The main functions of the Chief Directorate: International Legal Relations in the DoJ&CD is to identify and research legal questions that relate to matters pertaining to the administration of justice between South Africa and other countries as well as international bodies and institutions.
The chief directorate is involved in direct liaison and negotiations at administrative and technical level with foreign countries to promote international legal cooperation, and for the possible conclusion of extradition and mutual legal-assistance agreements. The chief directorate also aims to establish greater uniformity between the legal systems of southern African countries, especially within the SADC.
The functions of the chief directorate are divided into eight broad categories:
- regular liaison on international legal matters with SADC countries
- coordinating all Commonwealth matters pertaining to the administration of justice
- interacting with the UN, the Hague Conference and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law
- interacting with foreign countries outside the SADC region
- preparing Cabinet and Parliament documentation for the ratification of human rights treaties, including report-writing
- processing requests for extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, interrogatory commissions and service of process handling requests for maintenance in terms of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act, 1963 (Act 80 of 1963).
Owing to the number of departments and/or institutions involved in the execution of extradition and mutual legal assistance requests, and taking into consideration that diplomatic channels are followed to transmit documents, delays are experienced from time to time.
Provisions are included in extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements to provide for direct communication between central authorities.
The drastic reduction in the turnaround time for the processing of these requests should be a clear indication to the rest of the world that South Africa will neither be a safe haven for fugitives nor a breeding ground for transnational organised crime.
Source: South Africa Yearbook 2018/19