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Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division Delivers Remarks at the Criminal Justice Forum for Asia and the Pacific



Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Vice Minister, your excellencies, and valued partners: good afternoon. I’d like to thank the Japanese Ministry of Justice and the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime for hosting the second meeting of the Criminal Justice Forum for Asia and the Pacific. I look forward to the conversations I plan to have with many of you this week. 

Our joint mission has never been more important. Modern technology has opened unprecedented channels of international trade and communication. Groundbreaking innovations have spread the promise of health, prosperity, and security. 

But with this progress comes new challenges. The same advances have given wrongdoers fresh avenues for pursuing theft and exploitation. Violent ideologies can proliferate and spread; threats are no longer contained by borders and oceans; and adversaries are as likely to be found in cyberspace as on the battlefield. The basic reality we confront today is that the security of each state increasingly depends on the security of all states – and that we in law enforcement must therefore supplement national vigilance with international cooperation.

International cooperation requires states to create effective Central Authorities for mutual legal assistance. These are the engines that breathe life into the international treaty framework and permit us to live up to our obligations. 

I’m pleased to note that three experts from the U.S. Central Authority – the Office of International Affairs (OIA) – are here to take part in the Working Group on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA). They include Vaughn Ary, OIA’s Director; Jeff Olson, the OIA Associate Director who oversees the team handling extradition and outgoing MLA matters with Asia and the Pacific; and John Riesenberg, the OIA Associate Director who oversees foreign MLA requests for cyber evidence from around the world.

With the dramatic increase in vital MLA requests for cyber evidence in recent years, the United States has recognized and is working to address the growing need for increased cooperation in this area, which is why we have established a dedicated team at OIA to handle such requests.

It is likewise why we have long supported the Council of Europe’s efforts to combat cybercrime through the Budapest Convention – the only multilateral international treaty focused on such. We have also supported the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention, which contains innovative tools specifically designed to help law enforcement obtain access to evidence held in other countries.

Finally, the U.S. Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, or CLOUD Act, authorizes the United States to enter into agreements with trusted, rights-respecting foreign partners whereby qualified orders for electronic evidence are submitted directly to service providers in the other country. We have signed CLOUD Act agreements with the United Kingdom and with Australia. We hope that these will serve as models for agreements with future partners and will speed access to electronic data held by U.S.-based global service providers.

We are also pleased to share our work on corrections. Alix McLearen is our representative on the Working Group on Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation. She has led the federal system’s reentry work and implementation of criminal justice reforms. Recently, our Attorney General appointed Dr. McLearen to run the National Institute of Corrections, which provides expertise across systems in the United States. She will share aggregated national perspectives while highlighting efforts in our federal system, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

On behalf of the entire United States Department of Justice, I thank you again for your partnership. I wish you a productive week and look forward to all that we will continue to achieve together in the months and years to come.

Updated February 13, 2023