Immunity from Sate Jurisdiction
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Immunity from Sate Jurisdiction International law specifies that 'the jurisdiction of a state within its territory is complete and absolute'1. However, it is identified that certain categories of persons and bodies acting in the public interest are entitled to immunities and privileges from the exercise of the State jurisdiction. In April 1984 WPC Fletcher, a British policewoman was killed, as a result of shots being fired from the Libyan Bureau. The incident created great anger and it was asked by many as was whether the Libyan diplomats were immune from being tried in the United Kingdom courts and the abuse of such privilege granted to diplomatic persons. This also prompted the British Foreign Secretary to review of the Vienna Conventions2, which grants such immunities. As a result of this the Foreign Affairs Committee3 had compiled a report, following this initial report, the United Kingdom Government produced a White Paper4. The main objective cited in the paper was to reduce the abuse of the diplomatic immunity and the privileges that came with it. In response to the detailed recommendations made by the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Government stressed that any attempts at trying to make amendments to the Vienna Conventions was fraught with difficulty, instead the need to apply the Convention in a firm manner was more realistic5.
Moreover, the Convention failed to provide a definition of "members of the family forming part of the house hold." It was further agreed that, in situations where reappointments were in process, there is a need for some form of notification of the new appointee(s) by the sending state. The White Paper also identified that in some situations the Governments must be vigilant in trying to act before any incident or offences take place. Therefore the governments must be ready take the decision to limit the size of the mission where there is some concern as to the national security or such grave offences waiting to be committed. It is claimed by the Foreign Affairs that the behaviour at the Libyan Bureau was of a suspicious nature and the UK Government had failed to exercise their right under Article 11. It also realised that the quantity of the mission personal was at times greater to that of the UK's mission personnel. Therefore open to abuse, such as spying or even more threatening could lead to terrorist acts, all of which were seen as connected to over sized missions. An example of a state acting against suspicious size of missions, can bee seen in the case of the Soviet Embassy
The requirement of the act was that the consent of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was needed in order for the land to became the premises of diplomats or used as Consular premises. It was also implemented as a means to eradicate any problems, which may arise from the abandonment of the premises, by the members of mission. Diplomatic immunity and privileges are granted by the Convention on acceptance of the host state. However it is under the same convention that any abuse of such immunities and privileges by the diplomat (s) is dealt with in accordance with the norms of natural justice. In sum, the killing of WPC Fletcher was the catalyst in brining about to the attention of the UK government that there was a need to for reviewing the Vienna Convention, which was open to abuse by those who are given immunity and privileges by international law. Also the need to be vigilant, so that to act before any serious crimes are committed, such as keeping the size of the mission to a reasonable and required number and guarding against the misuse of diplomatic premises, to avoid the tragedy that resulted in WPC Fletcher losing her life.
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