What is the scope of Mutual Legal Assistance and what types of proceedings are covered by it?
MLA is a tool aimed at concluding the criminal proceedings. Within this scope, service of writs and summons, hearing of witnesses, suspects, victims and experts, obtaining evidence (i.e. bank records, tools and weapons used for committing the crime, information stored in computing systems, biometric data, DNA samples) is the basic types of proceedings that can be conducted through MLA.
There are also new forms of MLA proceedings like joint investigation teams (JITs), hearing of persons related to the criminal investigations or prosecutions through teleconference or videoconference, temporary transfer of detained persons, cross-border observations, controlled delivery, and covert investigations. This, in general, is called the MLA in ‘strictu sensu’.
Broadly speaking, procedures of extradition, transfer of sentenced persons and transfer of criminal proceedings are also forms of inter-state judicial assistance. Accordingly, this is called mutual legal assistance in ‘lato sensu’. By MLA, in practice, we mean MLA in strictu sensu.