Giving effect to international commitments
13.1New Zealand has made a number of commitments at an international level as to how it will provide assistance to foreign countries in criminal matters. The enactment of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 (MACMA) was, in essence, driven by the desire to give effect to some of New Zealand’s earliest commitments in this area. Over the years, the Act has been amended to give effect to later commitments that have been made.
13.2In this chapter, we look at the relationship between these international commitments and MACMA, examining whether the current approach is the best way to give effect to New Zealand’s existing and future international commitments in this area. The chapter first identifies the key international agreements under which New Zealand has made commitments (to varying degrees) on mutual assistance in criminal matters. We have divided these into four categories:
- Multilateral mutual assistance: agreements between a group of countries on mutual assistance in criminal matters generally.
- Bilateral mutual assistance treaties: agreements that New Zealand has with individual countries on mutual assistance in criminal matters generally.
- Multilateral crime agreements: agreements that relate to particular crimes and include some commitments that relate to mutual assistance in criminal matters.
- Multilateral regulatory agreements: agreements that are often more in a regulatory context and relate to a particular subject matter but include some commitments on mutual assistance in criminal matters.
13.3Our preliminary view is that the current framework in MACMA for recognising international commitments needs reform. Our preferred approach is for the Act to start from the presumption that New Zealand will give the same assistance through the same procedure to all countries. This “basic” level of assistance would be set out in MACMA. Then, depending on the country applying for the assistance and the specific mutual legal assistance commitments that New Zealand has with the requesting country (via a treaty, convention, or some other agreement), some elements of the process would be able to be varied.