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Breaches of international law

Investigating people, groups and countries that violate human rights
    About this crime type

    About this crime

    International law is the collection of rules and laws governing relations between countries. Bodies that enforce international law include the United Nations, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice.

    Australia has obligations under international treaties. We work to investigate breaches of international law.

    War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide

    War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are core international crimes involving serious human rights violations.

    The ICC can prosecute individuals for core international crimes under international law.

    Sanctions breaches

    Sanctions are restrictions on activities or trade, including the interruption of economic relations. They don't involve the use of armed force.

    Sanctions can be:

    • restrictions on trade in goods and services
    • restrictions on engaging in commercial activities
    • targeted financial sanctions (including asset freezes) on designated people and entities
    • travel bans on certain people.

    In Australia, we implement sanctions regimes from the United Nations Security Council and our own autonomous regimes. Breaking sanctions laws can be a serious criminal offence. Penalties range from substantial fines to up to 10 years in prison for individuals.

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    ... whatever the situation, however serious the crime, the Australian Federal Police will always be a step ahead.

    Our work

    Under Division 268 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), Australia has jurisdiction to investigate core international crimes that occur offshore. However, it is not usually practical for the AFP to do so. We usually defer to the country where the alleged crimes occurred.

    We are currently working with the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) to investigate allegations of war crimes allegedly committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 (the Afghanistan Inquiry).

    We also work with the Australian Sanctions Office (ASO) and Australian Border Force to investigate possible sanctions breaches.

    Report a crime or concern

    We can investigate Commonwealth crimes (sometimes called federal crimes) and crimes that take place in the Australian Capital Territory. What best describes the crime you want to report or what you want to tell us about?

    How to report

    If you have information relevant to investigations regarding allegations of war crimes allegedly committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 (the Afghanistan Inquiry)
    contact the Office of the Special Investigator

    If you are or think you may be holding a controlled asset linked to a person or entity listed under Australian sanctions law, seek legal advice and
    contact the ASO

    You also have a legal obligation to report it to us. Tell us as soon as possible by filling out our
    Report a crime form

    Join us

    Use your investigation and analytical skills to help us combat international crime.

    We employ intelligence officers and analysts to support complex investigations. You'll need advanced research and analytical skills and experience or tertiary qualifications in policing, law enforcement or criminal intelligence.

    We also have investigative team members who work in the field.

    If you're interested in fighting financial crime and have tertiary accountancy qualifications, you may be suitable for a forensic accountant role.

    Find out more about these roles:

    You can apply for positions when they are advertised on our Jobs portal.