Chapter 15
Grounds for refusing assistance


15.1The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 (MACMA) includes grounds on which the Attorney-General can decline a request for assistance from a foreign country. These are set out in section 27. They are divided into two types: “mandatory” grounds for refusal and “discretionary” grounds for refusal. The grounds for refusal act as a check to ensure that providing assistance is not objectionable or contrary to New Zealand’s legal system. They provide key protections for the individuals who may be affected by requests from foreign countries, including the protection of human rights and fundamental legal values.

15.2There are similarities between these grounds and the grounds for refusing surrender under the Extradition Act 1999.630 However, whereas an extradition request involves a particular type of action that has serious implications for the individual concerned, there is considerable diversity in the type of assistance requested under MACMA and the degree to which providing this assistance impacts on individuals. Because of this, discretionary grounds are more suitable in the MACMA context, and consequently, the list of discretionary grounds is much longer under MACMA than under the Extradition Act.

15.3This chapter examines the grounds for refusing assistance in the current Act and considers whether reform is necessary, either by amendment of any existing ground, the deletion of existing grounds, or the addition of further grounds.

15.4We are not aware of particular problems that are being caused by the current grounds for refusal. We consider, however, that it is timely to review how well the grounds meet international best practice and compare with other jurisdictions.

630See ch 8.