Govt advised to request North Korea to lift diplomatic immunity of embassy staff

PETALING JAYA: The government must request North Korea to lift the diplomatic immunity if it wants Second Secretary Hyon Kwang Song to be called in by the police.

According to G25 spokesperson Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin said generally, only diplomatic officers who are accredited to the host country and who act in the course of their official duties are granted diplomatic immunity.

"I am not sure whether diplomatic immunity can be granted by the host country for the crime of murder.

"The host country can also request the sending country, in this case North Korea, to waive the diplomatic immunity of this person. Should North Korea do so the diplomatic officer can be charged for murder in Malaysia," the former diplomat said when contacted, today.

According to the rules governing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, unless the North Korean government complies with the government's request to lift the diplomatic immunity status of the said person, no action can be taken by the police.

The Convention which lists both Malaysia and North Korea among its signatories protects all diplomatic grade officers from prosecution under civil and criminal laws.

Those officers include secretaries, counsellor, minister counsellor and ambassador which forms part of a standard diplomatic mission.

Speaking to a diplomat on the condition of anonymity, he said others who enjoy diplomatic immunity also included defence and trade attaches.

"Office staff such as clerks, receptionist and drivers are not afforded such privileges," he said when contacted by theSun, today.

The diplomat suggested that the government can exercise its rights under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 of "Persona Non Grata" against any foreign individual, including those who are enjoying diplomatic immunity in an effort to expel them back to their country of origin.

"However the declaration can only be sought should the government indicate if there is a clear violation of our laws committed by the individual.

"If in this instance the North Korean government refuses to recall the individual, the government may not recognise the person as part of the diplomatic mission, giving them leverage for the police to take action against the individual," he added.

This comes following the police disclosing that a North Korean diplomat and a staff of the North Korean national airline are being sought by them in the probe of Kim Jong-Nam's assassination.