OPDAT has a long history working with Albania to improve its ability to fight corruption and organized crime: OPDAT was instrumental in establishing the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office (SCPO) in 2004, which has exclusive jurisdiction for the most important organized crime and trafficking cases, and supported the removal of immunity for judges and other high level officials in 2012. OPDAT also supported the development of eight Joint Investigative Units across the country. OPDAT is currently assisting Albania in its judicial reform efforts towards EU accession. These efforts have included the passage of 58 amendments, such as changes to the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Judicial Council, Prosecution system, and the creation of an independent anti-corruption prosecution and court with vetted judges and prosecutors- a first in a sitting European democracy. OPDAT collaborates with its sister-agency, ICITAP, to digitize criminal records, case files, and statistical information, to prosecutors’ offices throughout Albania, and is supporting efforts to develop Albania’s recently established Victim Assistance Coordinators.
Balkans Regional Counter Terrorism
OPDAT is implementing a regional program in the Balkans to address terrorism and the foreign terrorist fighter issue. Through this program, OPDAT provides case-based counter-terrorism (CT) mentoring to investigators, prosecutors, and judges from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and other countries in the region. Training for judges, prosecutors and police cover subjects such as pretrial procedures, handling of evidence at trial, corruption and abuse of office, asset forfeiture, witness protection, financial crime investigation, international jurisdiction and international criminal law, as well as many others. Based at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, the program sponsors regional workshops, counter-terrorism trial attendance, and one-on-one case-based mentoring with Balkan prosecutors. OPDAT also works with criminal justice institutions to advance the Good Practices of the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Rabat Memorandum and other GCTF documents, to enhance the institutional capabilities within the region to combat transnational terrorism. Since the initiation of the Balkans Regional CT program in 2014, the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia have obtained over 100 guilty dispositions in foreign fighter related cases.
OPDAT has led U.S. Government justice sector reform efforts in Bosnia since 1999. The comprehensive OPDAT program addresses legislative reform and capacity building in the adversarial system for prosecutors, judges and police. The program goal is to enhance the overall ability of justice operators to investigate and prosecute the growing problems of organized crime, corruption, and terrorism. A further goal, unique to the region, is to promote the capacity of the judicial system to prosecute war crimes by coordinating efforts with the international community. OPDAT provides case mentoring on complex crimes such as terrorism, human trafficking, gender violence, and organized crime, as well as programs for the judiciary and a court monitoring project.
United States European Command (EUCOM)
OPDAT began its program at the United States European Command (EUCOM) in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2011. The program is part of the Interagency Partnering Directorate (J9), created in 2009 to promote peace and stability by serving as a bridge between EUCOM and the public and private sectors. The program collaborates with EUCOM in its efforts to address international and national security threats. The RLA serves as a Department of Justice advisor, providing the perspective of a prosecutor to EUCOM efforts. Additionally, OPDAT serves as an advisor and resource to entities such as the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and other centers in the region. As part of the EUCOM J9, OPDAT engages with U.S. Government departments and agencies, the international community, non-governmental organizations, academia, and the private corporate sector on criminal justice sector development issues as part of a “whole of government” approach to strengthen regional security and stability.
The OPDAT program in Tbilisi, Georgia began in 1999 to provide technical assistance on the implementation of its 2009 Criminal Procedural Code (CPC), specialized training on complex cases and trial advocacy, and prosecutorial reform and legislative drafting assistance. Specifically, OPDAT works with the Government of Georgia to conduct multi-disciplinary trainings related to the CPC such as investigative and trial advocacy techniques, building prosecutable cases, and rules of evidence. OPDAT is also implementing a program for Georgian criminal investigators on voluntary witness interviewing, which includes a train-the-trainer model to groom a cadre of future instructors. OPDAT has supported efforts to develop sentencing guidelines, improved definitions of the elements of crimes, due process guarantees for administrative violations, and an opinion writing manual for the judiciary. The office is currently implementing a Victim and Witness Assistance project based on recognized best practices. In 2009, OPDAT established a successful criminal case Court Monitoring Project in Tbilisi that has, to date, expanded to Kutaisi, Rustavi, and Mtskheta. The monitoring allows for a “before and after” perspective on how court practices have evolved in relation to the CPC, and focuses on the conduct of all courtroom officials and staff. The results are shared with Georgia’s MOJ, prosecutorial service, and judiciary, and are an effective tool in focusing training and mentoring and ultimately shaping the justice sector practices. This project has also provided valuable insight to the high profile cases that influence the country’s political dynamics.
Since 2015, OPDAT’s RLA in Bucharest, Romania serves as the Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator (IPLEC) working on intellectual property and computer crimes issues in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The program is currently developing a network of intellectual property prosecutors and law enforcement officials who are institutionalizing best practices and case coordination strategies to fight transnational organized criminal activity. Development of this network has included participation of various FBI Legats and the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. The IPLEC promotes this network through capacity building of the European Intellectual Property Prosecutors (EIPPN) on cyber-related intellectual property cases. The program also includes case-based mentoring of leading prosecutors in the region who undertake challenging transnational cases. The IPLEC conducts train-the-trainer programs for selected members of the EIPPN and other related law enforcement bodies so that they can deliver similar instruction to a broader audience at schools around the region. To address the demand side of the IPR problem in the region, the IPLEC program develops youth education programs to foster greater respect for IP rights and awareness of crimes involving computers and the internet.
The OPDAT program in Kosovo strengthens criminal justice institutions and national security interests in the areas of complex crimes, anti-corruption, victims’ rights, counterterrorism, and integration of the parallel Serbian justice system in Northern Kosovo. OPDAT works closely with the special prosecutors and counterterrorism investigators to strengthen their abilities to investigate and prosecute terrorism and foreign fighter cases through training, mentoring and advising. Through collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, OPDAT supports legislative reform efforts, such as the adoption of a foreign fighter law. OPDAT has developed a model program for the region in the area of domestic and gender violence, as well as victim assistance through training, bench books for judges, and mentoring. Additional focus areas include non-confiscation-based forfeiture, disciplinary measures for justice operators, and criminal procedure.
Since 2003, OPDAT-Serbia has focused on building Serbia’s capacity to prosecute corruption, war crimes, organized crime, complex financial crimes, human and narcotics trafficking, and domestic violence. OPDAT works closely with Serbian justice operators, providing training, technical, legislative and regional cooperation assistance. In support of Serbia’s 2011 implementation of a new Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), OPDAT training reinforces the new roles of justice operators and legislative advocacy efforts promote harmonized laws, regulations, and internal procedures related to the CPC. OPDAT continues to assist Serbia in their anticorruption and organized crime efforts and brings together representatives of various agencies such as prosecutors, criminal investigation police, tax police, financial intelligence analysts, border police, internal controls, and customs to promote information sharing and a task force approach. In 2016 OPDAT provided assistance to MOJ with adoption of the new Law on Organized Crime, Corruption and Terrorism (which introduces task forces, liaison officers and financial forensic experts), the new domestic violence law and amendments to the Law on Asset Forfeiture and the Criminal Code (which expanded the set of criminal offences with corruption element). The law on organized crime will enter into force in March 2018.
The Western Balkans Regional Platform (WBRP) program originally focused on EU accession criteria and the development of regional capacities to address the increasingly transnational activities of Balkan criminal groups. The program has expanded its focus to developing and improving a Balkan Archive and a Regional Manual, Instructor and Institution and Training Academy Development, European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) curriculum development and training, and to increase the use of follow-the-money strategies in corruption investigations in the Western Balkans. Current project goals include expanding the scope of the regional manual; improving the design, delivery, and training methodologies of regional instructors and training institutions; designing and delivering ECHR courses using OPDAT trained legal professionals from the region to meet and increase awareness of ECHR obligations; and to design and deliver an anti-corruption/financial crimes course. These goals build upon OPDAT’s prior work with a multi-disciplinary group of police, prosecutors, advocates, judges and academy officials from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to develop a standardized ECHR curriculum for justice operators. Additionally, OPDAT is working to produce a manual containing the region’s criminal procedures pertaining to the use of special investigative measures, plea bargaining, arrest and detention. The manual will also include the region’s criminal code provisions related to organized crime, money laundering, and human rights, as well as regional practices with respect to asset forfeiture and mutual legal assistance.
Since 2005, OPDAT has assisted the Ukraine in the reform and development of their criminal justice system, focusing on organized crime, financial crime, human trafficking and corruption, all in the context of achieving interna¬tional and European criminal procedure standards. OPDAT provides expert input on existing and proposed legislation, mentors prosecutors and investigators, and offers expertise in establishing more effective criminal justice structures and operations. Following the Maidan events, OPDAT played a major role in drafting and supporting the adoption of an anti-corruption package that included the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), National Agency on Prevention Corruption (NAPC), and a specialized Anti-Corruption Unit at the Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO). OPDAT works with the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice (MOJ), and these newly created entities through capacity building in international legal assistance, investigative techniques, corruption, financial crimes, and ethical standards. OPDAT also conducts separate training programs focused on evidence rules, trial skills, and plea agreements for justice sector officials. Over 500 prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges per year have participated and OPDAT’s train-the-trainer program has created a cadre of local Ukrainian practitioner-trainers who co-teach these programs. ODAT previously supported the Ukraine’s efforts to develop, pass, and implement its post-Soviet Criminal Procedure Code in 2012.