Archive for March 17, 2017
The US embassy in New Zealand has refused to waive diplomatic immunity for one of its staff members New Zealand police want to question. An incident involving a diplomat from the US embassy was brought to the attention of New Zealand police on Sunday, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) spokesman says. MFAT was asked by police on Monday to request a waiver of immunity from the US to enable police to undertake investigations, and did so that day. The US government has on Friday declined to waive the diplomat’s immunity. Therefore, MFAT has asked the US to withdraw the staff member in question from New Zealand. Police were called to an address in Lower Hutt but the man, who works at the embassy in Wellington as a technical attache, had left, apparently nursing a broken nose and a black eye, TVNZ reported. A US government spokesman says as a matter of policy “we do not comment on the specifics of matters under investigation”. “We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US government personnel. ”Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated.”
Indonesia has summoned the British ambassador in Jakarta after a cruise ship crashed into coral reefs off the coast of Indonesia earlier this month. The Caledonian Sky, a 4,200-tonne cruise ship, was on a voyage organised by a London company when it smashed into the reefs at low tide around Kri, one of hundreds of tiny islands in Raja Ampat, West Papua province. The region attracts many travellers and divers – those on the ship were on a bird-watching expedition – as it is one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on the planet. Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs, summoned British ambassador Moazzam Malik to Jakarta on Friday. “I’m disappointed to learn about the damage to this coral reef in West Papua – as we are with any environmental incident that occurs in Indonesia or anywhere else in the world,” Malik told reporters following a meeting at Pandjaitan’s office. “We hope the matter can be resolved quickly between the Indonesian authorities and the company that is responsible for this accident.” Further damage to the coral reef was caused when numerous attempts to free the ship using a tug boat failed. The ship, carrying 79 crew members and 102 passengers, was later refloated during high tide. “He [the captain] attempted to break free from the reefs and made the damage even worse even though he was ordered to stop,” Pandjaitan said. The Indonesian government has said that the British captain piloting the ship could face criminal charges, while marine researchers have estimated that it could take decades and millions of dollars to restore the coral.