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Curtis Fights to Protect Taiwan from Foreign Political Abuse

Last week, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, continued his efforts to protect Taiwan from foreign political adversaries by joining a group of his bipartisan colleagues to introduce the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) ActThe legislation addresses politically-motivated abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) by autocracies. He also led a bipartisan letter with 46 of his colleagues to US Attorney General William Barr and Secretary Pompeo regarding Taiwan’s lack of participation in Interpol [SEE HERE].

“Autocratic countries like Russia and China have abused Interpol databases and processes for political and other unlawful purposes, such as intimidating, harassing, and persecuting political opponents, journalists, members of civil society, and non-pliant members of the business community. Additionally, China flat out refuses to let Taiwan participate in Interpol and other international organizations,” said Curtis. “This letter will prompt the Administration to engage in a new strategy to combat China’s refusal to allow Taiwan to gain observer status in Interpol and the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act will protect the US judicial system from the influence of abusive INTERPOL notices.”

The TRAP Act:

Most notoriously, Russia has abused Interpol systems such as Notice and Diffusion mechanisms and the Stolen and Lost Document Database for political and other unlawful purposes, harassing and intimidating those who stand opposed to Vladimir Putin. Similarly, China has admitted to attempting to use Interpol to bypass the lack of an extradition treaty with the U.S. to demand the return of perceived political criminals.

The TRAP Act will:

  • Establish priorities for the U.S. in responding to INTERPOL abuse and promoting reform within INTERPOL;
  • Identify areas for improvement in the U.S. government’s response to INTERPOL abuse; and
  • Protect the U.S. judicial system from the influence of abusive INTERPOL notices.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08), Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04), Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Background on INTERPOL Letter:

Public Law 114-139 directs the President to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization. Since it was enacted in 2016, the law has required the U.S. to seek observer membership of Interpol for Taiwan. This includes:

  • Taiwan’s relations with Interpol should not be blocked by the People’s Republic of China.
  • Taiwan deserves Interpol observer membership on its merits: it is a mature and law-abiding democracy, with effective and honest judicial and police systems. 
  • By participating as an observer in Interpol, Taiwan will be able to play an effective role in the international police cooperation that Interpol exists to foster.

The letter will prompt a new strategy for the Administration to fulfill the intent of Congress as enacted in law in 2016: creating a draft agreement for how the Criminal Investigation Bureau can assist Interpol, securing support for this draft agreement with other Interpol nations, and presenting this draft agreement to the Executive Committee before the General Assembly Meeting.