position of the Czech government, which showed moral courage and pragmatism in protecting the human rights of these Taiwanese and refusing China's request (for extradition)," MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said at a press conference Tuesday.
It is MOFA's obligation to protect the basic human and legal rights of Taiwanese when they get in trouble outside the country, and the government will do all it can to help the eight Taiwanese and have them deported back to Taiwan for legal proceedings.
The eight Taiwanese were arrested in Prague by police in that country in January 2018 on the basis of a red alert notice issued by Interpol. They were accused by the Chinese government of posing as Chinese police officers and prosecutors to defraud Chinese nationals in their home country by phone.
A court in the Czech Republic agreed to extradite these Taiwanese to China in autumn 2018, believing China's claim that they would be entitled to a fair trial and not be given the death penalty.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek announced via twitter on Monday, however, that the eight Taiwanese will receive subsidiary protection, although he did not provide any further details, citing administrative reasons.
According to a report by the Czech News Agency (CTK), the Czech government feared for the safety of the Taiwanese because of concerns they could face inhumane treatment and even capital punishment if they were extradited to China.
The EU is a strong advocate of abolishing of death penalty.
Beijing has for many years requested countries in which Taiwanese fraud suspects were apprehended in cases with Chinese nationals as victims to extradite them to China, citing investigative and judicial procedures because the victims were in China.
Some also see the requests as Beijing's way of enforcing its so-called "one China principle" to diminish Taiwan's sovereignty.
According to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), at least 650 Taiwanese crime suspects apprehended in a third country have been deported or extradited to China by host governments since 2016.
Such cases have happened as far back as 2011, however, when 14 Taiwanese were deported to China from the Philippines.