Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago

Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs

About the Central Authority Unit (CAU)

The Central Authority Unit in the Ministry of the Attorney General was established under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, 1997. This Act gives effect to the Commonwealth Scheme in Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (the Harare Scheme) which is a non -Treaty based scheme which depends upon States enacting domestic legislation to facilitate international cooperation in criminal matters. The Central Authority Unit therefore is the designated authority responsible for executing requests for Mutual Legal Assistance. In this regard, the primary duty of the Central Authority is to satisfy itself that incoming requests can be properly executed and to ensure that all the necessary information is provided to satisfy the requirements of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

The types of assistance which can be provided under the Act include inter alia assistance in:

  • – Obtaining evidence from persons, or the production of records or documents for use in the foreign country;

    – Locating and/or identifying persons;

    – Searching and seizing;

    – Arranging the attendance of persons in the requesting country to give evidence;

    – The temporary transfer of detained persons to testify;

    – Serving documents;

    – Identifying and tracing property obtained from specific serious offences;

    – The enforcement of foreign confiscation or forfeiture orders, pecuniary penalties and restraint orders; and

    – Obtaining restraint orders.

The Central Authority is also responsible for the execution of Extradition requests which are either issued by a foreign jurisdiction or issued to a foreign jurisdiction. In this regard, the Central Authority is responsible for determining whether a request for extradition can be executed in accordance with the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act Chap. 12:04. Where it is determined that the request can be executed, the Central Authority is responsible for the preparation of all necessary documents and for attending court as instructing counsel.

The work of the Central Authority Unit is facilitated in large measure by a number of international stakeholders including other central authorities or designated competent authorities and law enforcement agencies. From a local perspective the Central Authority also works closely with the various arms of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service such as INTERPOL, the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau (ACIB), the Financial Investigations Branch (FIB), the Fraud Squad and the Organized Crime and Intelligence Unit (OCIU) amongst others.

The Central Authority Unit is also responsible for the sharing of confiscated, forfeited or seized assets with other countries and for the negotiation of Mutual Legal Assistance agreements, International Cooperation Agreements and Treaties with other countries.