This unit deals with international criminal law, including:
- European Arrest Warrants (EAWs),
- extradition (handing over of a criminal to the country where the crime was committed)
- requests for mutual legal assistance.
It also deals with criminal assets seizing cases referred to the Office of the DPP.
European Arrest Warrants
A court in one EU member state can ask a court in another member state to issue an arrest warrant for someone wanted in connection with a crime.
The International Unit in the Office of the DPP deals with outgoing requests to the EU where an accused person is wanted in Ireland for a crime to be prosecuted here.
For example, if the Gardaí want to arrest someone living in another EU member state, they can ask the Office of the DPP to apply to the High Court for a European Arrest Warrant (EAW). This is then sent to the country where the person is living. EAWs have been sought for a wide range of serious offences including:
- sexual offences
- drugs offences
- serious assaults
If someone is living outside the European Union, the Extradition Unit of An Garda Síochána can ask the DPP to issue an extradition request. This is a request to hand over a criminal to the country where the crime was committed. These requests are then sent through diplomatic channels to the relevant country.
At present Ireland has two-way legal agreements called bi-lateral extradition treaties with the United States of America, Hong Kong and Australia. Ireland has also ratified (officially approved) the European Convention on Extradition. This means that criminals can be extradited to the country where the crime was committed to do one of the following:
- stand trial
- face sentencing after conviction
- serve a sentence already handed down by a country’s court.
The International Unit in the Office of the DPP deals with outgoing extradition requests where an accused person is wanted in Ireland for a crime to be prosecuted here.
Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Requests
Under the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008, Ireland can provide mutual legal assistance to, and ask for mutual legal assistance from, other countries in criminal investigations or criminal proceedings. For example, the Gardaí might want to ask the relevant authorities in another country to interview witnesses, or to provide details about an individual involved in a criminal investigation. These details might include:
- bank records
- police records
- social media posts of an individual involved in a criminal investigation
The Gardaí or Revenue Commissioners send requests for mutual legal assistance to the International Unit in the Office of the DPP for approval. Once finalised and signed, these requests are then sent to the Central Authority in the Department of Justice and Equality, which then sends them to the relevant country.
Criminal Assets Seizing
Taking the assets of convicted criminals can be an effective way to reduce criminal activity.
The International Unit advises and supports prosecutors in applications to confiscate or freeze criminal assets both in Ireland and abroad. Together with other government departments and agencies, the unit also reviews the procedures and structures for criminal asset seizure in the State.
Prosecution Policy and Research Unit
The responsibilities of this unit in the Office of the DPP include:
- developing policy responses to a range of issues both internally and externally with others involved in criminal justice, both nationally and internationally
- providing a research service to prosecutors
- managing and developing the Office’s library
- developing and implementing knowledge and information management strategies.
Victims Liaison Unit
The Victims Liaison Unit (VLU) is responsible for making sure the Office of the DPP meets its obligations in respect of the rights, support and protection of victims as set out in the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017.
The Act defines a victim of crime as someone who has suffered physical, mental or emotional harm, or economic loss, which was directly caused by an offence. This includes family members of someone whose death was directly caused by a criminal offence and who have suffered harm as a result of that person’s death.
The work of the VLU covers a range of areas:
- When a decision is made to prosecute: the VLU will make sure that victims of crime have the information they need to take part in the criminal prosecution process and the benefit of the protections that are available to them.
- When a decision is made not to prosecute: the VLU will, on written request, give the reason for the decision not to prosecute. If a victim of crime wants to have the decision not to prosecute reviewed, the VLU will arrange for a review to be carried out.
- The VLU provides a telephone information service for victims. However, for reasons of security and confidentiality, the unit cannot discuss the details of any case over the telephone with victims of crime.
- The VLU provides training on issues affecting victims of crime to staff, State solicitors, prosecution counsel, Gardaí, the Law Society, Bar Council, non-governmental organisations such as victim support groups and others.
The VLU regularly meets with non-government victim support organisations and takes part in inter-departmental (with departments such as the Department of Justice and Equality) working groups on behalf of the Office.