2Our proposed Extradition Bill is designed to give New Zealand a modern, fit-for-purpose extradition regime that is sufficiently flexible to survive future challenges, but also sufficiently robust to ensure that New Zealand values are protected.
3As we signalled in our Issues Paper, our Bill would provide for an integrated scheme that would achieve the necessary and appropriate balance between protecting the rights of those for whom extradition is sought, and providing an efficient mechanism for extradition.
5We have recommended that all extradition applications should be heard in one court, the District Court, with appropriate pathways for appeal and review. We have suggested that, given the complexity of extradition proceedings, consideration is given to establishing a small pool of judges who would in fact adjudicate extradition cases. While we have actively considered whether “more serious” extraditions should be heard in the High Court, we have rejected that option. The seriousness of the crimes for which the extradition is sought is not a predictor of complexity, or of human rights concerns. Moreover, splitting extraditions would risk diluting the pool of experience judges will develop. There is an argument that the High Court might deal with standard extraditions while simplified extraditions might remain in the District Court. This runs into the same difficulty of impeding the consolidation of judicial expertise; therefore, if it was felt that standard extradition proceedings should be in the High Court then we would recommend that it deals with all extradition matters.
9In our view, both the interests of law enforcement and the administration of justice require that extradition processes be as efficient as possible, taking account of the need to protect the rights of the person sought.
10Our proposed Bill creates a procedure that we believe will make the extradition process far more efficient. We recommend a number of innovations designed to improve efficiency. The Notice of Intention to Proceed, for instance, will clearly identify the basis on which a person is sought for extradition, and give that person the information needed to defend the case. This will reduce unnecessary confusion. We have also recommended a number of case management mechanisms, such as an Issues Conference, at which likely issues can be raised at an early stage. This means that if a person sought for extradition is going to raise human rights concerns, early judicial attention can be brought to how those issues will be resolved.
11We recommend a single appeal route rather than the current regime, which almost encourages a multiplicity of separate appeals, judicial reviews and habeas corpus applications. We do not think it is appropriate to remove habeas corpus or judicial review procedures. We prefer instead to make the need for such reviews as limited as possible, and provide that where they are required they should be dealt with at the same time as the appeal process.
12We have placed great emphasis in our Bill on protecting the rights of the person sought. The new Act would provide for real protection of rights where necessary. Perhaps most importantly from a human rights perspective is the role that we see the new Central Authority performing in making a judgement as to whether an extradition request ought to proceed, and in formally taking carriage of the extradition proceeding.
13Human rights concerns are reflected in two principal ways:
(b) We have also given the Court two principle roles in protecting the rights of the respondent:
(i) The Court would be given a meaningful judicial role in evaluating the evidence of alleged offending in standard extradition proceedings, but one that does not go as far as requiring a pre-emptive trial of the case in New Zealand. It is an important feature of the nature of extradition proceedings that the person whose extradition is sought is not on trial. Evaluating the strength of the evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the person is to be left to the trial court in the requesting country.