Office of International Affairs (OIA)
Office of International Affairs (OIA)
Notice to Central Authorities and other Partners Abroad:
Current Operating Status of the United States Central Authority
March 20, 2020
The Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs (OIA), is continuing operations during the public health emergency resulting from COVID-19. OIA has implemented social distancing through a maximum telework plan and, for the foreseeable future, will continue as much of its normal operations as possible with respect to extradition, mutual legal assistance (MLA) and international prisoner transfer matters, but with a focus on urgent matters.
To better assist us in responding to MLA requests during this time, please transmit your requests and correspondence to us by email only, if direct email contact is possible. As the United States Central Authority, OIA relies on a number of outside agencies for assistance. These include U.S. courts and partner law enforcement agencies, who have reduced their in-office operations and redirected resources to mission essential functions. This is equally true for many businesses from which we seek evidence and information, and upon which we rely in the MLA execution process. We apologize for any delay this may cause in the execution of requests.
We invite continuing communications as the situation changes in our respective countries. We wish everyone health and safety during these challenging times.
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) returns fugitives to face justice, transfers sentenced persons to serve their sentences in their home countries, and obtains essential evidence for criminal investigations and prosecution worldwide by working with domestic partners and foreign counterparts to facilitate the cooperation necessary to enforce the law, advance public safety, and achieve justice.
OIA is focused on keeping Americans safe at home and abroad by ensuring criminals are held accountable for their actions regardless of where in the world they may be hiding. As DOJ’s nerve center for international criminal law enforcement coordination, OIA’s efforts in pursuit of this aim are carried out through five principal works streams: extradition and removal of fugitives, transfer of sentenced persons, international evidence gathering, providing legal advice to DOJ leadership and prosecutors, and international relations and treaty matters.
Extradition and Removal of Fugitives: OIA plays a central role in apprehending and returning fugitives from justice so that they may be held accountable for their crimes. Using all the legal tools at its disposal —extradition, deportation, and other lawful measures — OIA works with domestic and foreign partners to extradite or lawfully remove criminals sought for prosecution in the United States or abroad for a wide variety of offenses, including violent crime.
International Prisoner Transfer: OIA adjudicates applications from sentenced persons to return to their home countries to serve their term of imprisonment. In so doing, OIA meets the obligations of the United States under bilateral treaties and multilateral conventions concerning the transfer of sentenced persons.
International Evidence Gathering: Through a vast network of international relationships and treaties, OIA obtains evidence located abroad that is essential for successful U.S. prosecutions, seeks enforcement of U.S. asset forfeiture orders abroad, and arranges return of assets to the United States. OIA also obtains evidence in the United States on behalf of foreign criminal investigators, thereby enhancing our foreign partners’ ability to interdict criminal threats abroad before they reach our shores.
Legal Advice to DOJ Leadership & Prosecutors: OIA is DOJ’s primary expert on international criminal matters, providing legal and strategic guidance to DOJ leadership with respect to the Department’s present and future challenges in international criminal law enforcement. OIA attorneys also provide advice to federal and state prosecutors regarding novel and complex legal issues arising in litigation and stemming from the international aspects of their prosecutions.
International Relations and Treaty Matters: On matters affecting DOJ’s international law enforcement mission, OIA attorneys negotiate and provide expert counsel regarding treaties and other agreements. OIA attorneys also represent DOJ in a multitude of multilateral fora, where they formulate law enforcement strategies to promote the U.S. government’s law enforcement interests.
OIA is made up of a diverse group of experienced professionals, including many former federal and state prosecutors. OIA is organized into regional teams that cover geographical areas of the world, and specialized teams that handle issues and case work requiring subject-matter expertise. The teams are proficient on a range of policy, legislative, and litigation issues concerning international criminal investigation and prosecution.
A force multiplier, OIA works extensively with other agencies to build successful cases and hold criminals accountable. Our partners are state and local law enforcement, other DOJ components and U.S. government agencies, and foreign investigators and prosecutors.
Vaughn A. Ary
Director, Office of International Affairs