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Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks on International Legal Cooperation in the Americas


Bogota, ,

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Ladies and gentlemen; distinguished guests; leaders and citizens – thank you so much for such a warm welcome.  It is a privilege to join you here in Colombia and a great pleasure to be in Bogota this afternoon.  I would like to thank President [Juan Manuel] Santos and Minister of Justice [Yesid] Reyes for their hospitality, support and steadfast collaboration.  I would also like to recognize Assistant Secretary General [Nestor] Mendez and the Organization of American States for their vital role in convening this important gathering.  And I’d like to thank all of you here today – including my colleagues, the heads of delegation – for your partnership, your passion and your ongoing dedication to the cause of justice.

When these meetings began nearly two decades ago – with REMJA I in Buenos Aires – they were intended to create an opportunity to bring Justice Ministers of the Americas together to promote legal cooperation, to institutionalize dialogue and to make possible the kind of joint efforts and coordinated action that our nations need in order to promote security, opportunity and justice.  As our hemisphere – and our world – grows more interdependent and interconnected than ever before, that kind of collaboration has become increasingly important.  The threats that we face are no longer restrained by borders or oceans, or limited to one country or region.  And the problems impacting one nation can easily affect us all.  From corruption and kleptocracy that causes people to lose confidence in institutions of government, to organized criminal enterprises like human trafficking rings that impact our citizens’ sense of security, we are faced with global challenges that require a truly global response.

I am proud to say that, in recent years, we have been able to make vital progress together – and the United States has demonstrated our commitment to this effort.  From a series of forums on asset recovery beginning in 2009 and the launch of our Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative in 2010, to our investigation into bribery and corruption in the world of organized football earlier this year, we have made clear that no powerful association is immune from legal challenge and no individual is untouchable by the forces of justice.  Over the last five years, our Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section has opened cases involving hundreds of millions of dollars in criminal proceeds.  Just last year, the United States established a dedicated Kleptocracy force within our Federal Bureau of Investigation to vigorously investigate instances of corruption around the globe.  And we are working closely with partner nations and organizations like the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime to support investigations against criminals worldwide and to bring down criminal networks that seek to exploit our most vulnerable citizens.

We are also expanding our ability to take on crimes that occur in cyberspace – a new and evolving issue that is one of my top priorities as Attorney General.  At the United States Department of Justice, we’ve created a cyber-unit in our Office of International Affairs to focus exclusively on responding to and executing requests for electronic evidence from foreign authorities.  We’re also drawing on the experience of prosecutors with deep expertise in the law, policy and practice of cybersecurity to prepare for and prevent future attacks and intrusions.  And through the Budapest Convention – a vital instrument devoted to cooperation in these efforts that is being joined by countries around the world – we are building a strengthened international network to fight crimes like computer hacking, fraud and child pornography and to combat related criminal activity from organized crime to terrorism.

Beyond these efforts, the United States is proud to work alongside all of you to bolster international infrastructure and support the rule of law.  In recent months and years, we have developed strong mechanisms for providing mutual legal assistance – from networks of Central Authorities that facilitate the essential day-to-day exchange of evidence, to enhanced police-to-police information sharing.  By taking steps to significantly grow our Office of International Affairs, we intend to reinforce areas of focus and improve our ability to engage efficiently and effectively with our counterparts around the globe.  And through our Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, or OPDAT, our legal advisors are working with international partners – including many of the nations represented here today – to expand capacity, enhance cooperation and provide technical assistance in relation to matters from money laundering to terrorism to human trafficking.  With our joint efforts with all of you, this community of nations is sending a clear message throughout the hemisphere and around the world: we stand together in the fight for global security, opportunity and justice. 

Of course, I have no illusions that progress will be easy.  The international nature of our work presents unique and complicated challenges and the evolving nature of so many threats makes victory a moving target.  But with the support and partnership of the nations and organizations represented here today, I am confident that – whatever obstacles we may face, we can build the stronger nations, the more empowered communities and the more just global society that all our citizens deserve.

Today, as this extraordinary gathering comes together once again, I am proud to join all of you in the work of our time.  I am eager to examine our shared efforts and promote our common cause.  And I look forward to all that we will continue to achieve, through these opportunities for dialogue and throughout the regions we represent, in the months and years ahead.

Updated October 15, 2015