Shortcomings? Inquiry into MFAT handling of accusation against diplomat

News from NZ Government
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced a Ministerial Inquiry will be held into the way the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handled the case of a Malaysian High Commission official accused of an attack on a Wellington woman.

“A thorough and transparent Inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public,” Mr McCully says.

The Inquiry will focus on the following areas:

• the appropriateness and robustness of procedures to deal with circumstances in which a waiver of diplomatic immunity is sought by the New Zealand Government, and;
• the events that took place in the Malaysian diplomat case and the management of the request for a waiver of diplomatic immunity.

“Former Treasury Secretary John Whitehead will lead the Inquiry and his findings will be released publically.

“The Inquiry report will recommend ways to rectify shortcomings and strengthen processes for the future management of diplomatic immunity cases.

“These events have had a serious impact on a young woman and have quite rightly undermined public confidence in the ability of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is important that we do all we can to improve the management of these cases.

“The Malaysian Government has placed its confidence in the integrity of our judicial system and it is important that we protect it. I do not wish to compromise either the inquiry or any criminal proceedings by commenting further,” Mr McCully says.

News from NZ First
The latest information emerging from court documents in the Malaysian diplomat case clearly points to Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials not acting in isolation from the government, says New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.

“On May 10 Diplomat Rizalman appeared at court, and was granted bail and name suppression. The granting of name suppression could only have occurred with him subjecting himself to New Zealand legal jurisdiction.

“The bail conditions, included surrendering his passport in the Wellington District Court within two days, that is, by May 12. So, why didn’t he surrender his passport?

“Three days later on May 15 ‘at the request of police’ bail conditions were removed which begs the question, who authorised the police to change their stance.

“To suggest that a middling MFAT official authorised a change in police actions does not make sense from either a law enforcement position or MFAT decision.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs was briefed on May 10, the Prime Minister was briefed on May 12, so the government needs to explain why the passport wasn’t surrendered and why the police changed their position,” Mr Peters says.

 

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