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New Streamlined Extradition Laws Proposed

New Streamlined Extradition Laws Proposed

The Law Commission today released its Issues Paper, Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Paper contains information on current extradition law and draft proposals for consultation which could create significant reform in this area. The Commission’s proposals are intended to promote discussion and generate submissions prior to the preparation of the final report to be submitted to Parliament. Submissions can be made online at www.lawcom.govt.nz and close 2 March 2015.

One of the key proposals to reforming extradition law would provide for a simpler two-category approach to categorising countries based on their relationship to New Zealand. The categorisation would influence how an extradition request is advanced. Category 1 would comprise a small group of New Zealand’s closest extradition partners, and Category 2 would include all other countries.

On the proposed two-category approach, Geoff McLay – one of the Commissioners leading the review – said that the Commission considered that any further distinctions add unnecessary complexity, both in terms of understanding and administration.

This would mean that the same procedure would apply to requests from virtually all countries.

Geoff McLay emphasised the extensive safeguards in the proposed Bill.

“While we recognise that there may be some concern over the breadth of Category 2, particularly given just how different countries’ legal and justice systems are, other safeguards in the proposed new Act can be relied on to prevent extraditions on a case-by-case basis to countries over which there are real concerns.”

The other key proposals to the extradition legislation would:

• create distinct requirements and procedures for each of the two categories.
Countries in Category 2 would only be required to present to the court a summary of the evidence against the person sought on which the court would determine eligibility for extradition.

• give the court the sole responsibility for considering nearly all of the grounds for refusing surrender. Only a few grounds would be reserved for sole consideration by the Minister.

• establish a central authority, whose role it would be to vet foreign countries’ applications in the first instance. The central authority would also be formally responsible for the oversight of the way in which extraditions are conducted in New Zealand.

The full Issues Paper, Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (IP37), is available from our website at http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/project/extradition-and-mutual-assistance/issues-paper.

-ENDS-

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