Guiding principles of the MACMA review
Assistance and international obligations
12.28As the landscape for transnational crime continues to expand, there has been a vast amount of activity surrounding mutual legal assistance on the international stage. There has been a move towards recognising that foreign assistance can, and should, be provided through a wide variety of mechanisms. Countries should authorise their competent authorities to use the most efficient means to cooperate and “to co-operate with each other to the widest extent possible for the purposes of criminal matters”.
12.29New Zealand has an important role to play in combating cross-border crime. We aim to be a good world neighbour and should ensure we are assisting foreign countries in the best way that we can. Where appropriate, this will entail making available tools that New Zealand can employ in domestic criminal matters to foreign investigations and prosecutions.
Law enforcement and human rightsTop
12.30Underlying the gateway and gatekeeping roles of MACMA is the need to strike an appropriate balance between law enforcement and the protection of human rights. While mutual legal assistance does not involve the direct and far-reaching intrusion into the personal liberty of the individual that occurs in extradition, with the surrendering of a person to a foreign country for trial, it still has important human rights implications. This is because, for example, the provision of witness documents could lead to the securing of a conviction and subsequent execution of a person.
12.31International criminal cooperation presents the challenge of balancing the protection of the individual with the larger, international societal interest in combating crime.
12.32The observations made above have shaped the following guiding principles of this MACMA review:
- Powers and investigative techniques that are available to domestic competent authorities should also be available for use in response to requests for assistance in foreign investigations and prosecutions.
- New Zealand must keep pace with international developments on mutual assistance and ensure its mutual assistance regime gives effect to its international obligations in this area.
- New Zealand must ensure that it has sufficient oversight and control of any mutual assistance it provides and that it balances law enforcement needs and human rights values.
These are supplementary to the global principles of this review.