Treaties with UAE boost fight against organised crime

The international fight against organised crime has received a boost from mutual agreements between the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In confirmation of these agreements, Minister of Justice and Security Yeşilgöz-Zegerius and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoekstra have submitted two bilateral treaties with the UAE to the Dutch House of Representatives: one on mutual legal assistance and one on extradition.

According to Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, the mutual agreements with the UAE are vital to fighting organised crime in general, and financial and economic crime in particular. Criminals worldwide are attempting to launder the criminal proceeds of international drug trafficking in order to keep them out of sight of the authorities. In recent years, the UAE has proven to be a key partner of the Netherlands in the fight against organised crime and criminal money flows. The treaties consolidate the partnership that the Netherlands and the UAE have forged.

‘International drug trafficking is a veritable bonanza in terms of illicit proceeds. Violent and ruthless criminals have overstepped all boundaries in their attempts to further their illegal activities and move their ill-gotten gains around. With its intimidatory and violent practices, organised crime poses a serious threat to our society and democratic rule of law. We cannot allow criminals to escape justice by fleeing to another country from where they can continue their abuse of the world’s financial and economic infrastructure. More international cooperation will allow us to combat this more effectively,’

says Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius.

Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius’ predecessor co-signed the treaties with his UAE counterpart in Abu Dhabi last year. Before the treaties can come into effect, they must be submitted for approval to the Dutch House of Representatives and the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten by means of two legislative proposals.

Swifter response

The treaties on legal assistance and extradition will allow the investigative services in both countries to respond more swiftly to each other’s requests for cooperation in the area of criminal law. The treaties include agreements on hearing suspects, witnesses, victims and experts, examining bank accounts, and seizing property and proceeds obtained from criminal activity. They also extend the possibilities for cooperation on extradition cases.

What will remain unchanged under these bilateral treaties is that each request for legal assistance or extradition will be assessed separately on the basis of legal and treaty frameworks. As an example, requests for legal assistance or extradition will be denied if there are valid grounds to assume that the suspect in question is being persecuted on account of their religious or political beliefs, nationality, race or ethnicity. In addition, the Netherlands will ask for guarantees that no corporal punishment or death penalty will be issued or carried out if these are relevant options in the other country. Without such guarantees, it will be unable to approve requests for legal assistance or extradition.