Extradition laws 'cumbersome'

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 14:46 28/03/2014

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"Overly cumbersome" laws around extradition and foreign assistance in criminal matters need to be reviewed, the Law Commission says.

The commission today announced plans to review laws relating to New Zealand's co-operation with other countries for the investigation and prosecution of crime.

Formal international co-operation in criminal matters is governed by the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 and the Extradition Act 999, as well as treaties.

Lead Commissioner for the review, Geoff McLay, said the review aimed to find the correct balance between having an efficient procedure and protecting people's rights.

"[The acts] are overly cumbersome," McLay said.

"What we've seen is that because of the way the act is written a lot gets challenged about the meanings of parts of the statute and treaties. Cases take a long time to get through court."

Other comparative jurisdictions have been through reform processes recently, he said.

Law Commission president Sir Grant Hammond said the development of transnational crime, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism and corruption, had attracted international attention to the laws in recent decades.

"The risks posed by crime reach across borders due to the factors of globalisation, technological change, and increasing international travel and co-operation between countries," Hammond said.

"It is part of New Zealand's role as a good international citizen to ensure its framework for international co-operation in criminal matters is effective."

The public and other interested parties would have the opportunity to express their views in the review later this year, he said.

The report is due to be published next year.

* Extradition is an official process allowing for the surrender of a suspected or convicted criminal from one state to another. A country requesting extradition may rely on either an international treaty or on the domestic law of the foreign country. The act does not require a foreign country to have a treaty to request extradition from New Zealand.

* The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 allows for requests to be made to New Zealand by prescribed foreign countries, convention countries, and all other foreign countries on a case-by-case basis or ad hoc basis.

Prescribed foreign countries include Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China; Niue; The Republic of Korea; The United Kingdom; and The United States.

Source: http://www.crownlaw.govt.nz/pagepub/docs/afa/extradition.asp

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