Lawyers for Liberty

Press Statement

1 July 2014

Diplomatic Immunity is Not a Licence to Commit Crimes

Lawyers for Liberty is shocked and appalled that the Malaysian Government has asserted diplomatic immunity to protect Muhammad Rizalman from what is obviously a serious case of sexual assault and burglary, acts of which are unconnected with his diplomatic role.

This is a clear abuse of the diplomatic immunity privilege that will certainly jeopardise the inter-governmental relations between Malaysia and New Zealand and also possibly with other States as Malaysia is not able to guarantee that its diplomats will be able to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving host State.

We remind the Malaysian Government that diplomatic immunity is essential for diplomats to work without harassment in a foreign state, but it is not a licence to commit crimes and certainly not to be used in the present case.

The idea that Muhammad Rizalman, an officer from the Ministry of Defence should only be court martialed for the alleged crime is preposterous as this is not a disciplinary issue but serious criminal offences that have been allegedly perpetrated against a woman.

Further, the alleged crimes were committed in New Zealand and obviously, the most convenient forum to try the crime would be in New Zealand and it would be absurd and extremely burdensome to get all the witnesses and evidence to be brought to Malaysia.

New Zealand is one of the world’s best governed states. It has consistently ranked among the best for good governance, democracy, rule of law, human rights, development and there is no reason why Muhammad Rizalman cannot receive a fair trial in New Zealand.

We therefore call upon the Malaysian Government to waive Muhammad Rizalman’s diplomatic immunity and to extradite him immediately to New Zealand so that he can be investigated and if necessary, be tried in their court of law.

Released by:

Eric Paulsen


Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty

1 July 2014

For more information, please contact:
Off: 03-7960 5688
Mobile: 012-716 2972
Twitter: @lawyers4liberty