Justice not served in Australia extradition cases muddle - Andrew Little
A number of New Zealanders who have been extradited to Australia to face charges - only to be sent back here or put in immigration detention centres - is concerning, Justice Minister Andrew Little says.
Justice Minister Andrew Little has been trying to get a better understanding of Australia's extradition rules on alleged offenders. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly
In the past 18 months five New Zealanders accused of crimes, as serious as rape and child abuse, were sent to Australia to face charges, only to be refused entry at the border or sent back without facing trial, he said.
Mr Little told Morning Report that one of the five people was being held in immigration detention while the others were in New Zealand.
He said there seemed to be conflict between the immigration authority - a federal department driven by new strict immigration rules - and state authorities who were applying for extraditions for alleged offenders.
"The two, whether they have been not talking to each other or talking just past each other, but something has fallen down in the middle and that has meant that people who had been subject to extradition applications actually haven't ended up facing justice," Mr Little said.
He said he observed the situation after a Supreme Court decision in one of those cases highlighted the need for him to make a decision on extradition.
"That's required me to enquire into exactly what has been going on. I've now discovered what's happened in that last 18 months or so with people in various cases of people who have had extradition orders against them, returning to Australia and either being denied criminal justice visas or being detained in immigration detention or being sent back.
However, Mr Little said there was little to be done on New Zealand's behalf to help resolve the situation because no charges were laid by New Zealand nor were the offences committed here in those five cases.
"One case I'm aware of the prosecuting authority had just withdrawn the charges because they decided it was just impossible to get the person back," he said.
As a result justice was not served in such cases, he said.
"The victims in Australia - they don't get justice because the person who has allegedly offended against them, they don't see them to get to be called to account."
Mr Little said he would be in discussions with the relevant Australian counterparts to try and get clarification on the rules.