Law Commission recommends speedier extradition processes

The Herald reports:

A central authority should be set up to deal with extradition requests and tailor-made rules should be followed to avoid the kind of uncertainty and delay that has characterised the Kim Dotcom case, the Law Commission says.

The growing problem of cross-border crime means the law should be changed to ensure New Zealand does its part, a review by the commission has concluded.

The report, released today, contains three key recommendations:

•Requests from the vast majority of countries should be processed in the same way. Currently, the formal extradition steps vary considerably depending on which country is making the request, and treaties in place that are mostly over 100 years old.

The commission recommends that only Australia and probably the United Kingdom should be entitled to have requests dealt with through a “simplified” process, meaning the District Court would not examine the strength of the prosecution case against the person sought.

•Tailor-made rules should guide extradition proceedings. There should be a single appeal route, rather than the current regime that enables multiple and separate appeals and judicial reviews.

The commission said the litigation surrounding the Kim Dotcom extradition case — Dotcom and his three co-accused were arrested in January 2012 — highlighted that procedural uncertainty can cause considerable delay.

•A new central authority should be created to manage all extradition requests. It would consider whether to commence an extradition proceeding, a call that would involve assessing the likelihood of success.

These proposals sound excellent. It is farcical that the DotCom case will end up taking the best part of five years and several dozen court hearings.

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