Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT)

Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT)

OPDAT Niger Banner
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The Department of Justice and OPDAT programs provide immediate and relevant technical assistance to our African partners.

WHAT IS OPDAT?

OPDAT was created in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice in 1991 in response to the growing threat of transnational crime.  OPDAT builds strong foreign partners who can work with the United States to enhance cooperation in transnational cases and to fight crime before it reaches our shores. 

OPDAT has Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs), Intermittent Legal Advisors (ILAs), and International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Advisors (ICHIPs) posted around the world providing expert assistance and case-based mentoring to foreign counterparts to develop justice systems that can combat transnational crime, corruption, and terrorism consistent with international standards and in furtherance of U.S. national security. 

OPDAT helps keep Americans safe from violent crime by increasing partner nation capacity to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations at the source.  OPDAT works with foreign counterparts to strengthen and implement capabilities to investigate and prosecute organized crime (including gangs and cartels), terrorism, terrorism financing, money laundering and economic crimes, corruption, cybercrime, intellectual property crime, trafficking in persons, trafficking in narcotics, and other transnational criminal activities.

SUPPORT OF U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY GOALS

OPDAT draws on USG and Department of Justice resources and expertise to strengthen foreign criminal justice sector institutions and enhance the administration of justice abroad. OPDAT programs are designed to strengthen the link between security sector assistance and tangible law enforcement and justice sector outcomes. Additionally, DOJ’s overseas operational and assistance engagements reinforce one another, consistent with U.S. national security objectives, so that the Department is able to use the full force of its authority and expertise to work with foreign governments in combating transnational crime, advancing security, and promoting human rights. Through OPDAT’s programs, partnerships are developed with foreign justice systems that in turn build capacity to achieve national security and justice priorities.

GLOBAL REACH AND PROGRAM SCOPE

The majority of OPDAT’s programs are implemented in country by Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs), who are experienced U.S. prosecutors attached to U.S. Embassies for at least one year, typically longer.  With the assistance of their Foreign Service National staff, they assess host country criminal justice institutions and procedures; draft, review and comment on legislation and criminal enforcement policy; and provide technical assistance to host country officials at the Ministry of Justice, Chief Prosecutor’s Office, or to prosecutors, judges, and other justice sector personnel working in the field.  OPDAT also deploys Intermittent Legal Advisors (ILAs), U.S. prosecutors who are on targeted assignments of less than a year.

Finally, OPDAT has developed a global network of International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Advisors (ICHIPs) to advise foreign counterparts on strengthening investigations, prosecutions, and cross-border cooperation against cyber and IP crimes.  RLA, ILA, and ICHIP programs are overseen by Headquarters regional teams.  At any given time, OPDAT has more than 60 RLAs, ILAs, and ICHIPs serving in approximately 50 countries on bi-lateral and regional capacity building programs.

In addition to programs initiated in the field, OPDAT headquarters staff plan and implement programs and workshops in countries without an RLA, ILA, or ICHIP presence.  These programs include the innovative Judicial Studies Institute, based in       Puerto Rico, which strengthens judicial capacity throughout the Western Hemisphere; religious freedom programs that promote the protection of religious minorities; computer crime programs that work with partner governments to improve cyber security and information sharing; and strategic trade enforcement workshops that enhance the investigative and prosecutorial skills of foreign law enforcement agencies to prevent the proliferation of dangerous weapons and hazardous materials.

DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

OPDAT focuses on long-term comprehensive, sustainable reform. It accomplishes this mission through the development of sound legislative frameworks and programming consistent with international standards and criminal justice instruments (e.g., UN Convention against Corruption). Programs are tailored to host country legal infrastructures as well as international norms and standards. OPDAT coordinates these efforts with the U.S. interagency, the international community, and with relevant international experts.

BREADTH OF EXPERTISE

OPDAT enjoys unique access to some of the most experienced criminal justice experts in the nation. The Department of Justice, with over 5,000 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and over 600 Criminal Division attorneys, provides a primary source of expertise. Depending upon the needs of the host country, OPDAT also coordinates with other Department of Justice components, including the National Security Division; Civil Rights Division; Antitrust Division; Office of Justice Programs; National Advocacy Center; Federal Bureau of Prisons; ATF; DEA; FBI; and U.S. Marshals Service. In addition, OPDAT can utilize the law enforcement expertise of other federal departments, such as Treasury and Homeland Security, as well as state and local prosecutor offices. OPDAT also coordinates with the private bar, state and federal judiciaries, and professional organizations such as the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative. Further, OPDAT works collaboratively with international organizations, nongovernmental institutions, and international experts.

FUNDING

OPDAT’s programs are funded through interagency agree¬ments between OPDAT and these United States Government partners:

  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of Defense
Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT)
Leadership 
Faye S. Ehrenstamm
Director, OPDAT
Andrew P. Segrest
Deputy Director, OPDAT
George Huber
Deputy Director, OPDAT
Jill Rose
Deputy Director, OPDAT
Contact 
OPDAT switchboard
(202) 514-1323

OPDAT at a Glance

International Presence

  • Offices in approximately 50 Countries, serving 33 bi-lateral assistance programs and 20 regional capacity building missions
  • 65 Legal Advisors and International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Advisors supported by approximately 70 locally employed staff

OPDAT Core Competencies

  • Criminal procedure code reform
  • Criminal justice sector institutional improvement
  • Task force development
  • Capacity building of foreign prosecutors, investigators, and judges
  • Promoting the rule of law and regard for human rights

Technical assistance and case-based mentoring in the following areas:

  • Transnational organized crime, including gangs
  • Counterterrorism and counterterrorist financing
  • Foreign terrorist fighters (FTF)
  • Cybercrime and cybersecurity
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Human trafficking
  • Anti-corruption
  • Money laundering and asset forfeiture
  • Counter-narcotics
  • Judicial independence
  • Victim assistance and advocacy
  • Mutual Legal Assistance