The New Zealand Law Society says the Attorney-General is its preference as a central authority for extradition.
In its comments on the Law Commission’s issues paper Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Law Society says the paper is a comprehensive and clear analysis of a challenging area of law.
It says it agrees a central authority is needed for extradition matters. Ideally, the central authority would be an independent standalone agency separate from Crown Law, the Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Justice. However, the desirability of aligning the extradition and mutual assistance regimes along with the volume of requests are unlikely to justify establishing a separate agency.
“In that context, the Law Society agrees that the Attorney-General (in practice the Solicitor-General/Crown Law) should assume the role of central authority,” it says.
“At an administrative level Crown Law would need to implement procedures to ensure its objectivity is not compromised when it is required to provide advice and act in proceedings but is also the agency whose decisions and procedures are being challenged.”
Considering the correct relationship between administrative decisions and political oversight of extradition, the Law Society says in most cases there will not be great controversy about extradition. Such decisions can be left to an official such as the Solicitor-General to certify that processes have been properly followed.
“Where a matter is reserved for ministerial decision it would be appropriate for that decision to be made by the Attorney-General in his [or her] apolitical law officer capacity (which does not preclude the possibility of consultation with Cabinet).”
The Law Society believes it is appropriate to retain a residual ministerial discretion, limited to cases where there are exceptional circumstances in the public interest, that the person not be extradited.