Diplomatic immunity
Overview
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

s are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 or prosecution under the host country's laws (although they can be expelled
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

). It was agreed as international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

 (1961), though the concept and custom have a much longer history. Many principles of diplomatic immunity are now considered to be customary law.
Encyclopedia
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

s are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 or prosecution under the host country's laws (although they can be expelled
Deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

). It was agreed as international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

 (1961), though the concept and custom have a much longer history. Many principles of diplomatic immunity are now considered to be customary law. Diplomatic immunity as an institution developed to allow for the maintenance of government relations, including during periods of difficulties and even armed conflict
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

. When receiving diplomats—who formally represent the sovereign—the receiving head of state grants certain privileges and immunities to ensure they may effectively carry out their duties, on the understanding that these are provided on a reciprocal basis.

Originally, these privileges and immunities were granted on a bilateral
Bilateralism
Bilateralism consists of the political, economic, or cultural relations between two sovereign states. For example, free trade agreements signed by two states are examples of bilateral treaties. It is in contrast to unilateralism or multilateralism, which refers to the conduct of diplomacy by a...

, ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

 basis, which led to misunderstandings and conflict, pressure on weaker states, and an inability for other states to judge which party was at fault. Various international agreements known as the Vienna Convention
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

s codified the rules and agreements, providing standards and privileges to all states.

It is possible for the official's home country to waive immunity; this tends to happen only when the individual has committed a serious crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

, unconnected with their diplomatic role (as opposed to, say, allegations of spy
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

ing), or has witnessed such a crime. Alternatively, the home country may prosecute the individual. Many countries refuse to waive immunity as a matter of course; individuals have no authority to waive their own immunity (except perhaps in cases of defection
Defection
In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. More broadly, it involves abandoning a person, cause or doctrine to whom or to which one is bound by some tie, as of allegiance or duty.This term is also applied,...

). If immunity is waived by a government so that a diplomat (or their family members) can be prosecuted, it must be because there is a case to answer and it is in the public interest to prosecute them. A 2002 example of a Colombian diplomat in London being prosecuted for the manslaughter of a man who mugged his son in a Tesco car park was deemed in the public interest once diplomatic immunity was waived by the Colombian government.

Ancient times

During the evolution of international justice, many wars were considered rebellions or unlawful by one or more combatant sides. In such cases, the servants of the "criminal" sovereign were often considered accomplices and their persons violated. In other circumstances, harbingers of inconsiderable demands were killed as a declaration of war. Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 records that when heralds of the Persian king Darius the Great demanded "earth and water" (i.e., symbols of submission) of various Greek cities, the Athenians
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 threw them into a pit and the Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

ns threw them down a well for the purpose of suggesting they would find both earth and water at the bottom, these often being mentioned by the messenger as a threat of siege.

A Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 envoy was urinated on as he was leaving the city of Tarentum
Taranto
Taranto is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base....

. The oath of the envoy: "This stain will be washed away with blood!" was fulfilled during the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

. The arrest and ill-treatment of the envoy of Raja Raja Chola by the king of Kulasekhara dynasty (Second Cheras)
Kulasekhara dynasty (Second Cheras)
Kulasekhara or Later Chera dynasty was a classical Hindu dynasty founded by the saint King Kulashekhara Varman. The dynasty ruled the whole of modern Kerala state , Guddalore and some parts of Nilgiri district and Salem - Coimbatore region in southern India between 9th and 12th centuries AD...

, which is now part of modern India, led to a naval war called Kandalur War
Kandalur War
The Kandalur War was a naval battle between Chola Empire and Later Chera forces at the port-town of Kandalur salai , near Vizhinjam in present day Kerala state, South India around the end of the 10th century AD and was the beginning of the larger military campaigns of the Chola Empire under Raja...

 in 994 CE.

Pope Gelasius I
Pope Gelasius I
Pope Saint Gelasius I was pope from 492 until his death in 496. He was the third and last bishop of Rome of African origin in the Catholic Church. Gelasius was a prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages...

 was the first pope recorded as enjoying diplomatic immunity, as it is noted in his letter Duo sunt to emperor Anastasius
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

.

In Islamic tradition, a messenger should not be harmed, even if coming from an arch-enemy and bearing a highly provocative or offensive message. A hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 attributes this sunnah
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

 to the time when Musaylimah
Musaylimah
Musaylimah or Maslamah bin Ḥabīb was one of a series of men who claimed to be a prophet around the same time as Muhammad. He is viewed as a false prophet by traditional accounts, and frequently referred to by the epithet "the Liar" .-Biography:...

 sent to the Prophet Muhammad messengers who proclaimed Musaylimah be a Prophet of Allah and the co-equal of Muhammad himself.

As diplomats by definition enter the country under safe-conduct, violating them is normally viewed as a great breach of honour, although there have been a number of cases where diplomats have been killed. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 and the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 were well known for strongly insisting on the rights of diplomats, and they would often take terrifying vengeance against any state that violated these rights. The Mongols would often raze entire cities to the ground in retaliation for the execution of their ambassadors, and invaded and destroyed the Khwarezmid Empire
Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia
The Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia from 1219 to 1221 marked the beginning of the Mongol conquest of the Islamic states, in the Mongol expansion would ultimately culminate in the conquest of virtually all of Eurasia, save for Western Europe, Fennoscandia, the Byzantine Empire, Arabia, Indian...

 after their ambassadors had been mistreated.

In 1538, King Francis I of France threatened Edmund Bonner— Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

's Ambassador to the French court and later Bishop—with a hundred strokes of the halberd as punishment for Bonner's "insolent behaviour". Though in the event the punishment was not actually inflicted, the incident clearly indicates that European monarchs at the time did not consider foreign ambassadors to be immune from punishment.

The beginnings of modern immunity

The British Parliament
Parliament of Great Britain
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and Parliament of Scotland...

 first guaranteed diplomatic immunity to foreign ambassadors in 1709, after Count Andrey Matveyev, a Russian resident in London, had been subjected to verbal and physical abuse by British bailiffs.

Modern diplomatic immunity evolved parallel to the development of modern diplomacy. In the 17th century, European diplomats realized that protection from prosecution was essential to doing their jobs and a set of rules evolved guaranteeing the rights of diplomats. These were still confined to Western Europe and were closely tied to the prerogatives of nobility. Thus, an emissary to the Ottoman Empire could expect to be arrested and imprisoned upon the outbreak of hostilities between their State and the empire. The French Revolution also disrupted this system, as the revolutionary State and Napoleon imprisoned a number of diplomats accused of working against France. More recently, the Iran hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 is universally considered a violation of diplomatic immunity. Although the hostage-takers did not officially represent the state, host countries have an obligation to protect diplomatic property and personnel. On the other hand, in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, diplomatic immunity was upheld and the embassies of the belligerents evacuated through neutral countries.

For the upper class of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, diplomatic immunity was an easy concept to understand. The first "embassies" were not permanent establishments but actual visits by high-ranking representatives, often close relatives, of the sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 or even the sovereign in person. As various permanent representations evolved, usually on a treaty basis between two powers, they were frequently staffed by relatives of the sovereign or high-ranking nobles.

War
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare was not between individuals but between their sovereigns, and the officers and officials of European governments and armies often changed employers. Truces and ceasefires were commonplace, along with fraternization between officers of enemy armies during them. When prisoners, the officers usually gave their parole and were only restricted to a city away from the theatre of war. Almost always, they were given leave to carry their personal sidearms. Even during French revolutionary wars, British scientists visited the French Academy. In such an atmosphere, it was easy to accept that some persons were immune to the laws. After all, they were still bound by strict requirements of honour and customs.

In the 19th century, the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 reasserted the rights of diplomats; and they have been largely respected since then, as the European model has spread throughout the world. Currently, diplomatic relations, including diplomatic immunity, are governed internationally by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

, which has been ratified by almost every country in the world.

In modern times, diplomatic immunity continues to provide a means, albeit imperfect, to safeguard diplomatic personnel from any animosity that might arise between nations. As one article put it: "So why do we agree to a system in which we're dependent on a foreign country's whim before we can prosecute a criminal inside our own borders? The practical answer is: because we depend on other countries to honor our own diplomats' immunity just as scrupulously as we honor theirs."

The Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978 [22 U.S.C.A. § 254a et seq.] follows the principles introduced by the Vienna Conventions. The United States has had a tendency to be generous when granting diplomatic immunity to visiting diplomats, because a large number of U.S. diplomats work in host countries less protective of individual rights. If the United States were to punish a visiting diplomat without sufficient grounds, U.S. representatives in other countries could receive harsher treatment.

In the United States, if a person with immunity is alleged to have committed a crime or faces a civil lawsuit, the State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 asks the home country to waive immunity of the alleged offender so that the complaint can be moved to the courts. If immunity is not waived, prosecution cannot be undertaken. However, the State Department still has the discretion to ask the diplomat to withdraw from her or his duties. Often, the diplomat's visas are canceled; and the diplomat and her or his family may be barred from returning to the United States. Crimes committed by members of a diplomat's family can also result in dismissal.

Exceptions to the Vienna Convention

Some countries have made reservations to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, but they are minor. Most important are the reservation by most Arab nations concerning the immunity of diplomatic bags and non-recognition of Israel. A number of countries limit the diplomatic immunity of persons who are citizens of the receiving country. As nations keep faith to their treaties with differing zeal, other rules may also apply, though in most cases this summary is a reasonably accurate approximation. It is important to note that the Convention does not cover the personnel of international organizations, whose privileges are decided upon on a case-by-case basis, usually in the treaties founding such organizations. The United Nations system (including its agencies, which comprise the most recognizable international bodies such as the World Bank and many others) has a relatively standardized form of limited immunities for staff traveling on U.N. laissez-passer; diplomatic immunity is often granted to the highest-ranking officials of these agencies. Consular officials (that do not have concurrent diplomatic accreditation) formally have a more limited form of immunity, generally limited to their official duties. Diplomatic technical and administrative staff also have more limited immunity under the Vienna Convention; for this reason, some countries may accredit technical and administrative staff as attaché
Attaché
Attaché is a French term in diplomacy referring to a person who is assigned to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency...

.

Other categories of government officials that may travel frequently to other countries may not have diplomatic passports or diplomatic immunity, such as members of the military, high-ranking government officials, ministers, and others. Many countries provide non-diplomatic official passports to such personnel, and there may be different classes of such travel documents such as official passports, service passports, and others. De facto recognition of some form of immunity may be conveyed by states accepting officials traveling on such documents, or there may exist bilateral agreements to govern such cases (as in, for example, the case of military personnel conducting or observing exercises on the territory of the receiving country).

Formally, diplomatic immunity may be limited to officials accredited to a host country, or traveling to or from their host country. In practice, many countries may effectively recognize diplomatic immunity for those traveling on diplomatic passports, with admittance to the country constituting acceptance of the diplomatic status.

Abuse

In reality, most diplomats are representatives of nations with a tradition of professional civil service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

, and are expected to obey regulations governing their behaviour and they suffer strict internal consequences (disciplinary action) if they flout local laws. In many nations a professional diplomat's career may be compromised if they (or even members of their family) disobey the local authorities or cause serious embarrassment, and such cases are, at any rate, a violation of the spirit of the Vienna Conventions.

The Vienna Convention is explicit that "without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State." Nevertheless, on some occasions, diplomatic immunity leads to some unfortunate results; protected diplomats have violated laws (including those that would be violations at home as well) of the host country and that country has been essentially limited to informing the diplomat's nation that the diplomat is no longer welcome (persona non grata
Persona non grata
Persona non grata , literally meaning "an unwelcome person", is a legal term used in diplomacy that indicates a proscription against a person entering the country...

). Diplomatic agents are not, however, exempt from the jurisdiction of their home state, and hence prosecution may be undertaken by the sending state; for minor violations of the law, the sending state may impose administrative procedures specific to the foreign service or diplomatic mission.

Violation of the law by diplomats has included espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

, smuggling, child custody
Child custody
Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.Following ratification of the United...

 law violations, and even murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

: in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1984, policewoman Yvonne Fletcher
Yvonne Fletcher
WPC Yvonne Joyce Fletcher was a British police officer fatally shot during a protest outside the Libyan embassy at St. James's Square, London, in 1984. Fletcher, who had been on duty and deployed to police the protest, died shortly afterwards at Westminster Hospital...

 was killed on the street by a person shooting from inside the Libyan embassy. The incident caused a breakdown in diplomatic relations until Libya admitted "general responsibility" in 1999.

Vehicular

A particular problem is the immunity of diplomatic vehicles to ordinary traffic regulations such as prohibitions on double parking
Double parking
-Parking parallel to a car already parked at the curb:"Double parking" can refer to the usually illegal practice of parking a vehicle to the side of a row of vehicles that is already parked next to the curb...

. Occasionally, such problems may take a more serious turn, when disregard for traffic rules leads to bodily harm or death. Illustrating how widespread this problem is that in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, between November 2003 and 2004, there were 2,590 cases of diplomatic cars caught speeding by automatic radars. The Autobahn 555 in Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Germany was nicknamed the "Diplomatenrennbahn" (Diplomatic Raceway), back when Bonn was the capital of West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, because of the numerous diplomats that used to speed through the highway under diplomatic immunity. Certain cities, e.g., The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, have taken to impounding such cars rather than fining their owners. Diplomats cannot demand the release of impounded cars based on their status.

This also includes parking violations. In New York City, the home of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Headquarters (and hence thousands of diplomats), the city regularly protests to the Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 about non-payment of parking tickets because of diplomatic status. Diplomatic missions have their own regulations but many require their staff to pay any fines due for parking violations. A 2006 study by two economists found that there was a significant correlation between home-country corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 (as measured by Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

) and unpaid parking fines; nonetheless, approximately 30 countries (or 20%) had fewer than one unpaid fine per diplomat over a five-year period, and 20 had none at all. Six countries had in excess of 100 violations per diplomat: Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

.

In cities that impose a congestion charge
Congestion pricing
Congestion pricing or congestion charges is a system of surcharging users of a transport network in periods of peak demand to reduce traffic congestion. Examples include some toll-like road pricing fees, and higher peak charges for utilities, public transport and slots in canals and airports...

, the decision of some diplomatic missions not to furnish payment has proved controversial. In London, embassies have amassed approximately £28 million in unpaid charges as of 2009, with the American embassy comprising approximately £3 million and the Russian, German and Japanese missions each have around £2 million of outstanding fines.

Diplomatic incidents

  • In 1979, in Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

    , the Burmese Ambassador shot his wife as she got out of the car after seeing a player in a night-club band of whom she was enamoured. The next morning, his neighbours were surprised to see the Ambassador building a pyre
    Pyre
    A pyre , also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite...

     on the back lawn. When the police were called, the Ambassador opened the metal front gates just enough to say that there was no trouble and to remind them that his house was Burmese territory. Then he went back to work. The houses around his long back garden were now alive with fascinated spectators as he emerged with the body of his wife, placed it on the pyre and set it alight. He was well connected at home; but, after an awkward interval, he was recalled.
  • In 1984, Libyan dissidents protested outside the Libyan embassy in London
    London
    London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

    . British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was killed by gunshots originating from the embassy. To date, the identity of the shooter has not been confirmed and the Libyan authorities made no effort to identify the culprit nor reveal whether the culprit was ever punished.
  • In 1987, in New York City, 9-year-old Terrence Karamba was placed by the Human Resources Administration in a foster home after his elementary school teachers noticed suspicious scars and injuries. He and his 7-year-old sister, who was also placed in City custody but later released to the family, told officials the wounds had been inflicted by their father, Floyd Karamba, an Administrative Attache at the Zimbabwean Mission to the U.N. No charges were filed, as Mr. Karamba had diplomatic immunity.
  • In January 1997, in the U.S., the Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Georgia
    Georgia (country)
    Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

    , Gueorgui Makharadze
    Gueorgui Makharadze
    Gueorgui Makharadze was the deputy ambassador of the Republic of Georgia. On January 3, 1997, while driving in Washington, D.C. around midnight, Makharadze caused an accident that injured four people and killed sixteen-year-old Jovianne Waltrick. He was found to have a blood alcohol content of...

    , caused an accident that injured four people and killed a 16-year-old girl. He was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.15% but was released from custody because he was a diplomat. The Georgian government waived his immunity upon request from the U.S., and Makharadze was tried and convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 7-to-21 years in prison. After serving three years of his sentence, he was returned to his home country, where he spent two more years in jail before being paroled.
  • On October 27, 1998, in Vladivostok
    Vladivostok
    The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

    , Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    , Douglas Kent, the American Consul General, was involved in a car accident that left a young man, Alexander Kashin, disabled. Kent was not prosecuted in a U.S. court. Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
    Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
    The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an international treaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent countries...

     of 1963, diplomatic immunity does not apply to civil actions relating to vehicular accidents. However, on 10 August 2006, a U.S. Court of Appeals
    United States courts of appeals
    The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

     ruled that, since he was using his own vehicle for consular purposes, Kent may not be sued civilly.
  • In January 2001, in Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    , Andrei Knyazev, a Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    n diplomat drove his car into two pedestrians on a quiet residential street, killing one and seriously injuring the other. Knyazev had previously been stopped by Ottawa
    Ottawa
    Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

     police on two separate occasions on suspicion of impaired driving. Russia refused the Canadian government's request to waive his immunity. Knyazev was subsequently prosecuted in Russia for involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison. His appeal of the sentence was denied, and he served time in a penal colony
    Penal colony
    A penal colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general populace by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory...

    .
  • On December 3, 2004, in Bucharest, Romania, Christopher Van Goethem, an American Marine serving his embassy, disregarded a traffic signal to stop, collided with a taxi, and killed the popular Romanian musician Teo Peter
    Teo Peter
    Teofil Peter was a Romanian rock musician and bass player for Compact.Peter was born in Cluj-Napoca, in Transylvania, in 1954. He was considered by some to be the Bruce Springsteen of Romania. Compact was formed in Cluj-Napoca in 1977...

    . Van Goethem's blood alcohol content was estimated at 0.09% from a breathalyser test, but he refused to give a blood sample for further testing and left for Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     before charges could be filed in Romania. The Romanian government requested the American government to lift his immunity, which it has refused to do. In a court-martial
    Court-martial
    A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

    , he was acquitted of manslaughter
    Manslaughter
    Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

     and adultery
    Adultery
    Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

     (which is still a court martial offence) but was convicted of obstruction of justice
    Obstruction of justice
    The crime of obstruction of justice, in United States jurisdictions, refers to the crime of interfering with the work of police, investigators, regulatory agencies, prosecutors, or other officials...

     and making false statements.
  • On November 13, 2006, in New York City, Fred Matwanga, Kenyan diplomat to the U.N., was taken into police custody by officers responding to reports that he had assaulted his son; but he was released after police discovered he had a United States Department of State-issued credential identifying him as a diplomat.
  • On April 24, 2008, in New Orleans, Mexican press attaché Rafael Quintero Curiel was seen stealing BlackBerry
    BlackBerry
    BlackBerry is a line of mobile email and smartphone devices developed and designed by Canadian company Research In Motion since 1999.BlackBerry devices are smartphones, designed to function as personal digital assistants, portable media players, internet browsers, gaming devices, and much more...

     PDA
    Personal digital assistant
    A personal digital assistant , also known as a palmtop computer, or personal data assistant, is a mobile device that functions as a personal information manager. Current PDAs often have the ability to connect to the Internet...

     units from a White House
    White House
    The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

     press meeting room. Quintero made it all the way to the airport before members of the United States Secret Service
    United States Secret Service
    The United States Secret Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency that is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The sworn members are divided among the Special Agents and the Uniformed Division. Until March 1, 2003, the Service was part of the United States...

     caught up with him. He initially denied taking the devices, but after agents showed him the security DVD, Quintero said it was purely accidental, gave them back, claimed diplomatic immunity and left New Orleans with the Mexican delegation; but he was eventually fired for the incident.
  • In December 2009, in Singapore, the Romania
    Romania
    Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

    n chargé d'affaires
    Chargé d'affaires
    In diplomacy, chargé d’affaires , often shortened to simply chargé, is the title of two classes of diplomatic agents who head a diplomatic mission, either on a temporary basis or when no more senior diplomat has been accredited.-Chargés d’affaires:Chargés d’affaires , who were...

    , Silviu Ionescu, was allegedly behind a drunk-driving hit-and-run accident
    2009 Singapore Romanian diplomat incident
    The Singapore Romanian diplomat incident occurred on 15 December 2009, when three pedestrians were struck in a hit-and-run in the Singapore suburb of Bukit Panjang. The vehicle, a black Audi A6 bearing diplomatic license plates, was later identified as being driven by Dr Silviu Ionescu, at the time...

     that killed a 30-year-old man and seriously injured two others. He left Singapore for Romania three days after the accident. The Romanian foreign ministry suspended Ionescu from his post. A coroner's inquiry in Singapore, which included testimony by the Romanian embassy driver, concluded that Ionescu was solely responsible for the accident. An Interpol Red Notice
    Interpol notice
    An Interpol notice or international notice is issued by Interpol to share information between its members. There are seven types, six of which are known by their colour codes: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Orange....

     was subsequently issued for his arrest and possible extradition http://www.interpol.int/public/data/wanted/notices/data/2010/56/2010_15456.asp notwithstanding the fact that Romania had not waived his diplomatic immunity and had commenced criminal proceedings against him in Romania. The Singapore government argued that by reason of Article 39(2) of the Vienna Convention, Ionescu was no longer protected by diplomatic immunity.
  • In 2009, in Tanzania
    Tanzania
    The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

    , a Canadian Junior Envoy
    Envoy (title)
    In diplomacy, an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary is, under the terms of the Congress of Vienna of 1815, a diplomat of the second class, ranking between an Ambassador and a Minister Resident....

     was arrested after it was reported that he spat at a traffic police officer on duty in the middle of a traffic jam in the Banana district on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam
    Dar es Salaam
    Dar es Salaam , formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: ...

    . Canada's High Commissioner
    High Commissioner
    High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

    , Robert Orr
    Robert Orr
    Robert Orr may refer to:* Bobby Orr , Canadian hockey player* Bobby Orr , jazz drummer* Robert Orr , American businessman in Japan, President of Boeing Japan, Vice President of Motorola...

    , was summoned by the Tanzanian Foreign Ministry
    Foreign minister
    A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

     over the incident, and the junior envoy was later recalled.
  • On January 27, 2011, in Lahore
    Lahore
    Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

    , Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

    , an American embassy employee, Raymond Allen Davis
    Raymond Allen Davis incident
    Raymond Allen Davis is a former United States Army soldier, private security firm employee, and contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency . On January 27, 2011, Davis killed two reportedly armed men in Lahore, Pakistan. Although the U.S. government contended that he was protected by...

    , shot and killed two Pakistani civilians. According to Davis, they were about to rob him and he acted in self-defense. When detained by police, Davis claimed to be a consultant at the U.S. consulate in Lahore. He was formally arrested and remanded into custody. Further investigations revealed that he was working with the CIA as a contractor in Pakistan. U.S. State Department declared him a diplomat and repeatedly requested immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

    , to which Pakistan is a signatory. Police officials identified the dead men as Faheem Shamshad, 26, and Faizan Haider, 22. A third person, Muhammad Abad ur Rehman, was struck and killed by a U.S. consulate car responding to the shooting. In their investigation, police retrieved photographs, from Davis’ camera, of some sensitive areas and Pakistani defense installations; and it is possible that he may be charged with Espionage as well. The wife of one of the slain men subsequently committed suicide, reportedly out of fear that Davis will not be prosecuted in the Pakistani judicial system.
  • In the late evening of April 10, 2011, in Islamabad
    Islamabad
    Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

    , Pakistan, Patrick Kibuta, an electrical engineer in the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, left a party and drove a motor vehicle while impaired under the influence of alcohol and caused a serious collision with another vehicle. According to the police report, Mr. Kibuta, who was driving in the opposing lane, collided with a vehicle driven by a Canadian citizen residing in Islamabad. The victim suffered multiple fractures and required urgent surgery for her injuries. The accident occurred in the F6/1 section of Islamabad, and the Kohsar police impounded Mr. Kibuta's U.N. vehicle on the scene. A lab draw at a nearby hospital confirmed that he had an elevated blood alcohol level. Currently, charges for reckless and drunken driving have been filed against Mr. Kibuta; and an official investigation is pending to determine what, if any, legal recourse may be taken against Mr. Kibuta, who enjoys diplomatic immunity.
  • On September 16, 2011, South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    n International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
    Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
    Maite Emily Nkoana-Mashabane is a South African politician. She has been South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation since May 2009, taking over from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She is also a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress...

     was on a state visit to Oslo, Norway
    Norway
    Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

    , when she refused to pass her handbag through an x-ray scanner. As a result she missed her scheduled commercial flight to her next diplomatic engagement in Bulgaria
    Bulgaria
    Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

    . A private charter executive jet was then hired to transport her at a cost of R
    South African rand
    The rand is the currency of South Africa. It takes its name from the Witwatersrand , the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa's gold deposits were found. The rand has the symbol "R" and is subdivided into 100 cents, symbol "c"...

    235 343, according to her department. In its response the department said that the Vienna Convention exempted diplomats from luggage searches at airports, and that the minister - as the country's top diplomat - was right to stand her ground.

Employer abuse

Diplomatic immunity from local employment and labor law when employing staff from the host country has precipitated abuse. The local staff are employed where local knowledge is needed (such as an administrative assistant, press/PR officer), or as menial staff like a cleaner, maid or mechanic. When the employer is a diplomat, the employees are in a legal limbo where the laws of neither the host country nor the diplomat's country are enforceable. There is an inherent conflict of interest, as the diplomat is the chief representative of their country and its laws, and is not forced to obey local law, so that an abusive diplomat employer can act with virtual impunity. Diplomats have ignored local laws concerning minimum wage
Minimum wage
A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in a great many jurisdictions, there are differences of opinion about...

s, maximum working hours, vacation and holidays. The worst abusers have imprisoned the employees in their homes, deprived them of their earned wages, passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

s, and communication with the outside world, abused them physically and emotionally, deprived them of food and invaded their privacy. In the case of corrupt countries and abusive diplomats, it has been virtually impossible to enforce payment of wages or any standards whatsoever. South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, for example, was criticised for claiming immunity from labor laws relating to a Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 domestic worker
Domestic worker
A domestic worker is a man, woman or child who works within the employer's household. Domestic workers perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to cleaning and household maintenance, known as housekeeping...

 at their ambassador’s residence in Ireland.

The American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 filed an amicus brief in Swarna v. Al-Awadi to argue that human trafficking
Human trafficking
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery...

 is a commercial activity engaged in for personal profit
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

, which falls outside the scope of a diplomat’s official functions, and therefore diplomatic immunity does not apply.

Financial

Historically, the problem of large debts run up by diplomats has also caused many problems. Some financial institutions do not extend credit to diplomats because they have no legal means of ensuring the money is repaid.
Local citizens and businesses are often at a disadvantage when filing civil claims against a diplomat, especially in cases of unpaid rent, alimony, and child support.

Rents

The bulk of diplomatic debt lies in the rental of office space and living quarters. Individual debts can range from a few thousand dollars to $1 million in back rent. A group of diplomats and the office space in which they work are referred to as a diplomatic mission
Diplomatic mission
A diplomatic mission is a group of people from one state or an international inter-governmental organisation present in another state to represent the sending state/organisation in the receiving state...

. Creditors cannot sue missions individually to collect money they owe. Landlords and creditors have found that the only thing they can do is contact a city agency to see if they can try to get some money back. They cannot enter the offices or apartments of diplomats to evict them because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act says that "the property in the United States of a foreign state shall be immune from attachment, arrest and execution" (28 U.S.C.A. § 1609). This has led creditors who are owed money by diplomats to become more cautious about their renters and to change their rental or payment policies.

Alimony and child support

The issue of abusing diplomatic immunity in family relations, especially alimony and child support, has become so widespread that it prompted discussion at the 1995 U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing. Historically, the United Nations has not become involved with family disputes and has refused to garnish the wages of diplomats who owe money for child support, citing Sovereign Immunity. However, in September 1995, the incumbent head of Legal Affairs for the United Nations acknowledged there was a moral and legal obligation to take at least a partial responsibility in family disputes. Deadbeat "diplodads" were increasing in numbers in the United Nations: several men who had left their wives and children were still claiming U.N. dependency, travel, and education allowances for their families even though they are no longer supporting those families.

Taxes and fees

Diplomats are not necessarily exempt from paying government-imposed fees when there are "charges levied for specific services rendered." In certain cases, such as central London
Central London
Central London is the innermost part of London, England. There is no official or commonly accepted definition of its area, but its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally,...

's congestion charge, the nature of the fee may lead to disputes; but there is an obligation for the receiving State not to "discriminate as between states"; in other words, any such fees should be payable by all accredited diplomats equally. This may allow the diplomatic corps
Diplomatic corps
The diplomatic corps or corps diplomatique is the collective body of foreign diplomats accredited to a particular country or body.The diplomatic corps may, in certain contexts, refer to the collection of accredited heads of mission who represent their countries in another state or country...

 to negotiate as a group with the authorities of the receiving country. In August 2009, it was reported that the Government of the UK believed the United States owed £3,500,000 in unpaid congestion charge fees. It was also reported in 2006 that at least one embassy has agreed to pay the disputed charges.

Diplomats are exempt from import duty and tariffs for items for their personal use. In some countries, this has led to charges that diplomatic agents are profiting personally from resale of "tax free" goods. The receiving state may choose to impose restrictions on what may reasonably constitute personal use (for example, only a certain quantity of cigarette
Cigarette
A cigarette is a small roll of finely cut tobacco leaves wrapped in a cylinder of thin paper for smoking. The cigarette is ignited at one end and allowed to smoulder; its smoke is inhaled from the other end, which is held in or to the mouth and in some cases a cigarette holder may be used as well...

s per day). When enacted, such restrictions are generally quite generous so as to avoid tit-for-tat
Tit for tat
Tit for tat is an English saying meaning "equivalent retaliation". It is also a highly effective strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoner's dilemma. It was first introduced by Anatol Rapoport in Robert Axelrod's two tournaments, held around 1980. An agent using this strategy will initially...

 responses.

Other

U.S. Department of State prohibits foreign service officers from being injected with a needle by a foreign official. Diplomats refuse test for blood alcohol content
Blood alcohol content
Blood alcohol content , also called blood alcohol concentration, blood ethanol concentration, or blood alcohol level is most commonly used as a metric of alcohol intoxication for legal or medical purposes....

 but can submit to breathalyzer
Breathalyzer
A breathalyzer or breathalyser is a device for estimating blood alcohol content from a breath sample...

 test.

Popular culture

  • What's Happening!!
    What's Happening!!
    What's Happening!! is an American television sitcom that aired on ABC from August 5, 1976 to April 28, 1979. The show premiered as a summer series. With good ratings and reviews, and after the failure of several other shows on the network, What's Happening!! returned in November 1976 as a weekly...

    episode of 25 February 1978: Rerun borrows a car so the guys can get to a Lakers game but after the game Rerun becomes the victim of a hit and run driver. Dee surprises everyone by coming forward with news that she was a witness and saw the driver, who turns out to be the son of a foreign diplomat.
  • Lethal Weapon 2
    Lethal Weapon 2
    Lethal Weapon 2 is a 1989 action comedy film directed by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Patsy Kensit, Joe Pesci, Derrick O'Connor and Joss Ackland...

    (1989): two LAPD officers protect a federal witness while taking on a gang of South African drug dealers hiding behind diplomatic immunity.
  • In the movie Diplomatic Immunity (1991), a Marine training sergeant tracks down a foreign crime lord, protected by diplomatic immunity, who is responsible for his daughter's death.
  • "Diplomatic Immunity" is the title of an episode of Highlander (season 6) (1997).
  • Diplomatic Immunity
    Diplomatic Immunity (album)
    Diplomatic Immunity is the debut album by The Diplomats, released on March 25, 2003. After the release of group leader Cam'ron's third album, Come Home With Me, the quartet teamed up to release their first collaborative effort...

    (2003) is the debut album by The Diplomats
    The Diplomats
    The Diplomats, also popularly known as Dipset, are a Harlem-based hip hop group founded by Cam'ron and Jim Jones in 1997. The original members of the group were Cam'ron, Freekey Zekey, and Jim Jones ; who all grew up together in Harlem...

    .
  • Diplomatic Immunity
    Diplomatic Immunity (TV series)
    Diplomatic Immunity was a weekly political analysis and debate television show on TVOntario, which ran until 2006. Issues discussed reflected contemporary concerns; recently, these included terrorism, Middle East affairs, and US politics, though potentially any issue of international significance...

    was a weekly political analysis and debate television show on TVOntario
    TVOntario
    TVOntario, often referred to only as TVO , is a publicly funded, educational English-language television station and media organization in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is operated by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, a Crown corporation owned by the Government of Ontario...

    .
  • Diplomatic Immunity (2009) is a television comedy series that follows the misadventures at the consulate of the Kingdom of Fe'ausi and a fallen New Zealand Foreign Affairs high-flier who has been sent in to straighten out the consulate staff.
  • Blue Bloods
    Blue Bloods (TV series)
    Blue Bloods is an American police procedural/drama series on CBS, filmed on location in New York City. The show premiered on September 24, 2010, with episodes airing on Fridays at 10:00 pm Eastern and Pacific/9:00 PM Central and Mountain....

    episode "Privilege", 8 October 2010: a rape case's primary suspect is protected by diplomatic immunity.
  • Primetime: What Would You Do? 18 March 2011: The daughter of an Ambassador threatens to call the police to arrest the purporting actors for harassing her while she defends the actress playing the role of the victim.
  • Warren Zevon
    Warren Zevon
    Warren William Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician noted for including his sometimes sardonic opinions of life in his musical lyrics, composing songs that were sometimes humorous and often had political or historical themes.Zevon's work has often been praised by well-known...

    's song "The Envoy" contains the lines: "Things got hot in El Salvador/ CIA got caught and couldn't do no more/ He's got diplomatic immunity/ He's got a lethal weapon that nobody sees."
  • Family Guy
    Family Guy
    Family Guy is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a dysfunctional family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog Brian...

    : E. Peterbus Unum (Season 2 Ep. 18) : After learning that his property is not officially part of the United States, Peter forms his own country.
  • 24
    24
    Year 24 was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Cethegus and Varro...

    : (TV series) Diplomatic immunity is used several times throughout the 8 seasons to retrieve valuable information about terrorist threats from terrorists or associates who were going to be convicted of treason.
  • Further examples are too numerous to list.

Diplomatic immunity in the United States

The following chart outlines the immunities afforded to foreign diplomatic personnel residing in the United States.
In general, these rules follow the Vienna Convention and apply in other countries as well.
Category May be arrested or detained Residence may be entered subject to ordinary procedures May be issued traffic ticket May be subpoenaed as witness May be prosecuted Official family member
Diplomatic Diplomatic agent No No Yes No No Same as sponsor
Member of administrative and technical staff No No Yes No No Same as sponsor
Service staff Yes Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes No
Consular Career Consular Officers Yes, if for a felony and pursuant to a warrant. Yes Yes No, for official acts. Testimony may not be compelled in any case. No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes No
Honorary consular officers Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes No
Consular employees Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes No
International organization Diplomatic-level staff of missions to international organizations No No Yes No No Same as sponsor
International Organization Staff Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes No
Support staff of missions to international organizations Yes Yes Yes No, for official acts. Yes, in all other cases No, for official acts. Otherwise, yes No

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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