Interpol Red Notice and the Extradition Act of New Zealand

The Interpol and extradition cases that our team has handled over the years involve in the main bribery and corruption, embezzlement of public funds, drug trafficking and money laundering.   The extradition requests are from the Hong Kong SAR, China and the FBI.   Subject to the matter involved, not all Interpol cases need to be heard in court; the Red Notice put on a case that we once handled was removed without the case ever proceeded to court.

Extradition Act of New Zealand

The Act enables the New Zealand Government to render assistance to a foreign government to extradite a person to that country for trial, irrespective of any extradition treaty between NZ and the country.   The Act sets down stringent requirements on the information and evidence that a foreign government must furnish in respect of a wanted person to safeguard his interests.

Part 5 of the Act provides specifically for extraditions to non-treaty countries.

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol)

The Interpol conducts investigation internationally of criminal suspects at large in other countries; and the Interpol personnel in NZ usually will act:

  1. With cases of grave severity, on receipt of a warrant, by informing the law enforcement agencies to carry out searches and make arrest;
  2. With ordinary offences, by informing the Department of Internal Affairs to suspend or stop processing the residence or citizenship application of the wanted person;
  3. When the local authorities receive information from the Interpol, they will demand that the person concerned:
  4. Voluntarily returns to his country to respond to the charge against him;
  5. Responds to the charge against him; or
  6. Faces an extradition proceeding.

An extraditable offence is:

  1. One punishable in the extradition country with a minimum penalty of one-year imprisonment;
  2. One punishable under similar NZ law with similar sentence term;
  3. One within the list of extraditable offences provided by a relevant extradition treaty.

When will a NZ court disallow an extradition request?

  1. When it is an offence of a political character (e.g. political persecution);
  2. When sufficient evidence is shown that the person concerned, when extradited, will be ill-treated in the extradition country;
  3. When the person, if extradited, will probably face the death penalty, unless the extradition country undertakes that he will not be subject to such penalty;
  4. When an extradition request is religiously, racially, gender or politically motivated, and that there is no possibility for a fair trial.

Extradition Proceedings

  1. An extradition hearing is a complex process, where a judge will examine all the evidence in relation to the alleged offence, and the prosecution and the defence may call witness to give evidence, which the accused (the person wanted) generally is not required to do so;
  2. Dependent on whether a prima facie case has been established by the prosecution, a judge may grant or disallow the extradition request; and both the prosecution and the defence may appeal the decision to higher courts;
  3. Given that judicial independence is observed in NZ, a judge has full autonomy in exercising his functions, free from any interference.

More information about Interpol notices can be found here: