Diplomatic Immunity and Laws of Preferential Application

May 17th, 2010 by admin | Filed under Criminal Law, Diplomatic Relations.

Diplomatic missions and agents are accorded with respect and certain rights and privileges which ordinary sojourners in a foreign state do not.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomatic missions enjoy certain privileges and immunities. A diplomatic mission has the right to use the flag and emblem of the sending State on the premises of the mission, including the residence of the head of the mission, and on his means of transport. Another right is that the premises of the mission shall be inviolable.

The agents of the receiving state may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution. The mission is likewise exempted from all national, regional or municipal dues and taxes in respect of its premises whether owned or leased, other than as such represent payment for specific services rendered. The archives and documents of the mission shall also be inviolable at any time and wherever they may be. Accordingly, the receiving State shall permit and protect free communication on the part of the mission for all official purposes, including diplomatic couriers and messages in code or cipher.

Laws of preferential application are laws which recognize the immunities, rights and privileges of duly accredited foreign diplomatic representatives of one state to another state. Hence, most states recognize the diplomatic immunity of heads of states, ambassadors, consuls, representatives of the UN and other personalities of similar stature. According to Hyde, it is a well-established principle of international law that diplomatic representatives such as ambassadors, or public ministers and their official retinue, possess immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the country of their sojourn and cannot be sued, arrested or punished by the law of that country. Wheaton states that in the absence of treaty to the contrary, a consul is not exempt from criminal prosecution for violations of the laws of the country where he resides.


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