Diplomatic Immunity -More of misuse than use : Guest Post by Shruti Srivastava, NUALS

Senior Indian Diplomat Anil Verma faces allegations of attacking his wife after a heated argument. Fearing threat to her life, his wife Paromita, has gone into hiding with their five year old son.
Mr. Anil Verma, who is the third senior diplomat in the High Commission, had reportedly sought diplomatic immunity from prosecution after being questioned by the police. The Indian Government has called him back and says that charges will be probed according to the laws of the land. The United Kingdom government is not satisfied with this step and is asking for the diplomatic immunity of him to be waived. The Ministry of External Affairs refused the same and said that diplomatic immunity cannot be waived just on the grounds of domestic violence.
This issue has opened a Pandora’s Box. It has brought forth the history of misuse of iimmunity given to diplomats and the sheer abuse of human rights by the highly respected diplomats of the world. The term ‘Domestic violence’ carries with it the hopes and grievances of millions of women all over the world. The decision taken by the Indian Government would weigh its position in terms of humanity.
Diplomatic immunity is a concept in international law where foreign government officials are not subject to the jurisdiction of local courts and other authorities. The history of diplomatic immunity dates back to the times of Persian King Darius the Great and Athenians, when the ill-treatment of heralds led to wars. The Second Punic War and Kandalur War are results of the same. Genghis Khan and Mongols strongly vowed for the rights of the diplomats.
Modern diplomatic immunity evolved when the British Parliament guaranteed diplomatic immunity to foreign ambassadors in 1709. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 codified most modern and diplomatic and consular practices, including diplomatic immunity. More than 160 nations are parties to these treaties. The level of immunity varies with the ranks of the officers. It is also given that diplomatic agents and members of their immediate families are immune from all criminal prosecution and most civil law suits in the host country. But they are not exempted from the same in their home countries.
In London allegations of drink-driving, shoplifting, robbery and even human trafficking have been leveled at foreign diplomats. It is reported that people are trafficked into Britain and are physically and sexually abused, house bound, and treated like slaves. In India, instances range from the killing of driver by the son of Senegalese ambassador to the slapping of a senior journalist by the wife of a diplomat.
‘Diplomatic immunity has become diplomatic impunity’, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, one of Britain’s foremost lawyers, told the BBC. He suggested that diplomats should be tried by British courts and or have their cases referred to the International Criminal Court of Justice before a British judge.
In the case of Mr. Anil Verma, the British Government said that it does not tolerate foreign justice breaking the law. It would be interesting to see how the Indian Government treats a person who has violated somebody’s natural right on a world stage.
Would it accept to give natural justice to the woman harassed or be adamant to its decision in the name of national pride? It is a situation which is turning out to be a litmus-test for the government . the ball now lies in our court!

1 comments: (+add yours?)

sant said...

a good article, but diplomatic immunity must not be viewed as diplomatic impunity neither it should be abused.

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