Death Penalty Cases

The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 (“MACMA”) regulates the provision of mutual assistance in death penalty cases.

New Zealand’s response to requests for mutual assistance is subject to the mandatory and discretionary grounds for refusal contained in section 27 of MACMA. These grounds for refusal apply to all countries and to all requests for assistance in criminal matters (unless a Treaty provides otherwise).

Any request involving the potential imposition of the death penalty is taken very seriously. Section 27(2)(ca) of MACMA states that the Attorney-General may refuse a request for assistance that relates to the prosecution or punishment of a person for an offence in respect of which the person may be or has been sentenced to death. However, the assistance may still be provided if the Attorney-General is satisfied that the death penalty will not be imposed, or if it is imposed will not be carried out.

This is generally by means of an assurance from the foreign country. For example, a standard assurance might read: “[The requesting country] confirms that [the accused] will not be sentenced to death or, if the death penalty is imposed, it will not be carried out”.