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

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

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

WHAT IS OPDAT?

Established in 1991, the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) promotes the rule of law and regard for human rights by reforming justice systems and supporting professional and accountable institutions consistent with international norms and standards.  At the same time, OPDAT builds the capacity of our foreign partners to combat transnational crime and terrorism before those threats reach our shores. 

OPDAT deploys experienced prosecutors to U.S. embassies around the world to serve as long-term Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs), short-term Intermittent Legal Advisors (ILAs), and International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Advisors (ICHIPs) to enhance cooperation in transnational cases and to help partners fight crime in furtherance of U.S. national security. 

Through case-based mentoring and expert legal advice, these DOJ Advisors work with their foreign counterparts to strengthen capabilities to investigate and prosecute transnational organized crime, terrorism, corruption, money laundering, economic crimes, human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics trafficking, and emerging transnational criminal activities such as cyber-based fraud schemes and intellectual property violations, including those stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FUNDING

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

  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Department of Defense

SUPPORT OF U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY GOALS

OPDAT draws on USG and Department of Justice resources and expertise to develop 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, Prosecutor General’s Office, or to prosecutors, judges, and other justice sector personnel.  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 approximately 70 RLAs, ILAs, and ICHIPs serving in approximately 50 countries on bilateral and regional capacity building programs.

In addition to programs 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 builds judicial capacity throughout the Western Hemisphere; the Battlefield Evidence Initiative, which ensures that enemy material / battlefield evidence is available to prosecutors investigating and prosecuting foreign terrorist fighters; and the Global Anti-Corruption Rapid Response Fund, which provides technical assistance and/or case-based mentoring at short notice to foreign partners seeking to expand their capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption, kleptocracy, and related offenses, and to recover assets. 

REFORM STRATEGY

OPDAT focuses on long-term comprehensive, sustainable justice 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 and the international community.

BREATH AND DEPTH 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; Environment and Natural Resources 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.  Finally, OPDAT works collaboratively with multilateral organizations, nongovernmental institutions, and international experts.

    Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT)
    Leadership 
    Faye S. Ehrenstamm
    Director, OPDAT
    Erik Peterson
    Principal Deputy 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 bi-lateral assistance programs and regional capacity building missions
    • Approximately 70 Legal Advisors and International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Advisors supported by approximately 70 local 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:
      • Counter-transnational organized crime, including gangs
      • Counterterrorism and counter terrorist financing
      • Anti-corruption
      • Anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture
      • Human smuggling and trafficking
      • Foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs)
      • Cybercrime and cybersecurity
      • Intellectual property rights
      • Counter-narcotics
      • Judicial independence
      • Victim assistance and advocacy