Skip to main content

Asia and the Pacific Region


OPDAT’s Asia programs are diverse and focus on combating various crimes, including terrorism and terrorist financing, money laundering, corruption, cybercrime, trafficking-in-persons (TIP), gender-based violence, wildlife trafficking, and other transnational crimes, as well as promoting criminal procedure amendments and institutional reforms of the prosecution services and law enforcement entities. The programs, funded by the U.S. Department of State, vary due to differences in the host country’s justice sector capacities and the nature of the bilateral relationships. 

Selected Programs

Regional: Southeast Asia is both a key consumer of certain illegal wildlife products and a key supplier of others. In June 2018, an OPDAT Regional Resident Legal Advisor (RLA) program was established in Laos to counter wildlife trafficking  in Southeast Asia.  In addition to Laos, the RLA works in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to train prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officers on skills needed to combat wildlife crimes. The RLA focuses on encouraging money laundering charges in prosecutions and bringing government official counterparts from various countries in the region together to encourage cooperation. The RLA also works with governments to improve legislation to be compliant under the Convention on the Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.

In addition, OPDAT has a South Asia Regional program that hosts regional capacity building events addressing transnational crimes, including narcotics and corruption, that affect Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Program activities seek to facilitate regional coordination and inspire legislative and regulatory reforms to strengthen public confidence and transparency in government systems, practices, and policies. This regional program also supports the empowerment of women in the justice sector, specifically judges and prosecutors, through  sponsorship of their participation in professional conferences.

Counterproliferation: OPDAT assists in preventing the accumulation and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and illicit transfers of conventional weapons in the Philippines. Through capacity-building programs, technical assistance, and mentoring, OPDAT closely coordinates with U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Philippines Strategic Trade Management Office to combatthe financing of weapons proliferation, strengthen export controls, and  build the capacity of the Philippines to prevent the transfer of sensitive technology to certain countries in East Asia.

Bangladesh: OPDAT conducts frequent judicial and prosecutorial skills-development programs to strengthen the Government of Bangladesh’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing efforts. OPDAT also supports the Bangladeshi justice sector in addressing complex and transnational crimes, including terrorism, public corruption, narcotics trafficking, and TIP, and works to strengthen Bangladesh’s ability to prosecute gender-based and domestic violence.    

Burma: The 2021 military coup disrupted OPDAT’s ability to partner with the government. However, since the Spring of 2023, OPDAT has developed partnerships with Burmese non-governmental legal entities to  strengthen the judicial capacity of pro-democracy actors,  improve courtroom professionalism, and promote rule of law through legal education.

China: OPDAT facilitates cooperation between U.S. and Chinese criminal justice sector stakeholders in combatting transnational crimes, including drug trafficking and money laundering, through case-based mentoring, consultations, presentations, and other opportunities to exchange ideas and best practices.  OPDAT fosters dialogue and promotes long-term criminal justice reform consistent with international standards by providing expertise on criminal law and procedure, rule of law matters, anti-corruption, and law enforcement cooperation to jurists, academics, defense lawyers, law students and, when possible, Chinese government officials.. The RLA also serves as a China subject matter expert for U.S. authorities, including at the U.S. Embassy.

Indonesia: OPDAT works with police, prosecutors, judges, and other key governmental agencies to enhance their capabilities to combat transnational crimes, such as corruption, cybercrime, money laundering, TIP, and terrorism. Through OPDAT’s assistance, Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office has established special units on cybercrime and terrorism. Also, with the support of OPDAT, Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission recovered $6 million in 2022 in corruption proceeds that had been laundered from Indonesia to the United States. OPDAT has been a leader in bringing about institutional changes in court security, including the passage of the Supreme Court’s first regulation on courthouse security, issued in November 2020. Other OPDAT engagement focuses significantly on legal reform to strengthen prosecutorial and judicial institutions, including assistance in seeking to update Indonesia’s criminal procedure code. Additional OPDAT priorities include improved international cooperation, compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions, inter-agency information sharing, and trainings that provide for sustained capacity building and institutional development.

Malaysia: OPDAT’s Malaysia-led, U.S.-enabled counterterrorism capacity building efforts emphasize improved in-country and regional coordination between police and prosecutors; evidence-driven investigations resulting in successful prosecutions; effective, efficient, and fair trials and appellate proceedings; strengthened court security measures; and justice-sector reforms enhancing asset forfeiture and border security regimes.

Maldives: OPDAT promotes long-term stability and criminal justice reform in the Maldives by building capacity to combat transnational crime, corruption, terrorism, and other complex  crimes, developing comprehensive judicial reform, and enhancing mutual legal assistance capabilities. OPDAT regularly advises on policy issues, provides case-based mentoring on pending investigations and prosecutions, and develops focused programming to enhance long-term capacity.

Nepal: OPDAT works with Nepal’s criminal justice sector on multiple rule of law issues seeking to promote a fair and functional criminal justice system to strengthen Nepal’s young democracy.  OPDAT targets its capacity building on cybercrime, money laundering and other financial crimes, trafficking in persons, wildlife and drugs, and other transnational crimes. OPDAT focuses on supporting Nepal in implementing sentence remission/plea provisions in multiple substantive criminal laws to address prison overcrowding, substantial case backlogs, and other inefficiencies by spearheading the drafting and adoption of guidelines requested by prosecutors and investigators. OPDAT also works on legislative reform with the Government of Nepal and other partners regarding cybercrime and digital evidence.

Philippines: OPDAT routinely conducts trainings on anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing for judges, and is working to develop a network of prosecutors, investigators, and judges who are experienced in counter-terrorism work. This effort is designed to fully implement the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a comprehensive reform of counterterrorism law that was the result of a yearslong OPDAT initiative. OPDAT also seeks to improve judicial security by supporting and guiding efforts to create a Philippine Marshals Service. Further, OPDAT provides assistance on cybercrime legislation and training. In addition, OPDAT has led more than a dozen programs over the past three years to combat TIP and helped develop the curriculum for teaching cybercrime investigation at criminology schools. Relating to legislative reforms, OPDAT works with drafting committees on reform efforts aimed at removing barriers to effective investigation and prosecution, including proposed legislation to authorize consensual recordings.

Sri Lanka: OPDAT works to improve the ability of Sri Lankan authorities to investigate and prosecute corruption and money laundering cases successfully, as well as advance mutual legal assistance. OPDAT provides a wide variety of technical assistance, including case-based mentoring of prosecutors and investigators, as well as supporting institutional reforms.

Updated February 7, 2024