TREATIES AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ACTS SERIES 13010
MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Treaty Between the
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Signed at Paris December 10, 1998
NOTE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Pursuant to Public Law 89—497, approved July 8, 1966
(80 Stat. 271; 1 U.S.C. 113)—
“. . .the Treaties and Other International Acts Series issued
under the authority of the Secretary of State shall be competent
evidence . . . of the treaties, international agreements other than
treaties, and proclamations by the President of such treaties and
international agreements other than treaties, as the case may be,
therein contained, in all the courts of law and equity and of maritime
jurisdiction, and in all the tribunals and public offices of the
United States, and of the several States, without any further proof
or authentication thereof.”
Mutual Legal Assistance
Treaty signed at Paris December 10, 1998;
Transmitted by the President of the United States of America
to the Senate January 31, 2000 (Treaty Doc. 106-17,
106th Congress, 2d Session);
Reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
September 27, 2000 (Senate Executive Report No. 106-24,
106th Congress, 2d Session);
Advice and consent to ratification by the Senate
October 18, 2000;
Ratified by the President January 13, 2001;
Ratified by France June 5, 2001;
Entered into force December 1, 2001.
TREATY ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE
IN CRIMINAL MATTERS
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The President of the United States of America and the
President of the French Republic,
Desiring to establish more effective cooperation in the area of
mutual legal assistance in criminal matters;
Have decided to conclude a treaty on mutual legal assistance in
criminal matters and have appointed as their plenipotentiaries for this
The President of the United States of America:
The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State of the
United States of America;
The President of the French Republic:
The Honorable Elisabeth Guigon, Minister of Justice;
Who, having communicated to each other their respective full
powers, which were found in good and due form,
Have agreed as follows:
SCOPE OF ASSISTANCE
1. The Contracting States undertake to afford each other, in accordance
with the provisions of this Treaty, the widest measure of mutual assistance in
investigations or proceedings in respect of criminal offenses the punishment of which,
at the time of the request for assistance, is a matter for the judicial authorities of the
2. This Treaty does not apply to:
(a) the execution of requests for provisional arrest and extradition;
(b) the enforcement of criminal judgments except for forfeiture
decisions referred to in Article 11; or,
(c) offenses under military law that do not constitute offenses under
ordinary criminal law.
3. This Treaty is intended solely for mutual legal assistance between the
States. The provisions of the Treaty shall not affect the exercise of rights otherwise
available to private persons under the laws of the State presented with a claim based
on such rights.
1. Each State shall designate a Central Authority to make and receive
requests pursuant to this Treaty. For the United States of America, the Central
Authority is the Attorney General or a person designated by the Attorney General. For
France, the Central Authority is the Ministry of Justice. The Central Authorities shall
communicate directly with one another for the purposes of this Treaty.
2. The Central Authorities shall consult, at times to which they mutually
agree, to promote the most effective use of this Treaty. The Central Authorities shall
agree on such practical measures as may be necessary to facilitate the implementation
of this Treaty, in particular those related to the implementation of Article 9.
3. The Central Authorities shall provide each other with information
regarding the execution of requests and each shall respond to the other's requests
regarding progress toward execution of specific requests.
The Central Authorities shall make requests emanating from competent
authorities. For the United States of America, the competent authorities are
prosecutors and authorities with statutory or regulatory responsibility for
investigations of criminal offenses, including the referral of matters to prosecutors for
criminal prosecution. The presentation by the Central Authority of the United
States of America of a request coming from such authorities establishes the competence
of those authorities. For France, the competent authorities are the judicial authorities
including the public prosecutor.
CONTENTS OF REQUESTS
1. Requests for assistance shall be in writing and shall include the following
(a) the identity of the competent authority from whom the request
(b) a description of the nature of the investigation or proceeding,
including the facts on which the request is based, and a statement
of the purpose for which the assistance is sought;
(c) the text of the applicable criminal statute;
(d) insofar as possible, the identity and nationality of the person who
is the subject of the investigation or proceeding;
(e) insofar as possible, the identity, nationality, and address or
location of any person to be served or from whom assistance is
(f) a description of the evidence or other assistance sought including,
where appropriate, a list of questions if testimony of a witness or
questioning of a person who is the subject of the investigation or
proceeding is requested; and
(g) the details of any particular procedure that the Requesting State
wishes to be followed.
2. Where appropriate, the Requesting State may indicate any time limit
within which the assistance should be provided.
TRANSMISSION OF REQUESTS
Requests shall be sent by the Central Authority of the Requesting State to the
Central Authority of the Requested State. The results of execution shall be returned
through the same channel unless the Central Authorities agree otherwise. In the event
of urgency, an advance copy of a request may be transmitted by any means, including
Interpol. Thereafter, the Central Authority of the Requesting State shall transmit the
original request to the Central Authority of the Requested State.
DENIAL OF ASSISTANCE
1. Legal assistance may be denied if the Requested State considers that:
(a) the offense to which the request relates is a political offense or an
offense related to a political offense; or
(b) execution of the request would prejudice its sovereignty, security,
public order, or other essential interests.
2. Before denial of a request for assistance, the Central Authority of the
Requested State shall consult with the Central Authority of the Requesting State to
consider whether assistance can be given subject to such conditions as the Requested
State deems to be necessary.
3. If a request for assistance is denied, the Central Authority of the
Requested State shall inform the Central Authority of the Requesting State of the
reasons for the denial.
If the Requested State determines that execution of a request would interfere
with an ongoing criminal investigation or proceeding in that State, it may, after
consultations between the Central Authorities, postpone execution, including
transmission, or make execution subject to conditions determined to be necessary. If
the Requesting State accepts the assistance subject to the conditions, it shall comply
with the conditions.
EXECUTION OF REQUESTS
1. Requests shall be executed in accordance with the provisions of this
Treaty and the laws of the Requested State.
2. The Central Authority of the Requested State shall make all necessary
arrangements for a request to be presented to its competent administrative and judicial
authorities for execution. Administrative and judicial authorities charged with the
execution of a request shall use all necessary measures available under the laws of the
Requested State to provide any form of assistance, not prohibited by its laws, necessary
or useful for the execution of the request.
3. A person giving testimony or evidence in the Requested State may assert
such claims of immunity, incapacity, or privilege as are available under its laws. If
such person asserts a claim under the laws of the Requesting State, the person's
testimony or evidence shall be taken and the claim recorded and preserved for
consideration by the judicial authorities of the Requesting State. If, within a
reasonable time prior to giving testimony or evidence, such person notifies the
executing authority of the Requested State of the intention to assert such a claim, the
Central Authorities may consult with respect thereto.
4. A person who gives false testimony in the execution of a request shall be
subject to prosecution and punishment in the Requested State in accordance with its
1. If the Requesting State requests, the Requested State shall inform it of
the dates and places of the execution of the request. The authorities and persons
designated by the Requesting State may be permitted to be present at, and may assist
in, the execution of the request if the Requested State consents. The Requested State
shall permit such designated authorities and persons to be present at and assist in the
taking of depositions for use in a judicial proceeding in the Requesting State subject to,
in particular, the application of Articles 6 and 7.
2. The procedures specified in this paragraph and outlined in the request
shall be carried out insofar as they are not contrary to the fundamental
principles of a judicial proceeding in the Requested State. The Requested State, if the
Requesting State requests, shall:
(a) take the testimony of witnesses or experts under oath, or question
persons who are the subject of investigations or proceedings;
(b) allow a confrontation between a defendant, together with counsel,
and a witness or expert whose testimony or evidence is taken for
use against that defendant in a criminal prosecution in the
(c) ask questions submitted by the Requesting State, including
questions proposed by authorities of the Requesting State present
at the execution of the request;
(d) record or allow to be recorded the testimony, questioning, or
(e) produce or allow to be produced a verbatim transcript of the
proceeding in which the testimony, questioning, or confrontation
3. If the Requesting State requests, the Requested State shall transmit
original documents or records to the extent possible. Otherwise, the Requested State
shall transmit true copies thereof.
4. If the Requesting State requests, business records, whether originals or
copies, shall be accompanied by:
(a) a certificate such as Form A appended to this Treaty; or
(b) a proces-verbal containing the essential information sought in
Such records shall be admissible in evidence in the Requesting State as proof of the
truth of the matters set forth therein.
SEARCH AND SEIZURE
1. The Requested State shall execute a request for the search, seizure, and
delivery of any item to the Requesting State if the request includes the information
justifying such search under the laws of the Requested State.
2. If the Requesting State requests, a competent authority in the Requested
State shall provide a certificate or proces-verbal that:
(a) identifies the item seized;
(b) identifies every official who has had custody of the item seized;
(c) describes the circumstances of custody.
If, after seizure, any transfer of custody of or material change in the item seized
occurs, the competent authority in the Requested State shall provide an additional
certificate or proces-verbal that describes the circumstances of such transfer of custody
or material change. No further proof of the identity of the item, the continuity of
custody, or the integrity of its condition shall be required. The certificates or proces-
verbaux shall be admissible in evidence in the Requesting State as proof thereof.
PROCEEDS OF OFFENSES
1. Upon the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State
shall provide assistance for proceedings related to the forfeiture of proceeds or
instrumentalities of criminal offenses.
2. Upon the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State
shall take appropriate measures, in accordance with its laws, to locate and identify
proceeds or instrumentalities of offenses within the Requested State. The request
shall specify the reasons for believing that proceeds or instrumentalities are within
the Requested State. The Requested State shall inform the Requesting State of the
results of its inquiry.
3. At the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State,
based on facts that would constitute an offense under the laws of both States and to
the extent permitted by its laws, may take protective measures to immobilize
temporarily such proceeds or instrumentalities to ensure their availability for
4. At the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State
may execute a final decision of forfeiture pronounced by judicial authorities of the
Requesting State. The execution of such a request shall be in accordance with the
laws of the Requested State.
5. The Requested State that executes a final forfeiture decision
shall dispose of the forfeited proceeds and instrumentalities in accordance with its
laws. As it determines appropriate, the Requested State also may transfer all or
part of such assets, or the proceeds of their sale, to the Requesting State.
Insofar as cooperation between the two States contributed to a final
forfeiture decision, the forfeiting State, to the extent permitted by its laws and upon
such terms as it deems to be appropriate, may transfer all or part of such assets, or
the proceeds of their sale, to the other State.
RETURN OF EVIDENCE
1. Articles of evidence, including original documents and records,
transmitted pursuant to a request shall be retained by the Requesting State unless the
Requested State asks at the time of transmission for their return.
2. The Requested State may require that the Requesting State agree to
terms and conditions for the care and return of articles of evidence deemed to be
necessary to protect third party interests.
The States shall assist each other to the extent permitted by their respective laws
to facilitate restitution.
1. The Requested State shall use its best efforts to keep confidential a
request and its contents if such confidentiality is requested by the Central Authority of
the Requesting State. If the request cannot be executed without breaching such
confidentiality, the Central Authority of the Requested State shall so inform the
Central Authority of the Requesting State, which shall then determine whether the
request should nevertheless be executed.
2. The Central Authority of the Requested State may request that
information or evidence furnished under this Treaty be kept confidential or be used
only subject to terms and conditions it may specify. If the Requesting State accepts the
information or evidence subject to such conditions, the Requesting State shall use its
best efforts to comply with the conditions.
3. The Central Authority of the Requested State may request that the
Requesting State not use any information or evidence obtained under this Treaty in
any investigation or proceeding other than that described in the request without the
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prior consent of the Requested State. In that event, the Requesting State shall comply
with the condition.
4. Nothing In this Article shall preclude the use or disclosure of information
or evidence to the extent that an obligation exists, for the United States under its
Constitution or for France under its Constitution and general principles of its law
having Constitutional value, to do so in a criminal proceeding. To the extent possible,
the Requesting State shall notify the Requested State in advance of any such use or
5. Information and evidence obtained under the conditions referred to in
paragraphs 2 or 3 of this Article may be used for any purpose insofar as they have
been made public within the framework of the proceeding for which they were
transmitted to the Requesting State.
SERVICE OF PROCEDURAL DOCUMENTS AND
1. The Requested State shall serve procedural documents and judicial
decisions sent to it for this purpose by the Requesting State.
2. Service may be effected by simple transmission of the document or
decision to its addressee. If the Requesting State requests, the Requested State shall
serve the document using a method provided by or compatible with its laws.
3. Proof of service shall consist of a receipt dated and signed by the
addressee or a statement by the Requested State noting the fact, the method, and the
date of service. Either of these documents shall be sent immediately to the Requesting
State. If service could not be effected, the Requested State shall inform the Requesting
State immediately of the reason.
4. The Central Authority of the Requesting State shall transmit a document
requiring the appearance of a person in the Requesting State to the Central Authority
of the Requested State at least 50 days before the date of the scheduled appearance.
Upon the request of the Requesting State, the Central Authority of the Requested
State may waive this requirement for persons other than defendants.
APPEARANCE IN THE REQUESTING STATE
1. If the Requesting State requests the personal appearance of a witness or
an expert, the Requested State shall invite this witness or expert to appear. The
Requested State shall inform the Central Authority of the Requesting State of the
2. Such a request shall mention the approximate amount of the invited
person's travel and subsistence costs to be reimbursed. If the person so requests, the
Requesting State may advance part or all of the funds to pay those expenses through its
diplomatic or consular missions in the Requested State.
3. A witness or expert who fails to comply with a document requiring an
appearance in the Requesting State, service of which has been effected pursuant to a
request, shall not be subjected to any sanction or measure of restraint, even if the
document contains a notice of penalty, unless the person subsequently travels
voluntarily to the Requesting State, is duly served, and again fails to comply.
1. A witness or expert appearing in the Requesting State in response to a
request shall not be subject to service of process, prosecuted, detained, or subjected to
any other restriction of personal liberty in that State by reason of any acts or
convictions that preceded the person's departure from the Requested State unless the
Central Authority of the Requesting State limits such safe conduct and so notifies the
Central Authority of the Requested State. Any such limitation of safe conduct shall be
communicated to the witness or expert at the time the witness or expert is invited to
2. A person appearing in the Requesting State in response to a document
served to answer for acts, for which that person is the subject of a criminal
investigation or prosecution, shall not be prosecuted, detained, or subjected to any
other restriction of personal liberty for acts or convictions that preceded that person's
departure from the Requested State other than those specified in the document served.
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3. The safe conduct provided for by this Article shall cease if the person,
being free to leave, has not left the Requesting State within a period of fifteen
consecutive days after being officially advised that the person's presence was no longer
necessary or, having left, has returned.
1. Upon the request of either State, a person in custody in either State may
be temporarily transferred to the receiving State to give testimony or evidence or
otherwise provide assistance in investigations or proceedings in relation to a criminal
2. Such transfer may be denied:
(a) if the person in custody does not consent;
(b) if the person's period of detention might be thereby extended;
(c) if the person's presence is required for ongoing criminal
(d) for reasons of safety, security, or other imperative concerns.
3. Pursuant to this Treaty, the receiving State shall have the obligation and
the authority to keep the person transferred in custody unless the sending State
authorizes the person's release.
4. The receiving State shall require no proceeding to effect the return to the
sending State of the person transferred. The return shall occur by the date specified by
the sending State. This period may be extended by agreement between both States.
5. The sending State shall deduct from that person's sentence any time that
the person transferred serves in the custody of the receiving State.
6. A person appearing in either State pursuant to this Article may receive
the safe conduct authorized under Article 17.
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1. Upon the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State may
authorize the transit through its territory of a person held in custody by the
Requesting State or a third State whose personal appearance has been requested by the
Requesting State to give testimony or evidence or otherwise provide assistance in
investigations or proceedings in relation to a criminal matter.
2. Pursuant to this Treaty, the Requested State shall have the obligation
and the authority to keep the person in custody during transit.
1. At the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State shall provide
copies of records of any nature and In any form that are in the possession of its judicial
authorities or government departments or agencies and that are accessible to the
2. At the request of the Requesting State, the Requested State may provide
copies of records of any nature and in any form that are in the possession of its judicial
authorities or government departments or agencies, but that are not accessible to the
public, to the same extent and under the same conditions that would apply to its own
competent authorities in obtaining such copies. The Requested State may in its
discretion deny a request, pursuant to this paragraph, entirely or in part.
3. Official records produced pursuant to this Article and certified by a
competent authority of the Requested State as official records, or true and correct
copies thereof, shall be admissible in evidence in the Requesting State as proof of the
truth of the matters set forth therein. No further authentication shall be necessary.
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The Requesting State shall translate the request and any supporting documents
into the language of the Requested State.
Except as otherwise provided by this Treaty, evidence, in whatever form,
transmitted pursuant to this Treaty shall be exempt from all legalization formalities.
1. The Requested State shall meet the costs of executing requests except for:
(a) the allowances and expenses related to travel of witnesses and
experts pursuant to Article 16 and the travel of persons in custody
pursuant to Articles 18 and 19;
(b) the costs of interpretation and translation;
(c) the costs of services provided by private parties at the request of
the Requesting State; and
(d) the fees of experts needed to fulfill a request.
2. If during the execution of a request it becomes apparent that execution
will entail expenses of an extraordinary nature, the Central Authorities shall consult to
determine the terms and conditions according to which execution may continue.
INITIATION OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
IN THE REQUESTED STATE
1. Each State may provide to the other State information and evidence
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relating to criminal acts and request that the other State submit the information and
evidence to its competent authorities for the purpose of criminal investigation and
prosecution where both States have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those
acts. Such requests shall be transmitted through the respective Central Authorities.
2. The Requested State shall consider initiating an investigation or
prosecution as appropriate under its laws.
3. The Requested State shall notify the Requesting State of any action
taken pursuant to the request and transmit a copy of any decision rendered.
ENTRY INTO FORCE
Each State shall notify the other of the completion of the procedures required
for the entry into force of this Treaty. This Treaty shall enter into force on the first
day of the second month following the date of receipt of the latter of these notifications.
Either State may terminate this Treaty at any time by forwarding through the
diplomatic channel written notice of termination. Termination shall take effect six
months after receipt of this notification.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed this
Treaty and affixed their seals thereto.
DONE at Paris this tenth day of December, 1998, In duplicate, in the English
and French languages, both texts being equally authentic.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Article 1 SCOPE OF ASSISTANCE
Article 2 CENTRAL AUTHORITIES
Article 3 COMPETENT AUTHORITIES
Article 4 CONTENTS OF REQUESTS
Article 5 TRANSMISSION OF REQUESTS
Article 6 DENIAL OF ASSISTANCE
Article 7 POSTPONING EXECUTION
Article 8 EXECUTION OF REQUESTS
Article 9 SPECIFIC PROCEDURES
Article 10 SEARCH AND SEIZURE
Article 11 PROCEEDS OF OFFENSES
Article 12 RETURN OF EVIDENCE
Article 13 RESTITUTION
Article 14 CONFIDENTIALITY
Article 15 SERVICE OF PROCEDURAL
DOCUMENTS AND JUDICIAL
Article 16 APPEARANCE IN THE REQUESTING
Article 17 SAFE CONDUCT
Article 18 TEMPORARY TRANSFER
Article 19 TRANSIT
Article 20 OFFICIAL RECORDS
Article 21 TRANSLATION
Article 22 LEGALIZATION
Article 23 COSTS
Article 24 INITIATION OF CRIMINAL
PROCEEDINGS IN THE REQUESTED
Article 25 ENTRY INTO FORCE
Article 26 TERMINATION
CERTIFICATION OF BUSINESS RECORDS
I, the undersigned,[name] with the understanding that I am
subject to criminal penalty under the laws of [name of country] for an intentionally
false declaration, declare that I am employed by/associated with:
[name of business from which documents are sought]
in the position of: and by reason of my position am
[business position or title]
authorized and qualified to make this declaration.
Each of the records attached hereto is a record in the custody of the above-named
1. was made at or near the time of the occurrence of the matters set forth
therein by (or from information transmitted by) a person with
knowledge of those matters;
2. was kept in the course of a regularly conducted business activity;
3. was made by the business as a regular practice; and
4. if not an original record, is a duplicate of the original.
[date of execution]
[place of execution]
EXPLANATORY NOTE ON THE TREATY ON MUTUAL
LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS BETWEEN THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND FRANCE
The following understandings regarding the application of certain provisions
of the treaty are agreed between the Parties.
Both Parties understand that, for the United States, the provisions of the
Treaty do not create a new right on the part of a private person to obtain assistance,
to suppress or exclude any testimony or evidence, or to impede the execution of a
request. However, such rights of private persons as otherwise exist under United
States law in this regard continue in effect.
During the negotiation of Article 3 of the Treaty, both Parties discussed the
competent authorities from whom requests under the Treaty must emanate. The
Parties noted the substantial number of authorities for the United States, aside from
prosecutors, that were capable of being competent to initiate requests for mutual
legal assistance. These authorities are not judicial authorities but are comparable to
them since their requests, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 1, are
presented in the framework of "investigations or proceedings in respect of criminal
offenses the punishment of which, at the time of the request for assistance, is a
matter for the judicial authorities of the Requesting State." Under United States
law, these authorities are those that are responsible for the investigations of criminal
offenses, including the referral of matters to prosecutors for criminal prosecution.
The Parties accordingly agreed not to attempt to list exhaustively in the
Treaty the numerous state and federal authorities that fall under this definition,
particularly because the inadvertent omission of one from the list could diminish the
value of the Treaty to the United States. To illustrate this diversity, the United
States, however, has agreed to provide, for the purposes of illustration only, the
following short list:
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Trade Commission
Food and Drug Administration
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Internal Revenue Service
Securities and Exchange Commission
Trustees in Bankruptcy.
In any case, to facilitate In the identification of competent authorities of the
United States by France, the two States agreed that the requests that are presented
by the Central Authority of the United States of America will establish the
competence of the requesting authorities for the purposes of this Treaty.
The first part of paragraph 1 sets forth the principle that, with the consent of
the Requested State, persons designated by the Requesting State (for example, the
requesting authority, the defendant, and the counsel for such persons) shall be
allowed to travel to the territory of the Requested State to be present and to assist
during the execution of the request. The request for legal assistance should request
the presence of these persons. For purposes of this Article, the term "Requested
State" refers to the authorities in the Requested State who are authorized to
approve or consent to the requested presence.
The second part of paragraph 1 commits the two Parties to accommodate
such a request so that the deposition obtained in the Requested State may be used in
the Requesting State in compliance with its internal procedure. The scope of this
commitment, however, may be limited, notably by the application of Articles 6 and 7
relating respectively to the denial of requests for legal assistance and to
postponement of execution of such requests. This commitment does not preclude
that, in certain cases, which in practice shall be most exceptional, the authority
entrusted with the execution of the request may determine that the presence and
assistance of the designated persons are not possible in a specific case.
The discussions relating to Article 23 demonstrated the Parties' concerns to
execute requests for mutual legal assistance in the least expensive manner, in
particular those requests to obtain depositions in the United States. As a result, the
Parties agreed that the United States will arrange and pay for the audio recording of
a deposition requested by French authorities and its transmission to French
authorities. Sealed in a container, the audio recording will be accompanied by a
report or a declaration of the competent authority in the United States certifying the
circumstances in which the deposition was taken. This document will mention the
name of the authority conducting the proceeding, the identity of the person being
deposed, and a statement whether or not the person was deposed under oath. The
document should be signed by the deponent or, in case the deponent refuses or is
unable to sign the document, the document should contain a statement to that effect.
On the other hand, the costs of services furnished by private parties, such as those
resulting from the transcription of depositions by a "court reporter," will be paid
for by French authorities.