Negotiations to net 'foxes'

Updated: 2014-11-28 07:33

(China Daily)

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Code-named "FOX HUNT 2014", the special campaign to bring back those suspected of economic crimes who have fled the country has netted hundreds since July.

That is an impressive achievement. But, despite the lack of official statistics, that is the mere tip of an iceberg by any estimate. Not to mention that, with some of the most notorious embezzlers at large, the catch is far from satisfactory.

Rhetorically, multiparty and bilateral agreements on judicial assistance in extraditing suspects of economic and corruption-related crimes have been good so far.

By November, this country had 39 extradition treaties with 39 countries, of which 29 have come into effect, and 52 criminal judicial assistance treaties, of which 46 are already in effect.

And at the recent G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, the countries concerned passed an anti-corruption program of action, agreeing to set up a network for anti-graft cooperation and committing themselves to extending mutual judicial assistance and eliminating "safe havens" for corrupt officials.

China has established consultation mechanisms on law-enforcement collaboration with the United States and Canada. That seems to be everything project "Fox Hunt" needs to succeed.

After all, there have been precedents of success. Via the Sino-US Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation, a former Bank of China official, suspected of embezzling hundreds of millions of US dollars, was flown back to China in 2004. Canada has sent back several Chinese criminal suspects in the past years, including notorious Lai Changxing, the main suspect in a large-scale smuggling scandal.

In the absence of proper extradition agreements and arrangements, however, corresponding negotiations have proven exhaustive. The protracted bargaining for Lai's extradition, 12 years in total, is a stark footnote to the challenges.

Different jurisprudential philosophies and judicial practices may make it difficult to maneuver bilateral agreements on extradition protocols. But the promises about cooperation must be honored, and all countries involved must fulfill their obligations to facilitate extradition of criminal suspects.

Even if formal treaties are unrealistic immediately, operational arrangements must be negotiated with the major hiding places for corrupt officials as soon as possible.