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International legal assistance

Our aid-funded work in the Indo-Pacific helps combat people smuggling, human trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and corruption. In the Pacific, we work with countries to strengthen domestic crime and policing laws.

We support law and justice priorities in Papua New Guinea through our institutional partnerships with Papua New Guinean agencies and an officer posted to the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.

We also have two officers posted to the Australian Embassy in Jakarta partnering with Indonesia on terrorism and transnational crime issues.

Our work contributes to building more effective governance—vital to promoting economic development and poverty reduction.

What we do

We work with countries to develop effective laws and practices to combat crime by:

  • Criminalising the conduct: We work with countries to develop laws to implement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and Protocols (including people smuggling and human trafficking), the UN Convention Against Corruption, UN conventions on terrorism and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations on anti-money laundering, proceeds of crime and counter-financing of terrorism. In the Pacific we assist with domestic crime and policing laws.
  • Following the money trail: Transnational crime and corruption is driven by profit. That's why we work with countries to ‘follow the money trail' and strengthen anti-money laundering and proceeds of crime laws and practices to attack the financial incentive for crime. Stopping the flow of profits from crime is a vital crime-fighting tool.
  • Getting the evidence and offender: Successful transnational crime, corruption and terrorism prosecutions often need evidence from other countries or extradition of an offender who has sought safe haven in another country. That's why we work with countries on international crime cooperation, that is, mutual assistance and extradition laws.
  • Fostering agency cooperation and effectiveness: Laws are not enough—they must also be effective. That's why we work with partner countries to improve their inter-agency cooperation. Agencies must be joined-up and effective to operationalise laws.
  • Building policy and legislation bench strength: We build policy and legislation capabilities by running policy courses for government officials in partner countries and helping to develop practical tools for the policy development and legislation process.

Our value add is our experience as government lawyers and policy officers with development expertise. We work directly with our foreign counterpart agencies, as partner countries value our peer-to-peer collaboration. We work closely with the AFP, DFAT, AUSTRAC, other donors, multilateral and regional bodies to maximise the effectiveness of our work.

Why we do this work

Our work advances whole-of-government priorities for the Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice. This includes:

  • supporting Operation Sovereign Borders (including strengthening people smuggling laws in the region and through the Bali Process)
  • rule of law
  • fighting organised crime and corruption
  • national security
  • foreign policy and aid priorities.

Criminal activity, including corruption, thwarts development. It's estimated that in the last decade developing countries lost US$8.44 trillion to illicit financial flows. This is estimated to be 10 times more than the foreign aid those countries received. This is why we work with countries in our region to build their capacity to combat challenges of corruption, transnational crime, domestic crime and policing and international crime cooperation including extradition and mutual assistance. This work advances Australia's national interest by promoting stability and prosperity in our region.

Where we work

Our international legal assistance programs involve partnerships with countries across our region including:

  • The Pacific—Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Kiribati
  • South-East Asia—Indonesia and Vietnam
  • South Asia—Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

We also work with regional organisations including the Bali Process on People Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, Pacific Islands Law Officers' Network and Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police.

This image is a map of South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific. Red markers are placed on countries where the International Legal Assistance Branch has bilateral programs. There are red markers on Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and Kiribati. Green markers represent International Legal Assistance Branch cooperation with regional organisations and are placed on the country where the regional organisation has its headquarters. There are green markers in Thailand – headquarters for the Bali Process on People Smuggling and Human Trafficking, in Australia – headquarters for the Asia-Pacific Group on Money-Laundering, in New Zealand – headquarters for the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police and in Samoa – headquarters for the Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network.