Will the diplomat, accused of rape, be prosecuted at home? – Global issues

  • by Thalif Deen (United Nation)
  • Associated Press Service

In the 1970s and 80s, there were diplomats from several member states who were financially weak, they were short on cash back home, and were unable to pay their rent and phone bills – plus with their United Nations membership dues.

Landlords who have had the bitter experience of fighting tenants over unpaid rent and damage to their apartments have avoided diplomats as tenants because they are protected by the right to diplomatic immunity and cannot be dragged to the Small Claims Court.

So, in at least one New York City apartment building, the landlord had a sign that read: “Dogs and diplomats not welcome.”

But last week it was a more serious offense – by an envoy from South Sudan, recognized at the UN, who was accused of rape, a charge brought by a neighbor in a court of law. apartment buildings in Manhattan.

But he claims diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution by the New York City police.

Immunities can only be waived by the country that has recognized the diplomat to the United Nations — or alternatively, the United States can declare the diplomat a non-self (PNG).

In international diplomacy, PNG is a host country rule for foreign diplomats to remove protections of diplomatic immunity from arrest and prosecution.

But South Sudan went a better way: it called back its ambassador.

A letter dated August 25 from South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, a copy obtained by IPS, reads, “Unfortunately, our diplomat was involved in an alleged rape. with one of the residents of New York City. “.

“The leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has decided to immediately recall the diplomat in question, pending a full investigation by a dedicated committee. The. The diplomat in question has now returned to South Sudan and has been suspended from duty, pending the outcome of this investigation.”

The letter also said the State Department “wants to take this opportunity to reiterate the government of South Sudan, and indeed the State Department’s position, that sexual misconduct of any kind constitutes complete cruelty.” Totally unacceptable.”

“As a government, we have worked tirelessly since our inception to ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected. The Ministry of Public Affairs has been working with civil servants across the country to conduct sensitivity training courses.”

In addition to ratifying regional and international instruments for the protection of women and girls, the letter reads, “we have also worked to receive direction from our gender and youth group to implement practical implementation of these tools nationwide. because we believe that living a life free of gender-based violence, and indeed the threat it poses, is a right for all.”

“The duties of our foreign missions are twofold. To both protect the interests of South Sudanese citizens abroad, while promoting strong bilateral relations with host countries. Unfortunately, in this alleged case, the latter was threatened. We are committed to working closely with the relevant US authorities to take appropriate action, following the results of all investigations,” the letter said, in an effort to control damage. .

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and indeed the extended government of South Sudan stands with victims of sexual assault pf everywhere and is committed to continuing to protect all those at risk of sexual violence. “, the letter added.

Antonia Kirkland, Global Team Leader, Legal Equality and Access to Justice at Equality Today, told IPS: “We welcome South Sudan’s acknowledgment of the seriousness of these rape allegations for one if the diplomats of the United Nations”.

An individual’s status – whether he or she is a diplomat, head of state, royal family or UN employee – should not be an excuse to be punished or used to shield someone from confrontation. to justice if they have committed acts she indicates sexual violence or other serious crimes.

“In cases involving sexual violence, diplomatic immunity should not be invoked and allegations should be effectively investigated and prosecuted, and convicted perpetrators punished. It is also important for victims to be fully supported and receive the justice they deserve and are entitled to.”

“Consistent with our stated internal commitment to victims of sexual harassment by our own employees and our intention to waive immunity in such cases, we hope the United Nations encourages South Sudan works closely with the US and authorities in New York to ensure this happens. Kirkland said.

If the findings indicate that the rape allegations are credible, South Sudan should respect the rule of law and ensure the case goes to court, and if he is found guilty, make sure he punished accordingly, she claimed.

Asked about the allegations, United Nations Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters August 23: “We know this. We have seen the press. I think this is an issue that needs to be done, as you said, – I think there have been some early false reports about it – not with anyone working for the United Nations but as a member of the United Nations. member of the diplomatic corps. “

“I think any allegation of rape or sexual assault should be fully investigated. This is a specific issue between the Member State and the US Government, but we will keep an eye on it,’ he added.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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