You might have heard that once a diplomat gets a diplomatic passport, he acquires diplomatic immunity. But, what exactly is diplomatic immunity? Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuits or prosecution under the whole country’s laws, but they can still be expelled.
WHO ACQUIRES DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY?
That is a very important question. Not every who represent the country outside the country’s boundaries acquire diplomatic immunity. Diplomatic immunity is achieved when one dully accepts a diplomatic appointment and acquires a diplomatic passport too. This means that honorary consuls do have diplomatic immunity as they are not holders of diplomatic passports.
ORIGIN OF DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY
The concept of immunity began with ancient tribes. In order to exchange information, messengers were allowed to travel from to tribe without fear or harm. They were protected even when they brought bad news. Today, immunity protects the channels of diplomatic communication by exempting diplomats from local jurisdiction so that they can perform their duty with freedom, independence, and security.
HOW FAR DOES DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY GO?
The of diplomatic immunity depend on the rank. Top diplomatic officers have full immunity, as do their deputies and families. This means ambassadors can commit just any crime and still be immune to prosecution.
Lower ranking official officials have a weaker type of protection referred to as “functional immunity” these officials are covered for crimes only committed within the scope of their regular work responsibilities.
Service staff working under an honorary consul or diplomat has no immunity whatsoever. Contrary to the popular belief, any diplomat can be issued a traffic citation. They just can’t be forced to pay it.
There are limits of diplomatic immunity however. Diplomats can’t go around shooting people without consequences. The privilege of diplomatic immunity can be waved incase of such code of conduct. The republic of the host state has a right to declare such an advocate a persona non grata and to send him home for any reason. The officials of the home country can also try him at a local court.
Diplomatic immunity has been around for quite a long time under customary international law as something of golden rule. The rule of “treat other diplomats as you would like yours to be treated” has been applied in most countries and states. This customs has also held politicians from ordering the prosecution of diplomats on trumped-up charges as the way to pressure their foreign enemies.
In conclusion, though most people think that diplomatic immunity of diplomats is limitless, we have found out that it varies with ranks. Top rank officials have full immunity and it decreases down the ladder up to a point where the servants working under diplomats have no immunity completely. We have also found out that the diplomatic immunity does not only cover the diplomat but also his family members and relatives.