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Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Closing Remarks at the Ministerial on International Cooperation



Ladies and gentlemen, valued partners, honored guests: good afternoon.  I’d like to thank His Royal Highness’s  government and the people of Morocco for hosting this important forum and all of you here today for your participation in this productive dialogue.  It has been an honor to join so many distinguished colleagues, inspiring leaders and dedicated public servants for this vital conversation.  And it continues to be a privilege for my American colleagues and me to stand with the members of this gathering as we work to strengthen law enforcement efforts, to bolster critical institutions and to foster stability and opportunity for people around the world.

One message is perfectly clear from our discussions today: as our nations have grown more interconnected and interdependent, our joint mission has become more important than ever.  Modern technology has opened channels of international trade, commerce and communication as never before.  Groundbreaking innovations have spread the promise of health, prosperity and security.  And broadened perspectives have nurtured a deeper sensitivity to the struggles, needs and aspirations of people far removed from ourselves.  These remarkable developments have helped to widen the circle of opportunity and given us the tools to achieve a more just and peaceful future.

But with this progress comes new challenges, as many of you have noted today.  The same advances that have transformed how we power our cities, invest our capital and store our knowledge 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.  From terrorism to counterfeiting; from racketeering to human trafficking; and from hacking to money laundering, the challenges of our time are diffuse in nature and transnational in scope.  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, as we have discussed in this conference, requires states to create effective Central Authorities for mutual legal assistance and extradition.  These are the engines that breathe life into the international treaty framework, permit us to live up to our obligations and help us to protect our citizens.  Our highest priority, after all, is the safety of our citizens and the security of our nations – and with the help of partnerships like those we have strengthened today, we are making significant headway together. 

One example of the essential nature of our cooperation involves foreign terrorist fighters.  None of us can combat this problem alone.  In the United States, we have markedly enhanced our ability to prevent individuals from taking up with groups like ISIL.  We’re committed to fulfilling our obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which, as you know, requires countries to assist one another in stemming the foreign fighter threat through measures like securing borders, sharing information and enacting appropriate criminal laws.  But the international nature of this threat demands an international response.  Just last month, for instance, we brought charges against a Kosovan man in Malaysia who allegedly provided ISIL with personal data about American military personnel that he had stolen from hacked government databases.  With the help of Malaysian authorities, we were able to detain the suspect and we’re currently seeking his extradition to the United States for trial.

As that case demonstrates, rogue actors can do real and lasting harm with little more than an internet connection, which is why I’ve made cybersecurity one of my top priorities as attorney general.  Hacking and cyber theft are crimes that link us together by transcending geographic boundaries and as a result, they require concerted global actions.  That’s why the Department of Justice is not only growing our domestic defenses against cybercrime, but also pledging our assistance and expertise to other countries, notably through the creation of a cyber unit in our Central Authority – our Office of International Affairs – that is dedicated to working with your Central Authorities to process your requests for electronic evidence.  Together, we can deprive cyber criminals of their misguided sense of impunity and make clear that they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

That action is also necessary against corrupt authority figures around the globe – from high-level government officials to organizers of worldwide football – who believe that they are above the law and that they can use international boundaries to hide their ill-gotten gains.  The Department of Justice is committed to working with other countries to bring down bribery and corruption schemes wherever they arise – no matter how secretive, no matter how sophisticated and no matter how sprawling.  Since 2009, we have participated in the three Arab Forums on Asset Recovery, as well as the Ukraine Form on Asset Recovery held in London last year.  In 2010, the Department of Justice launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which has helped return stolen assets to their rightful owners: the citizens of the countries where the corruption took place.  Just last year, we obtained the forfeiture of more than $480 million through a case involving former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha – the largest forfeiture ever secured through a kleptocracy action.  We recently augmented these efforts with the creation of special kleptocracy squads in our Federal Bureau of Investigation.  And we continue to work closely with bodies like the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative and the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime in support of international criminal investigations.

Of course, all of our efforts rest on the success of our networks of Central Authorities in facilitating mutual assistance; apprehending fugitives and– when appropriate – extraditing wrongdoers.  I am proud to report that here, too, the United States has been deeply engaged and dedicated to modernizing our practices.  In recent months, with the vocal support of President Obama, the Department of Justice has significantly expanded our Office of International Affairs, giving our colleagues overseas more opportunities to connect with our Department of Justice experts, investigators and prosecutors.  We’ve simplified the process whereby foreign authorities can obtain evidence from the United States, saving critical time and streamlining complex procedures.  And we’ve joined with the U.S. State Department to launch the Global Central Authorities Initiative – which has helped bring us together here today and which is dedicated to working with countries around the world to create or expand the capacity of Central Authorities responsible for providing international legal support in criminal investigations and prosecutions.  These are all vital steps towards closing jurisdictional gaps, improving international cooperation and promoting the rule of law.

Over the course of our time together in Rabat, we have discussed our common challenges with clear eyes and honest candor.  As our discussion today shows, none of us has any illusions that meeting the unique threats of the 21st century will be easy, or that our path forward will be straight or smooth.  The problems we see are complex, the adversaries we confront are fast-moving and the threats we face constantly adapt and evolve.  But as we join with each other here today – in this community of nations – I am even more confident that we can navigate the long road ahead.  By standing together in support of what is right; by marching together in the spirit of progress; and by collaborating with one another in the pursuit of our common goals, we can expand and bolster the promise of justice for all of our peoples across all of the world.

On behalf of the entire United States Department of Justice, I thank you again for your partnership.  I am grateful for your commitment and friendship in this mission.  And I look forward to all that we will continue to achieve together in the months and years to come.   

Updated September 28, 2016