Extradition is an official process allowing for the surrender of a suspected or convicted criminal from one state to another. A country requesting extradition may rely on either an international treaty or on the domestic law of the foreign country. New Zealand’s extradition procedures are laid out in the Extradition Act 1999 (the Act) which governs the extradition of persons to and from New Zealand. The Act does not require a foreign country to have a treaty to request extradition from New Zealand.
Requests to New Zealand by these countries is governed by the standard extradition procedure in Part 3 of the Act. A request is sent through diplomatic channels to the Minister of Justice and then to the District Court to issue an arrest warrant for the person sought. The person sought is brought before the Court to determine their eligibility for surrender. The decision of the Court may be appealed. If a person is determined to be eligible for surrender, the Minister of Justice will make a final surrender order.
Evidence is required to be submitted with an extradition request. In order for a request to be successful, a prima facie standard of evidence is required. The prima facie standard requires a request to be supported by evidence that would provide sufficient grounds to commit a person to trial in New Zealand.
Part 4 of the Act provides a streamlined “backed warrants” extradition procedure with the Australia and the United Kingdom. This procedure allows a New Zealand District Court Judge to endorse an arrest warrant that has been issued by a court or a judge in the requesting country. The person may then be surrendered for trial in these countries without establishing a prima facie case against them.
Part 5 of the Act allows countries with which New Zealand has no formal extradition relationship and that are not members of the Commonwealth to request extradition from New Zealand. The Minister of Justice decides whether or not a certain case should proceed on the basis of:
This Part is also used to apply the Act to requests made to New Zealand under multilateral treaties (e.g. United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime). If request does proceed, the standard procedure in Part 3 is used.
Request for extradition by New Zealand can be made pursuant to any relevant treaty. However, the Extradition Act allows New Zealand to request the extradition of person from any country. Whether another country is able to extradite to New Zealand in the absence of a treaty is dependent on its domestic law.
New Zealand has concluded four extradition treaties (text of the treaties is available on the NZLII website):
However, New Zealand may also be bound as a successor state to extradition treaties concluded on its behalf by the United Kingdom prior to independence:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Solomon Islands, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ecuador, Finland, France, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Italy, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Monaco, Mexico, Nauru, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Norfolk Island, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Uruguay.
These treaties may also apply between New Zealand and other successor states.
Where there is an extradition treaty in force between New Zealand and another country, the provisions of the Act must be construed to give effect to the treaty.
For any enquiries related to extradition, please contact:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Private Bag 18 901
Ph: +64 4 439 8000