International Exchange of Information in Criminal Cases

This article describes some of the means by which police and prosecutors obtain information in international criminal matters. An exhaustive catalog is not presented; rather, examples of international cooperation and conflict are dwelled upon to illustrate the need for systematic development of international law principles governing the interpretation and application of treaties, and the enforcement in both the demanding and the rendering state of rules concerning information exchange. These rules and principles should honor expectations of privacy and confidentiality, make dear the obligations of foreign persons and entities, including financial institutions, and ensure mutual respect for the sovereign interests of the rendering state and the enforcement jurisdiction of the demanding state. The authors consider, as cases in point and as representative examples, the treaties of mutual assistance between the United States and Switzerland, the use of subpoena power in the United States to reach foreign persons, entities, and information, and the array of covert devices used by American authorities when neither a treaty nor compulsory process promises any assistance.