DOJ/OPDAT Africa and the Middle East Programs
The legal and judicial landscape in Africa and the Middle East is diverse. The diversity is reflected in the nature and scope of OPDAT criminal justice assistance programs in the region. These programs range from reconstructing judicial institutions in post conflict environments, to promoting rule of law in countries that are striving to go beyond "developing" legal system status, to enhancing the capacity of fully developed legal systems to combat complex, sophisticated criminal activity. OPDAT programs in the region focus on corruption, organized crime, trafficking in persons, financial crimes, and terrorist financing. In virtually all venues there is a need to address the growing problem of transnational criminal activity.
OPDAT implements comprehensive criminal justice assistance programs through experienced US prosecutors serving as Legal Advisors in Djibouti, Iraq, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. OPDAT also conducts programs in other countries throughout the region, including Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Qatar, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
OPDAT's program in South Africa illustrates the value of a long term relationship with a host country. Over the past nine years OPDAT has provided legal expertise to South Africa's prosecution service in the areas of financial and economic crime, asset forfeiture, racketeering, and intellectual property. Working together at seminars and in shared offices, South African and US prosecutor teams have exchanged strategies and shared experiences. The result has been a dramatic increase in the capacity of the South African prosecution service to combat complex financial criminal activity and transnational crime and to divest significant amounts of illicit proceeds from criminal organizations and individuals.
In Iraq, OPDAT provides legal expertise to a well developed justice system as it transitions from a confession-based system to a process that is based on internationally recognized rule of law principles. OPDAT has five RLAs in Iraq; three are stationed in Baghdad two are deployed to Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraqi provinces. As members of an interdisciplinary reconstruction effort, OPDAT RLAs work with local police and judges to identify and overcome obstacles to effective, fair prosecutions. The RLAs stationed in Baghdad advise the US Embassy, Iraq courts, the Iraq Ministry of Justice, and the Iraq Higher Juridical Council on criminal justice, rule of law, and judicial capacity building.
In the region, as in other parts of the world, the challenge for OPDAT is to design and implement criminal justice assistance programs that are relevant and that will bring enduring value to criminal justice systems that may be challenged by corruption, transnational crime, failed infrastructure, or lack of resources. One of the OPDAT strategies is to encourage partnerships and cooperation not only among criminal justice components in the host country, but also among programmatic assistance partners. Especially throughout Africa, OPDAT works closely with the Department of State, US Agency for International Development, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Department of the Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance, Department of Defense, and its partner at the Justice Department, the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP).