Skip to main content

Important COVID-19 information
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Attorney-General’s Department: Find out how our services are being delivered and how you can access them. For the latest COVID-19 news, updates and advice from the Australian Government, visit Australia.gov.au

Foreign requests to Australia

Australia works together with other countries to fight crime and recover the proceeds of crime. Mutual assistance is an important tool to combat crime in Australia and foreign countries. This page contains information on how a foreign country can make a mutual assistance request to Australia.

The flowchart below provides a general overview of the process of making a mutual assistance request to Australia:

The fact sheet below provides information that must be included in mutual assistance requests and outlines when Australia will refuse to provide assistance:

Australia can only consider requests made by the government of a foreign country, and not by individuals.

The mutual assistance process is assisted by a number of bilateral mutual assistance treaties and multilateral conventions to which Australia is a party.

Making a request

The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987 (Cth) governs Australia's provision of mutual assistance. Requests and all supporting documentation should be in writing and translated into English.

Further information about the specific information that should be included in a mutual assistance request to Australia is in the fact sheet on making a mutual assistance request to Australia above.

Requests for mutual assistance should be sent to the Australian Central Authority:

Assistant Secretary
International Crime Cooperation Central Authority
Attorney-General's Department
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600
AUSTRALIA

Requests can also be sent to the Attorney-General's Department through diplomatic channels, either via Australian diplomatic missions overseas, or via foreign diplomatic missions in Australia.

Mutual assistance and the death penalty

The Australian Government has a long standing policy of opposition to the death penalty. Australia's mutual assistance framework reflects this opposition.

The framework also provides sufficient flexibility to allow Australia to cooperate effectively with foreign countries to investigate and prosecute instances of serious criminal conduct.

Australia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Second Optional Protocol, which requires Australia to:

  • abolish the death penalty in its jurisdiction
  • ensure that no one within its jurisdiction is subject to the death penalty
  • ensure that Australia's laws and policies are consistent with these requirements.

The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987 (Cth) regulates the way in which Australia provides mutual assistance in death penalty cases.

Mutual assistance requests can be made at various stages of the law enforcement process. The rules that apply vary according to whether the matter is in the investigation stage or whether charges have been laid.

The Attorney-General may refuse to provide assistance if they believe that providing the assistance may result in the death penalty being imposed. Before making this decision, the Attorney-General must take into consideration the interests of international criminal cooperation to determine whether, in the circumstances of the case, the request should not be granted.

The Attorney-General must refuse to provide assistance where a person has been arrested or detained on having committed an offence or charged with or convicted of a death penalty offence unless there are special circumstances.

An example of a special circumstances is when the foreign country provides an undertaking that:

  • the death penalty will not be imposed, or
  • if the death penalty is imposed, it will not be carried out.

Another example of a special circumstance is that the assistance provided would assist a defendant to prove their innocence.

Timeframes

Requests should be made as early as possible. Australia always tries to assist in urgent matters, however please bear in mind that obtaining requested assistance may take some time.

For more information, email the Australian Central Authority.

Confidentiality

The Central Authority treats all foreign requests made to Australia as confidential, except as required to execute the request. It is an offence for an Australian official to disclose the fact that Australia has received a request for mutual assistance and the contents of a request.

As mutual assistance requests are made in the context of ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions, it is also the policy of the Australian Government not to disclose information about Australia's mutual assistance requests.​​

Contact details

International Crime Cooperation Central Authority
iccca@ag.gov.au
3-5 National Circuit BARTON ACT 2600