diplomatic immunity

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diplomatic immunity

the immunity from local jurisdiction and exemption from taxation in the country to which they are accredited afforded to diplomats

Immunity, Diplomatic

 

the total body of rights and privileges granted to the diplomatic representatives of foreign states and their employees. The norms of international law regulating questions of diplomatic immunity were codified in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 (the USSR is a party). In the USSR, questions of diplomatic immunity are regulated by the Statute on Diplomatic and Consular Delegations of Foreign States on the Territory of the USSR of May 23, 1966.

Diplomatic immunity includes the privileges and immunities of diplomatic representatives and the personal privileges and immunities of the heads and personnel of diplomatic delegations. The diplomatic immunity of a delegation includes the inviolability of premises and archives, freedom of communications with the delegation’s own government, the right to display the flag and national emblem of the state represented on the building of the diplomatic delegation, freedom from taxes and duties, and customs privileges. Inviolability of the premises of a delegation (the building and portions of buildings used for the purposes of the delegation) means that the authorities of the state of residence have the right to enter these premises only with the consent of the head of the delegation. The state of residence is obliged to take all necessary measures to protect the premises of the delegation from all incursions and damage and to prevent all disruptions of the tranquillity of the delegation. The premises of the delegation, articles of furniture, and other property of the delegation enjoy immunity from search, requisition, seizure, and executive actions.

In contemporary international law, it is universally recognized that inviolability of diplomatic premises does not give the right to grant asylum to individuals sought by the authorities of the country of residence. An important element of diplomatic immunity is the right of free communication with the delegation’s own government.

Personal privileges and immunities include the personal immunity and inviolability of the homes of diplomats, immunity from jurisdiction, customs privileges, and freedom from taxes and obligations. A diplomatic employee may not be arrested or detained. The authorities of the state of residence must take all reasonable measures to prevent any encroachment upon the person, freedom, and dignity of a diplomat. The diplomat enjoys immunity from jurisdiction: he cannot be made answerable criminally, administratively, or civilly (with certain exceptions) in the state of residence; he is not obligated to testify in court as a witness. Diplomats enjoy fiscal immunity: they are released from the payment of taxes and duties of every kind. Customs duties are not levied on the articles of personal consumption of a diplomat and his family, and the personal baggage of a diplomat is not subject to customs inspection.

Trade delegations and their employees also enjoy diplomatic immunity.

I. K. GORODETSKAIA

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