The Extraditions Unit examines applications from foreign authorities for individuals to be taken into custody pending extradition (request for search) and, where appropriate, will order the arrest in Switzerland of the persons being sought. Where a person consents to extradition after they have been arrested, the Unit will approve a simplified procedure for extradition to the applicant state. If the person concerned resists extradition, the Unit will issue an extradition warrant. It will examine the foreign extradition request and take the relevant decision, which may be challenged before the Federal Criminal Court. Appeals to the Federal Supreme Court are possible in particularly significant cases. At the application of the Swiss criminal prosecution and enforcement authorities, the Extradition Unit will circulate Swiss search requests, mostly via Interpol, and submit extradition applications to foreign states.
In addition, the Unit receives foreign applications for Switzerland to assume criminal prosecutions on their behalf and forwards them to the competent Swiss prosecuting authorities. It also makes the corresponding requests to foreign authorities at the request of the Swiss prosecuting authorities. Furthermore, the Unit consults with the responsible cantonal authorities to decide whether or not to approve applications from Swiss citizens who have been found guilty abroad and wish to return to Switzerland to serve out their custodial sentences. Similarly, it considers cases in which foreigners have applied to return to their native countries to serve the remaining term of a sentence handed down in Switzerland.
Mutual Assistance Units I and II
Where no direct business dealings are possible, the Mutual Assistance Units I and II forward Swiss applications for mutual assistance to the relevant foreign authorities and examine whether mutual assistance requests from abroad meet legal requirements in Switzerland. If necessary, it will ask the requesting authority to emend its application or provide further information. If the request meets the legal requirements and if mutual assistance is not obviously inadmissible, the Units will forward the request to the competent cantonal or federal authority for execution. If several cantons are involved, the lead canton does not make a decision within the appropriate time, or the case is complex or of particular importance, the Units may execute the mutual assistance request of their own accord.
The Mutual Assistance Unit I deals primarily with requests concerning the seizure and handover of assets. In cases of urgency, the Unit can impose precautionary measures ‒ such as the freezing of accounts ‒ as soon as it receives notification of a request for mutual assistance by a foreign authority. It is also responsible for dealing with mutual assistance requests concerning Politically Exposed Persons (PEP). Further, the Unit negotiates agreements with other states on sharing seized assets and is responsible for such cases at national level. In addition, it processes cases relating to the spontaneous transmission of evidence and the service of documents to foreign prosecuting authorities. The Unit also deals with proceedings in connection with the International Criminal Court and the international tribunals, and performs in particular cross-sectional tasks.
The Mutual Assistance Unit II comprises two special central offices responsible for cooperation with the USA and Italy, and for all mutual assistance procedures regarding these two countries. In addition, Unit II is in charge of all requests for notification.
Both Units monitor the application of the Mutual Assistance Act and may, in their capacity as supervisory body, submit an appeal to the Federal Criminal Court or Federal Supreme Court against a decision made by an executing body.
International Treaties Unit
The main task of this Unit is to expand Switzerland's network of treaties around the world to strengthen international relations in the fight against cross-border crime. It examines the draft treaties submitted to Switzerland or draws up its own state treaty drafts. It is also responsible for drafting other instruments under international law, such as exchanges of notes or political memoranda of understanding. In addition, it participates in the drafting of multilateral mutual assistance instruments and criminal law conventions containing provisions on mutual assistance, in particular in the context of the Council of Europe and the UN. The Unit is also responsible for legislative projects relating to international cooperation in criminal matters.
Liaison Prosecutors Office
Switzerland has had a liaison prosecutor at Eurojust since 2015. Eurojust is an EU institution whose tasks include improving the coordination of investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities of the Member States, and enhancing cooperation between the Member States in relation to the execution of international legal assistance and extradition requests. The Swiss liaison prosecutor represents Switzerland’s interests within Eurojust, and fosters relations between Eurojust and Swiss prosecuting authorities. The liaison prosecutor also assists Swiss prosecuting authorities in criminal investigations of a transnational nature and mediates between the competent authorities of the countries concerned.
Last modification 01.06.2021
Federal Office of Justice
International Legal Assistance Division
T +41 58 462 11 20
F +41 58 462 53 80