New Zealand Law Society - Update in extradition legislation urged

Update in extradition legislation urged

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The Law Commission has released a report, Modernising New Zealand's Extradition and Mutual Assistance Laws, which recommends repealing the Extradition Act 1999 and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 and replacing them with more modern, simplified legislation.

A draft replacement Extradition Bill would create a Central Authority with primary responsibility for managing all incoming and outgoing extradition requests.

Image of Law Commission Extradition report
Replace "complex and convoluted" law.  

The bill would include a core statutory process for dealing with incoming extradition requests from any country. This could be supplemented by bilateral extradition treaties in certain limited ways.

The Law Commission proposes a two-category approach to extradition, with a simplified procedure for requests from Australia and approved countries. Requests from other countries would be processed using the standard extradition procedure.

A draft Mutual Assistance Bill strengthens the core statutory process for dealing with incoming mutual assistance requests from any country. This could be supplemented by international treaties and conventions.

The bill broadens the types of assistance that New Zealand can provide to foreign countries in criminal investigations and prosecutions. It also clarifies the relationship between the Act and other mutual assistance arrangements between regulatory agencies and their foreign counterparts.

Law Commission President Sir Grant Hammond says the current two Acts are complex and convoluted statutes that are difficult to follow.

"Both statutes fail to come to grips with the realities of New Zealand's place within a globalised environment. They fail to provide a framework through which to balance New Zealand's role within the international community and the values important to New Zealanders in this context, which include protecting the rights of those accused of crimes overseas and protecting those here from unwarranted investigations from abroad," Sir Grant says.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says the Government will consider the Law Commission recommendations and respond "in due course".

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