Crime Immunity and Diplomacy

david shearerThe Botched Case of the Malaysian Diplomat

Weekend Exclusive from David Shearer,MP, for KIN
Labour Foreign Affairs spokesperson

On May 10th, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Murray McCully were told that a young New Zealand woman had allegedly suffered burglary and attempted rape by a Malaysian diplomat.

Their number one priority should have been standing up and getting justice for her.

Instead, amid jargon, diplomatic immunity, MFAT, waivers, and excuses, they seemed to forget she even existed.

They sat on the alleged crime for weeks, hoping it would go away, and never intending to tell the public.

When the story hit the headlines, they selectively released the correspondence they wanted us to see.

That correspondence contradicted Malaysia’s Foreign Minister – who said New Zealand allowed the diplomat to return to Malaysia – greatly embarrassing a friendly country that had behaved with the utmost integrity.

When Murray McCully finally had to front up with the full story, he blamed his staff.

He also apologised to John Key – when the first and most important apology should have been to the assaulted New Zealand woman.

Now, John Key has criticised the MFAT staff member through the media. This is wrong on so many levels:

It could prejudice any independent investigation.

It forces a staff member to take the blame for a problem that is stems more from systemic problems in MFAT, caused by the Minister McCully’s ham-fisted restructure last year.

Surely the Minister should take responsibility for his own Ministry.

One good thing has come out of this. The diplomat is being sent back to New Zealand to be tried. So we’re back to where we should be. His victim will see justice being done.

But would it be too much to ask for our government to behave with integrity in these situations – irrespective of who’s watching?