Romania-USA protocol on legal assistance in criminal matter takes force

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The legal assistance in criminal matters between Romania and the USA is regulated by means of a new bilateral instrument, given that the Protocol to the Treaty between Romania and the United States of America on legal assistance in criminal matters took force on Monday, informed the Justice Ministry.

The protocol was signed in Bucharest on September 10, 2007, and in Washington on May 26, 1999, being ratified by Romania in May 2008. The protocol was concluded for the enforcement of the Legal assistance agreement between the USA and the European Union, which also entered into force on February 1, regulating modern forms of legal assistance in criminal matter.

Such forms include identifying banking information on money laundering and terrorist activities punished by both states’ legislations, as well as on any other criminal activity upon which the parties will agree subsequently. According to the protocol, joint investigation teams may be established on the Romanian and U.S. territories having as purpose the facilitation of the investigations or of the criminal prosecutions that involve the USA and one or several EU member states, when Romania and the United States of America believe it to be appropriate.

At the same time, the use of video transmission technology – hearing by video-conference – is allowed between Romania and the United States of America in order to obtain within a procedure for which legal assistance may be granted the testimony of a witness or of an expert who finds himself in the requested state. Another provision of the protocol refers to legal assistance granted to administrative authorities that conduct investigations aiming at criminal prosecution.

Assistance is not allowed for issues regarding which the administrative authority appreciates the criminal prosecution will not take place, or as the case may be, the investigation or criminal prosecution bodies will not be notified. The central authority in the field responsible for receiving, communicating and/or drafting the legal assistance requests is the Justice Ministry for Romania and the Justice Department for the United States of America.

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