Chapter 13
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.547 We have divided these into four categories:

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.

547Note that the term “agreements” is used in the broadest sense to cover treaties, conventions, and schemes which are political commitments and not legally binding.