International judicial assistance in criminal matters

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Mutual assistance and extradition

In a globalized world, criminal investigations very often extend beyond national borders. It is thus usual for a national prosecuting authority to ask for assistance from a foreign prosecuting authority and vice versa. This is the area of international judicial assistance in criminal matters.

A distinction is made between major mutual assistance (extradition) and minor mutual assistance (e.g. transmission of evidence). This field is governed by international conventions and specific laws, in Switzerland the Federal Law on International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (EIMP).

The conditions under which mutual assistance is granted are very strict and the intervention of a specialized lawyer will often be necessary to ensure compliance and prevent improper disclosure of evidence.

Similarly, it is particularly important to be vigilant with regard to criminal proceedings conducted in Switzerland following extradition. Principles such as the principle of speciality, the
ne bis in idem
andimputation will, if properly applied, avoid excessive sanctions.

The lawyers of Penalex Avocats SA have recognized expertise in this field and are familiar with the workings of international legal assistance, which they practice regularly.

Key points

  • Extradition: sending an individual abroad for trial or execution of a sentence
  • Mutual legal assistance: assisting a foreign state in gathering evidence in Switzerland
  • Obstacles to mutual assistance and extradition: political, military or fiscal crime exception, statute of limitations, violations of human rights and procedural guarantees in the country requesting mutual assistance, ne bis in idem depending on the country concerned, principle of speciality