Arguments exist as to why diplomats need diplomatic immunity. Well, diplomatic immunity exists so that nations can actually engage in diplomacy. Without such immunity, it would be far too easy for nations to detain ambassadors and other members of diplomatic mission, creating hostage situation and other such complications.
Diplomats have always enjoyed a certain degree of protection either from normative standards or from codified international laws. These rules and regulations exist to promote and preserve diplomacy. However, diplomats can and are often are recalled and tried if they commit serious crimes. However cannot be prosecuted in their host country unless immunity is lifted.
DO DIPLOMATS ABUSE THEIR DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY?
When most diplomats get diplomatic passports, they start committing crime as they tend to belief that they cannot face prosecution at all. However, in most cases, diplomats can face prosecution after committing some crimes or even their diplomatic immunity get waved. In some states also, diplomats may lose their diplomatic appointments; that is they can be revoked. Some of the crimes that have been committed and the diplomats made away with in several states since time immemorial in most states are as follows:
- Drug smuggling
Diplomats and consuls involved in drug smuggling have benefited from diplomatic immunity. For example, a Venezuelan general wanted in the United States on drugs charges was arrested in Aruba only to be released after the Venezuelan government protested his diplomatic immunity and threatened sanctions if Aruba did not release him
- Cigarette smuggling
In December 2014, Gambian diplomats were found guilty by Southwark Crown Court of London for selling tax-free tobacco from the Gambian embassy in the United Kingdom. The Crown Prosecution Service told the court that much of this was sold from the embassy without paying VAT and excise duty.
- Employer abuse and slavery
Diplomatic immunity from local employment and labor law has precipitated incidents in which diplomatic staff have been accused of abusing local workers, who are often hired for positions requiring local knowledge (such as an administrative assistant, press/PR officer) or for general labor. In such situations, the employees are in a legal limbo where the laws of neither the host country nor the diplomat’s country are enforceable. Diplomats have ignored local laws concerning minimum wages, maximum working hours, vacation and holidays, and in some cases have imprisoned employees in their homes, deprived them of their earned wages, passports, food, and communication with the outside world, abused them physically and emotionally, and invaded their privacy
Once diplomats get their diplomatic appointments, confirm that they have accepted them and finally acquire diplomatic passport they gain diplomatic immunity immediately. Some diplomats misuse this immunity by committing crimes. Sometimes, these diplomats face consequences but sadly most of them make away with it. This therefore means that diplomatic immunity is a necessary evil. It is there to make diplomacy to take place and at the same time it have given most diplomats a chance to commit very serious crimes and go away unpunished.
It should be noted that the immunity enjoyed by honorary consuls is referred to as consul immunity and it is more limited that the diplomatic immunity.