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UK News What is diplomatic immunity? Why diplomats are exempt from some laws, after Anne Sacoolas named over hit-and-run death

16:20  07 october  2019
16:20  07 october  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

Police chiefs urge US embassy to waive immunity after fatal crash

  Police chiefs urge US embassy to waive immunity after fatal crash The woman wanted for questioning over the crash has left the UK, despite telling police she did not plan to do so.Nick Adderley, chief constable for Northamptonshire Police, said US authorities had been appealed to in “the strongest terms” to apply a waiver and “allow the justice process to take place” in relation to the woman, who has been named in media reports as 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas.

  What is diplomatic immunity? Why diplomats are exempt from some laws, after Anne Sacoolas named over hit-and-run death © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Government ministers are calling for an American woman to return to the UK to answer questions after she claimed diplomatic immunity and left the country.

The woman - believed to be the wife of a diplomat and named in media reports as Anne Sacoolas - is wanted for questioning in connection with the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn.

Dunn was killed in a head on collision with a woman who had just driven out of RAF Croughton in late August.

Police believe the woman was on the wrong side of the road as she emerged from the base, and despite telling police she did not plan to invoke diplomatic immunity, she left the country.

PM urges US to waive immunity for diplomat’s wife wanted over teen’s death crash

  PM urges US to waive immunity for diplomat’s wife wanted over teen’s death crash Mr Johnson said he would raise Harry Dunn’s case with the White House if necessary.Vowing to raise the case of 19-year-old Harry Dunn with the White House if necessary, Mr Johnson said: “I do not think it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose.

What is diplomatic immunity?

Diplomatic immunity is designed to allow diplomats safety and immunity from lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws.

Modern diplomatic immunity was brought in by the the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in 1961, although its concept has existed for thousands of years.

Its use is to allow for the up-keeping of relations between governments, particularly during periods of conflict, and two-way immunity allows diplomats to effectively carry out their duties with the host state assured that their diplomats will receive the same treatment.

Only a small minority of countries don't adhere to diplomatic immunity.

Can it be waived?

It is possible for the home country of a diplomat to waive his or her immunity.

Parents of teen killed in crash don't want US diplomat's wife punished

  Parents of teen killed in crash don't want US diplomat's wife punished The parents of a British teenager killed in a car crash which is thought to have involved an American diplomat's wife said they do not want her to be punished after she left the country. Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn told Sky News they want Anne Sacoolas to come back to the UK to face them after their son, Harry Dunn, 19, died in hospital following a head-on collision with a car while riding his motorbike.

This can happen in cases where the individual in question has committed a serious crime.

This crime would be one unconnected to their duties, so if for example a diplomat was accused of spying in another country, their home country would likely uphold the immunity, as it is needed for them to carry out their responsibilities.

What is more likely to happen, is that the individual in question may be prosecuted for their crime by their home country, but if immunity is waived by a government it must be in the public interest to prosecute them.

A notable example of this happened in 2002, when a Colombian diplomat in London was prosecuted for manslaughter once diplomatic immunity was waived by the Colombian government.

Nick Adderley, chief constable for Northamptonshire Police, said US authorities had been appealed to in "the strongest terms" to waive the woman's immunity.

The US embassy has confirmed the incident involved a vehicle driven by the spouse of a US diplomat assigned to UK who had since departed the country, but said that diplomatic immunity was "rarely waived".

Why is the case controversial?

The case of Anne Sacoolas is unusual because diplomatic immunity usually only covers diplomats and their dependants based in London.

But a special deal is reported to be in place between the UK and the US which gives diplomats and their families based at RAF Croughton immunity.

The arrangement is thought to have been in place as early as 1994 between the UK and US for the Northamptonshire base.

Harry Dunn death: Jeremy Hunt says UK is not a 'tinpot dictatorship' – and Anne Sacoolas should face justice .
He said allowing the diplomat's wife to flee justice was 'disrespectful' to the Dunn family and to the UK-US relationshipThe former foreign secretary said the UK was "not some tinpot dictatorship" and the wife of the US diplomatic should have to "face the legal consequences" of her involvement in the incident.

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