The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is part of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. OIA is responsible for securing the return of fugitives from abroad, and for requesting from foreign countries evidence and other assistance needed in U.S. criminal investigations and prosecutions. In this regard, OIA assists state and local as well as federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents. OIA is also responsible for assisting foreign countries with respect to the extradition of fugitives and the production of evidence located in the United States. OIA is responsible, along with the Department of State, for the negotiation of bilateral extradition and legal assistance treaties and multilateral law enforcement conventions. Once these international instruments enter into force, OIA works with its foreign counterparts to ensure effective treaty implementation. OIA briefs the Attorney General and other senior Department of Justice officials on international issues and provides advice on sensitive law enforcement matters that could impact the foreign relations and strategic interests of the United States.
OIA assists prosecutors and law enforcement personnel in the United States to secure the return of international fugitives. The Office coordinates international fugitive matters with the Department of State and serves as the Justice Department's central point of contact for all requests for the extradition to the United States of fugitives located abroad. Every formal request for international extradition based on federal or state criminal charges must be reviewed and approved by OIA. The Office also works with federal prosecutors to extradite foreign fugitives located in the United States. OIA receives and reviews extradition requests from foreign authorities and works with other U.S. authorities to locate and arrest the fugitive wanted abroad. OIA attorneys also assist U.S. prosecutors handling the extradition cases before U.S. courts, and serve as the primary point of contact for the foreign government seeking the extradition.
International Evidence Gathering in Criminal Matters
OIA serves as the United States Central Authority with respect to all requests for information and evidence received from and made to foreign authorities under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) and multilateral conventions regarding assistance in criminal matters. As a matter of practice, OIA also receives and reviews requests for assistance made on behalf of prosecution authorities pursuant to letters rogatory or letters of request in criminal cases. OIA assists federal and state prosecutors to prepare requests for information or evidence located abroad and also executes assistance requests received from foreign authorities. For assistance relating to civil matters, please consult the Office of International Judicial Assistance in the Civil Division.
Negotiation of Treaties
Together with the Department of State, OIA negotiates and implements a network of treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance (MLATs) intended to secure the return of fugitives and to obtain evidence located abroad. OIA also participates in the negotiation of multilateral conventions that serve as the basis for mutual legal assistance in the absence of a bilateral treaty and supplement existing extradition treaties. Notable among these instruments are the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances; the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its protocols; the UN Convention Against Corruption; and the Council of Europe (COE) Cyber-crime Convention.
In coordination with other agencies, OIA helps formulate country and regional law enforcement strategies, and assists in the implementation of multilateral treaties. OIA attorneys frequently represent the Department of Justice on criminal justice matters in multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, the G-7 group of major industrialized nations, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OIA also maintains an active liaison with other multilateral organizations, such as the European Union and the Council of Europe. OIA attorneys also participate on a number of committees and working groups established under the auspices of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations that address a wide assortment of international law enforcement concerns, such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, cyber-crime, corruption and money laundering.
OIA and the Criminal Division currently have Department of Justice Attachés stationed in U.S. Embassies in Bangkok, Bogota, Brussels, London, Manila, Mexico City, Paris, and Rome. These Attachés work with U.S. prosecutors and law enforcement personnel as well as with foreign authorities in their assigned countries or regional areas on operational matters relating to criminal investigations and prosecutions, including requests for the return of fugitives and requests for mutual legal assistance.