Diplomatic immunity: too easily exploited

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Chris_Morris, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Yes, it's irritating.

    But you're wrong in one respect: they have to obey the law.
    However, in principle, this means that they are sent back (retracted) and get a trial in their own country. If what they did isn't a violation there, only then they should get free. Also the penalty may differ.

    Behind it is the same sort of reason why the US tries not to recognize the International Court. Most (western) countries think badly about that, especially because the US wants to apply it to other personnel than diplomatic personnel alone.


    Cees



    (And, please, do not derail this thread into the political realm, folks. We would have to close it!)
    C.
     
  3. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I've always considered diplomats to be law-abiding citizens that would normally respect the laws of whatever country they are in. Like everything else though, there are just a few bad apples.

    I have heard a couple of times where the offender's country orders them to return home to face the consequences. I am sure that sometimes nothing is done but they do lose their status as a diplomat.

    Some sick people...

    Glenn
     
  4. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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    I didnt' know about the retraction. The way they explained it here was that if he could claim immunity, he would walk scot-free. I still don't understand the point of it though. Why let them go at all? I don't have a problem with sending them back to their own country, but it should be immediate, they should be on the next plane out.



    *Update* - He is free. The county is seeking to have the DI revoked, and the Ambassador has been contacted, but it is a waiting game. Of course, by the time anything is settled:
    1. Who knows where he would be
    2. He may find a real girl to molest
     
  5. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I suspect his movements are very restricted now. It's in the interest of the ambassy, of course, and, furthermore, perhaps the penalties for his crime in his own country are even more harsh than in the US. Or at least the prisons.


    Cees
     
  6. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    Diplomat loses appeal
    A russian diplomat killed one woman and severely injured another during a drunk driving accident in Ottawa Canada.



    He was sentenced to 4 years in a minimum security prison.
    He also had two DUI priors.

    Justice? Not in my opinion.
     
  7. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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    4 years is a lot more than the zero to 100 days served by several low and high profile motor vehicle homicide cases in the US. I'd take 4 years than have US diplomats losing their feet for jaywalking.
     
  8. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    Too little, too late.
    2 DUI priors, one woman is dead and the other will never be the same. 4 years in a minimum security prison is nothing. Who knows, maybe he'll get out early on good behaviour. If Russia uses that system.

    EDIT: The maximum sentence in Russia was 5 years. He didn't even get that.
     
  9. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    Here's a bit more...
    [​IMG]

    Found the article here
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    To add just a bit to Cees’ points, the concept behind Diplomatic Immunity goes back at least to the 17th century (in Europe) when a set of rules protecting diplomats from prosecution was codified. This was done to allow diplomats to do their work without hindrance (having their heads sent back as a sign of rejection during negotiations, for example).

    IIRC, the Greeks may have accorded some form of this during their golden age.

    In any case, these rules of conduct were limited to Europe and were often ignored, as diplomats were often considered spies and were locked up if war broke out (Napoleon imprisoned quite a few foreign diplomats). This lead to the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) immediately after Napoleon was defeated. While the main purpose was to redraw the European political map, it formalized the rules pertaining to Diplomats.

    These rules have since been adopted by all (nearly all) nations.

    Bottom line is that one country won’t send diplomats to another country unless they believe that their diplomats will be protected.

    The protection accorded to diplomats extends to each nation’s embassy. This is why the international community looked unfavorably on Iran when the U.S. Embassy was occupied.

    While there may be (and have been) abuses by individuals, it is considered almost impossible for diplomats to function without protection. Often problems could have been avoided by the host country—Canada, for example could have revoked the diplomatic status of Knayazev when he was involved in any of those four accidents.
     
  11. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    I agree with Lew and Cees, these are neccessary and importnat international rules that need to be in place. Imagine the reverse scenario where the USA sends a well-respected diplomat to Iran for nuclear talks and they pin a trumped up charge on him to embarass the USA. Without diplomatic immunity he would have to stand trial in Iran and be subject to their punishments (beheading?) Could you even imagine our outrage for such a thing. But without absolute diplomatic immunity such scenarios would be possible.

    Diplomatic immunity isn't very useful when visiting a friendly nation, but when negotiating with a very powerful and hostile one it is crucial.
     
  12. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    I agree with you guys for the most part but I think that when deaths are involved we should see the diplomatic immunity removed. There must be a line that you (the diplomat) can't cross.

    PS- I hope Canada isn't seen as very powerful and hostile towards Russia. [​IMG]
     
  13. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    My understanding is that Canada could not of its own volition have "revoked" immunity, they could only ask Russia to waive it, which they ordinarily wouldn't. Canada alternatively could declare the diplomat persona non grata, which in effect would mean expelling him, but that's also seen as a diplomatic snub -- although realistically before it got to that stage, Russia would've had the sense to withdraw the scumbag voluntarily.

    As Lew's pointed out, immunity was required to protect diplomats. Most no doubt are law-abiding, if anything one guesses that it may be immediate family members who are more likely to push the boundaries or outright abuse the privilege. Save maybe for UN diplomats in New York City who seem to constantly rack up parking tickets... [​IMG]
     
  14. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Nobody's quoted Lethal Weapon 2 yet?

    Bad guy holds up card: "Diplomatic immunity!"

    Danny Glover shoots him: "It's just been revoked!"

    You mean to tell me that wasn't documentary-level realism? [​IMG]
     
  15. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Wasn't that also the one where he pulled down an entire house with a rope tied to a pickup?

    LOL [​IMG]
     
  16. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Damn Haggai! You beat me to it! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY! [​IMG]

    Seriously, that case of the Russian diplomat in Canada just cheesed me off to no end. However, I recognize the need for diplomatic immunity. Thankfully it isn't quite as cut-and-dried as in Lethal Weapon 2. [​IMG]
     
  17. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    There is - the law. As I said before, diplomatic "immunity" does not mean that you can violate the laws of the country you're in. Just that you are judged for it in your own country.

    (Yes, I know what that could mean, in certain cases.)


    Cees
     
  18. Micheal

    Micheal Screenwriter

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    Exactly. Not really fair in certain circumstances.
     
  19. andrew markworthy

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    People are overlooking in all this that a lot of nations revoke diplomatic immunity if a diplomat commits a serious crime. [E.g. I can think of a case where a member of the US diplomatic service had his immunity revoked by the US government when he was caught trying to solicit an underage girl in the UK]. Generally, NATO countries and other close allies will trust each other to see justice done.

    The trouble generally comes with nations whom we mistrust - and equally, where they mistrust us. Bear in mind also that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility for a diplomat to be framed on trumped-up charges. This is naturally something we think only hostile states will do to our guys, but of course the reality is different - all countries are more than capable of playing dirty tricks. One of the key reasons hostile states may be unwilling to remove immunity is that they can never be certain that the diplomat hasn't been framed.

    Thus, chances are that in those instances, diplomatic immunity will not be revoked. The reason we put up with this is because we have to think of the security of our diplomats abroad. If we don't play the game, then nasty things can start to happen (and remember that a high proportion of diplomatic staff, in spite of any cover story they may have, are spies). I know this is sickening at times, but pragmatically, that is how the world works.
     
  20. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    And it's also worth noting that for every time diplomatic immunity is abused, there are a bunch of others where it's essential. Unfortunately, like any system, there are bad people that will make the entire system look bad. All you can do at that point is say that the ideal itself is worth having the occasional person go free that shouldn't.

    Of course, I can't stand diplomats. The little bastards were always slipping into my cities and giving the Germans the power of flight when otherwise they would have just discovered gunpowder. [​IMG]
     

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