UNITED NATIONS, Aug 29 (IPS) – When UN diplomats are charged with civil or felony offenses – from site visitors violations to sexual abuse — they keep away from prosecution and civil regulation fits underneath cowl of diplomatic immunity.
It’s a privilege exercised by diplomats worldwide—together with US diplomats in abroad postings.
Within the Nineteen Seventies and 80s, there have been diplomats from a number of financially-ailing member states, who have been cut-off from their cash-starved house nations, and unable to pay their rents and telephone and electrical energy payments—plus their UN membership dues.
The landlords who had bitter experiences combating tenants over unpaid rents and damages to their residences prevented diplomats as tenants as a result of they have been protected by diplomatic immunity and couldn’t be dragged into Small Claims Court docket.
So, no less than in a single New York Metropolis condominium constructing, the owner had an indication which learn: “Canines and Diplomats Not Welcome.”
However final week it was a extra critical offense—by an envoy from South Sudan, accredited to the UN, who was accused of rape, an allegation made by a neighbor in a Manhattan condominium constructing.
However he claimed diplomatic immunity to keep away from prosecution by New York Metropolis police.
The immunity may be waived solely by the nation which accredited the diplomat to the UN—or within the various, the US might declare the diplomat persona non grata (PNG).
In worldwide diplomacy, PNG is a standing utilized by a number nation to overseas diplomats to take away their safety of diplomatic immunity from arrest and prosecution.
However South Sudan went one higher: it recalled its ambassador.
A letter, dated August 25, from South Sudan’s Ministry of Overseas Affairs and Worldwide Cooperation, a replica of which was obtained by IPS, says “It’s with remorse that our diplomat was concerned in an alleged rape incident with certainly one of New York Metropolis residents”.
“The management of the Ministry of Overseas Affairs and Worldwide Cooperation took the choice to right away recall the diplomat in query, pending a full investigation from a specialised committee. The. The diplomat in query is now again in South Sudan and has been suspended from his duties, awaiting the end result of this investigation.”
The letter additionally says the Ministry of Overseas Affairs “want to take this chance to reiterate the federal government of South Sudan’s, and certainly the Ministry of Overseas Affairs’ place that sexual misconduct in any form or type is heinous finish wholly unacceptable.”
“As a authorities, we’ve labored tirelessly since our inception to make sure that the rights of girls and women are protected. The Ministry of Public Service has labored with civil servants throughout the nation to hold out sensitivity trainings”.
Past ratifying regional and worldwide devices for the safety of girls and women, the letter says, “we’ve additionally labored to obtain path from our gender and youth cluster to virtually implement these devices throughout the nation. as a result of it’s our perception that dwelling a life devoid of gender-based violence and certainly the specter of it, is a proper for all.”
“The mandate of our overseas missions is two-fold. To each shield the pursuits of South Sudanese residents overseas and to advertise robust bilateral relations with our host nations. It’s regretful that on this alleged occasion, the latter has been jeopardized. We’re dedicated to working carefully with the related US authorities to take applicable motion, following the end result of all investigations,“ says the letter, in an try at injury management.
“The Ministry of Overseas Affairs, and certainly the prolonged authorities of South Sudan stands with victims of pf sexual assault in all places and is dedicated to persevering with to safeguard all these susceptible to sexual violence”, the letter provides.
Antonia Kirkland, World Lead, Authorized Equality and Entry to Justice at Equality Now, instructed IPS: “We welcome South Sudan’s acknowledgment of the seriousness of those rape allegations towards one if its UN diplomats”.
The standing of a person — no matter whether or not they’re a diplomat, a head of state, royalty, or a UN worker — shouldn’t be an excuse for impunity or misused to defend somebody from going through justice if they’ve dedicated an act of sexual violence or different critical crime, she identified.
“In instances involving sexual violence, diplomatic immunity shouldn’t be invoked and allegations have to be successfully investigated and prosecuted, and convicted perpetrators punished. Additionally it is important that victims are totally supported and obtain the justice they deserve and to which they’re entitled”.
“Per its said inside dedication to survivors of felony sexual harassment by its personal staff and intention to waive immunity in such instances, we hope the UN is encouraging South Sudan to cooperate carefully with the US and authorities in New York to make sure the case is totally investigated,” mentioned Kirkland.
If the findings point out that the rape allegations are credible, South Sudan ought to uphold the rule of regulation and make sure the case goes to courtroom, and if he’s discovered responsible, guarantee he’s punished accordingly, she declared.
Requested in regards to the accusations, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric instructed reporters August 23: “We’re conscious of this. We’ve seen the press stories. I feel this is a matter having to do, as you mentioned, — I feel there had been some early misreporting on it — not with anybody who’s working for the United Nations however a member of the diplomatic corps.”
“I feel any alleged rape or sexual assault must be totally investigated. This can be a specific challenge between the Member State and the US Authorities, however we’ll regulate it’, he added.
IPS UN Bureau Report
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