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Law Commission Proposes Significant Reforms

Law Commission Proposes Significant Reforms to Extradition And Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation

The Law Commission today released its Issues Paper, Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Paper presents issues with the current law and contains draft proposals which could create significant reform. 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.

The Extradition Act 1999 governs the circumstances under which another country may request suspects for trial in their country, while the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 (MACMA) provides the mechanism for another country to request assistance in investigating and prosecuting criminal offences. The Law Commission has arrived at a preliminary conclusion that both the Extradition Act and MACMA are not fit for purpose in the modern, globalised world.

Since both Acts were enacted, the landscape for transnational crime has changed significantly. Considerable advancements in technologies and communications, the rapid expansion of global markets, and ever-increasing international travel has escalated the opportunity for both suspects and the evidence and proceeds of crime to be located in different countries.

The President of the Commission, Sir Grant Hammond, said that both Acts currently do not provide the efficient and effective infrastructure that New Zealand needs in order to play its part as a good global citizen concerned, as it ought to be, with the detection of crime and the prosecution of offenders.

Sir Grant said that the importance of the protection of human rights in this review was a significant consideration when it came to the Commission making its proposals to reform both Acts.

“The Commission is concerned that these statutes not only provide an appropriate means of dealing with international crime, but that they also respect human rights and other concerns that New Zealanders care so deeply about.”

The statutes play an important gateway function in allowing foreign countries to use New Zealand’s tools to investigate, prosecute and extradite criminals, but must also fulfil an important gatekeeping function in ensuring that such investigations, prosecutions and extraditions are in line with New Zealand’s values and respect for human rights.

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.


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