What is the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT)
OPDAT Mission: To develop and administer technical assistance designed to enhance the capabilities of foreign justice sector institutions and their law enforcement personnel, so they can effectively partner with the Department of Justice in combating terrorism, trafficking in persons, organized crime, corruption, and financial crimes.
OPDAT carries out justice sector institution building, including technical assistance and skills development support, to enhance foreign justice sector cooperation
The rule of law and the rights of individuals are the cornerstones of any free society. Crime and misuse of the public trust undermine confidence in government and discredit free market economies. The effective and fair administration of justice offers to the state and its citizens the greatest protection from lawlessness and support for basic human rights, and, when extant in foreign countries, provides the U.S. with a stronger base of foreign cooperation in the fight against organized crime, illegal narcotics, and terrorism.
Established in 1991, OPDAT draws on Department of Justice resources and expertise to strengthen foreign criminal justice sector institutions and enhance the administration of justice abroad. OPDAT supports the United States and the Department's law enforcement objectives and priorities by preparing foreign counterparts to cooperate more fully and effectively with the United States in combating terrorism, trafficking in persons, organized crime, corruption, financial crimes, and other transnational crime. It does so by encouraging legislative and justice sector reform in countries with inadequate laws; by improving the skills of foreign prosecutors, investigators and judges; and by promoting the rule of law and regard for human rights
In FY 2012, OPDAT had 48 RLAs in 32 countries. RLAs are experienced federal or state prosecutors stationed in a host country for at least one year where they provide full-time advice and technical assistance in establishing fair and professional justice sector institutions and practices. OPDAT also conducts discrete short and mid-term assistance programs, ranging from one week to six months, which focus on a specific aspect of criminal justice. These are implemented by Intermittent Legal Advisors (ILAs), who like the RLAs, are experienced federal or state prosecutors. In FY 2012, OPDAT conducted 588 assistance programs involving 92 countries and managed over $72.9 million in State Department, USAID, and Department of Defense funding.
OPDAT is a forum for comparative law dialogue aiding efforts to promote international legal assistance.
OPDAT acts as host to hundreds of international visitors who each year come to the United States to gain an appreciation of the legal system of one of the world's oldest democracies. Through OPDAT efforts, overseas guests are offered professional programs in the form of specially tailored presentations and training workshops supplemented by foreign language translation.
OPDAT serves as the Justice Department's liaison between various private and public agencies that sponsor visits to the United States by foreign officials who are interested in a close examination of the United States' legal system. These visitors come from a variety of backgrounds and interests. Some are newly-elected cabinet members, others are judges and prosecutors studying ways of fostering democratic institutions in their own countries. Many international visitors receive presentations about the U.S. criminal justice system in English, Spanish, or Russian from OPDAT attorneys. Visitors with specific interests are given the opportunity to meet with practitioners in more specialized components of the Department. Meetings requested often relate to issues of money laundering, organized crime, asset forfeiture, narcotic and other dangerous drugs, international judicial assistance/extradition, ethics and public corruption, juvenile justice and delinquency protection, and civil rights. Despite differences in culture and circumstance, many visitors say their new appreciation for the ideas, institutions and practices of the U.S. legal system fosters international judicial cooperation and provides insight for development and reform efforts in their own lands. In FY 2012, OPDAT arranged meetings for 2,263 visitors with DOJ Attorneys investing 683 hours of their time participating in these international visitors programs.