Harmonization of legal frameworks at the national and international levels is essential. Similar procedures and legislation facilitate and accelerate cooperation. Multilateral and regional treaties serve this purpose. In the Organized Crime Convention, Article 18 is devoted to mutual legal assistance and the text consists of 30 paragraphs, the longest article of the entire Convention. This level of attention shows the importance of harmonizing legal procedures. (15) A request for mutual legal assistance shall contain that, to the extent that they deem it useful and necessary to promote the application of this Convention, States Parties may exchange information on matters relating to its implementation. The Honiara Declaration “calls for a number of procedural and material measures to ensure law enforcement cooperation, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, control of money laundering, forfeiture of assets and banking regulation, extradition, fight against drug-related offences, fight against environmental crimes, fight against terrorism, maritime traffic monitoring, fiscal cooperation, assistance in prison management 1992, 1994, 1988, 1988, 1988, 1 Other areas identified by the Forum according to Honiara are trafficking in human beings, regional security, proliferation of small arms, identity fraud and corruption. [Boister, Neil (2004). Transnational crime in the Pacific. The University of the South Pacific (USP).] States Parties shall assist each other in the investigation, prosecution and proceeding of offences for which the requesting State is responsible at the time of the request for assistance. Mutual legal assistance contracts increasingly require States parties to designate a central authority (usually the Ministry of Justice) to which requests can be addressed, thus providing an alternative to diplomatic channels.
The judicial authorities of the requesting State may then communicate directly with the central authority. Today, the channels are increasingly direct, since an official of the requesting State can address the request directly to the competent official of the other State. This trend shows the importance of a national central authority as a prerequisite for greater effective mutual legal assistance. The Organized Crime Convention makes its designation a sine qua non for ensuring the prompt and regular execution or transmission of requests, without, however, affecting the right of States parties to use traditional diplomatic channels (Article 18, paragraph 13). In addition, it is equally important to employ central authorities with practitioners trained in law and having developed institutional expertise and continuity in practice associated with it, as well as to ensure that up-to-date information is disseminated to them. The requested State may refuse administrative assistance if it finds that, if the requested State is unable to respond to a request for assistance, it shall return the request to the requesting State on the basis of the request. 1. States Parties shall accord to each other the widest degree of mutual legal assistance in the investigation, prosecution and judicial proceedings concerning the offences referred to in article 3 of this Convention, and shall grant each other similar mutual assistance where the requesting State Party has sufficient reason to believe that the offence referred to in article 3, paragraph 1 (a) or (b), is transnational: including the possibility that the victims, witnesses, products, tools or evidence of such offences may be in the requested State of the Contracting Party and that an organised criminal organisation may be involved in the offence. . . .