2.4To understand the way New Zealand’s extradition laws operate, it is helpful to know how the law of extradition has developed internationally. Its main period of growth was in the 19th century, with significant extradition treaties being negotiated between the United Kingdom, European countries, and the United States. This network of bilateral extradition treaties was the first of what are now described as the classical mechanisms of international cooperation in criminal matters.
2.5The Extradition Act 1870 (Imp) established a statutory process for giving effect to extradition treaties. That process continues to be echoed in New Zealand’s own Extradition Act 1999, as well as in that of other common law countries. Many of its principles and safeguards continue to have importance in extradition law today.
2.6While the United Kingdom conducted its extradition relations with foreign states through bilateral treaties, extradition within the British Empire was enabled under the Fugitive Offenders Act 1881 (Imp). As countries gained independence from the United Kingdom, it became necessary for the sovereign Commonwealth countries to develop a new basis on which to extradite between one another. In 1966, the Law Ministers of the Commonwealth developed a statement of agreed extradition principles, now called the London Scheme for Extradition within the Commonwealth (previously the London Scheme on the Rendition of Fugitive Offenders). Each member country agreed to enact legislation to enable the extradition of persons in accordance with the London Scheme.
2.7In recent decades, modern transportation and communication technology, and the increasing freedom of movement of people, have led to a growth in international crime. In the words of one commentator:
The internationalisation of economic activity and of transport goes hand-in-hand with a dramatic internationalisation of crime. Each day, it becomes painfully clear to the police and the judiciary how great the energy, speed, mobility and sophistication of offenders are and, by contrast, how difficult it is to overcome the barriers created for the police and judiciary out of differences in national legal systems and out-moded concepts of national sovereignty.
2.8Modern international criminal activity, such as transnational organised crime, drug trafficking, international terrorism, and cross-border money laundering, have made the need for an effective and efficient system of extradition between countries more pronounced. A plethora of multilateral treaties addressing different types of international criminal activity have arisen, many containing extradition provisions.