In an increasingly interconnected world where criminal activities transcend borders, the role of law enforcement agencies extends far beyond domestic boundaries. At the forefront of this global battle against crime stands the Australian Federal Police (AFP), serving as Australia’s key agency in upholding internal stability and the rule of law internationally. This article explores the AFP’s global work.
International operations: A strategic approach
The AFP’s international operations are strategically designed to address the challenges posed by modern criminal environments. With investigations often having a global context, the AFP coordinates engagements with foreign law enforcement to protect prosecutions, facilitate extraditions, and uphold the reputation of Australia’s policing agencies.
The AFP states that its international role has three key parts:
- Capability development – helping to build the ability of international law enforcement agencies to combat crime that crosses international borders (transnational crime), and promoting regional stability.
- Collaboration – collaborating with international law enforcement agencies to drive investigations.
- Intelligence gathering – collecting and exchanging information to support domestic and international law enforcement efforts.
Spanning over 30 countries across various regions including the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific, the AFP’s international presence is extensive. Operational bases in key strategic locations such as Washington DC, Jakarta, Bangkok, London, and Canberra, ensure that the AFP is well-positioned to deliver operational outcomes that protect Australia’s national interests.
Building strong partnerships
Central to its international efforts is the cultivation of strong partnerships with key international and domestic stakeholders. These partnerships enable the AFP to combat serious organised crime and corruption, respond to emergencies, participate in peacekeeping operations, and provide capacity-building police partnership programs. Whether through coordinated police development assistance or contributing to Australia’s border management and security, these engagements are vital in addressing global threats collectively.
The AFP collaborates with global law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL and Europol, ensuring seamless collaboration on an international scale.
The AFP can contact INTERPOL for police-to-police enquiries and investigative requests including criminal history checks, missing persons overseas, background enquiries such as habitation checks and licence details, subscriber checks, travel movement checks, and enquiries in countries where the AFP doesn’t have a permanent presence.
Europol can be contacted for intelligence and help with investigations relating to European Union (EU) member states and third countries (countries outside the EU or European Economic Area).
Domestically, the AFP serves as the primary point of contact for Australian federal, state, and territory law enforcement agencies in matters concerning overseas law enforcement inquiries, international cooperation, and coordination arrangements.
Mutual assistance and extradition requests
Cross-border criminal cases often involve mutual assistance and extradition requests.
Australia can only accept extradition requests from declared extradition countries. Australia can make extradition requests of any country, but if it doesn’t have an extradition treaty with a specific country, they may not accept it under their domestic law.
Australia can make or receive a request for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters from any country. However, it has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) with some countries to facilitate this process.
Can the AFP carry out investigations in foreign countries?
The AFP can’t carry out inquiries in a foreign country without approval from that country’s government.
Sometimes, the AFP may be asked to assist overseas law enforcement with investigations involving an Australian citizen.
With crime becoming increasing transnational, the AFP has shifted to adopt a more global focus. Through leveraging both global and domestic partnerships, and engaging in strategic international operations, the AFP strives to safeguard Australia’s interests and uphold the rule of law internationally.