As criminal investigations and prosecutions become increasingly transnational in nature, a greater number of Commonwealth prosecutions rely on assistance from foreign law enforcement agencies.
The international work of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP), which primarily relates to extradition and mutual assistance, is coordinated by the International Assistance and Specialist Agencies Practice Group (the “Practice Group”).
The Practice Group also prosecutes matters referred by specialist agencies and coordinates the CDPP’s proceeds of crime functions. Key referring agencies include the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Financial Security Authority.
What trends have been observed in recent prosecutions?
In its Annual Report 2017-18, a number of key trends and issues were identified and addressed by the Practice Group.
Serious non-compliance in the family day care sector
Working together with the Department of Education and Training, the Practice Group has worked to ensure the efficient prosecution of family day care service operators, educators and parents who engage in fraud.
Failure to vote in a federal election
By mutual arrangement with the CDPP, the Australian Electoral Commission carries out prosecutions for non-contested failure to vote matters.
An independent prosecution service for Norfolk Island
During 2017–18, the Practice Group partnered with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities to deliver prosecution services to Norfolk Island (a small Australian island in the South Pacific Ocean), advising on legislative reform of criminal laws applicable on the Island.
Which specialist agencies does the Practice Group work with?
Specialist agencies refer matters relating to a diverse range of Commonwealth criminal laws to the Practice Group, which are prosecuted in all jurisdictions throughout Australia. These agencies include:
|Australian Building and Construction Commission||Department of Health|
|Australian Bureau of Statistics||Department of Industry, Innovation and Science|
|Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity||Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities|
|Australian Communications and Media Authority||Department of Jobs and Small Business|
|Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission||Director of National Parks|
|Australian Electoral Commission||Fair Work Ombudsman|
|Australian Fisheries Management Authority||Foreign Investment Review Board|
|Australian Federal Police and state and territory police||Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority|
|Australian Financial Security Authority||Murray Darling Basin Authority|
|Australian Maritime Safety Authority||National Measurement Institute|
|Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority||National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority|
|Australian Skills Quality Authority||Office of the Australian Information Commissioner|
|Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman||Office of the Director of Military Prosecutions|
|Civil Aviation Safety Authority||Office of the National Data Commissioner|
|Clean Energy Regulator||Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations|
|Comcare||Sydney Harbour Federation Trust|
|Department of Defence||Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency|
|Department of Education and Training||Therapeutic Goods Administration (within the Department of Health)|
|Department of the Environment and Energy||Wine Australia|
The Practice Group proactively engages with partner agencies to strengthen relationships, foster expertise in areas relating to referrals, and to assist these agencies to achieve their strategic objectives.
International Assistance and the prosecution of transnational crime
International assistance, which includes extradition and mutual assistance, is vital for the effective investigation and prosecution of serious offences such as terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, bribery of foreign officials and money laundering offences.
Increasingly, the International Assistance and Specialist Agencies Practice Group seeks cooperation from countries to assist in prosecuting transnational crime and to apprehend and extradite fugitives.
Mutual assistance is a formal process underpinned by a number of bilateral treaties and multilateral conventions, which oblige the relevant parties to assist each other in relevant matters. Mutual assistance works in conjunction with international cooperation, which can be seen as a less formal method of assistance.
The Practice Group is responsible for drafting mutual assistance requests to foreign countries to support Australian criminal proceedings for federal offences where charges have been laid against the alleged offender.
The Attorney-General’s Department has sole responsibility for international extradition for all countries except New Zealand. The Practice Group’s role in extradition is confined to requesting that extradition be sought in Commonwealth matters and the execution of incoming requests from New Zealand.
In the case of outgoing extradition requests, the Practice Group prepares documents in support of requests for extradition in serious cases where a person is wanted for prosecution for an offence against Commonwealth law or to serve a sentence of imprisonment, and is found to be in a foreign country.
Incoming requests from New Zealand are made on a police-to-police basis and are referred to the Practice Group by the Australian Federal Police. The Practice Group appears on behalf of New Zealand in extradition proceedings before a magistrate to determine whether a person will be surrendered, and in any review or appeal arising from those proceedings.
Which other key agencies and partners does the Practice Group work with?
United States Partners
Australian Federal Police
The CDPP and Practice Group assist the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in their responsibilities for confiscating and recovering proceeds of crime.
The Group also supports international capacity building of AFP liaison officers, including providing training on the admissibility of foreign evidence. This helps to strengthen effective investigation and prosecution of transnational criminal activities.