Consular Immunity

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Immunity, Consular


the privileges and immunities of a consular institution and its employees for the purpose of the normal and unhindered execution of consular functions. Questions of consular immunity are regulated by the domestic legislation of each state and by international conventions and customs. The norms relating to consular immunity are codified in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. In the USSR, questions of consular immunity are regulated by the Statute on Diplomatic and Consular Delegations of Foreign States on the Territory of the USSR of May 23, 1966, and by the consular conventions that the USSR has concluded with other countries.

In contrast to diplomatic immunity, certain consular immunities are granted by Soviet legislation only on the basis of reciprocity. For example, under Article 21 of the statute, the premises of the consulate and the residence of the head of the consulate enjoy inviolability: access to these premises may be authorized by the head of the consulate, and similarly, compulsory operations may be carried out upon his request or the request of the ambassador of that state. Inviolability of premises does not, however, give the right to use the premises for purposes incompatible with the functions of the consulate. Archives and documents are inviolable. Consulates have the right to display the flag and install the emblem of the state they represent. Consular immunity also includes the right to communicate with the consulate’s own government and with consular and diplomatic delegations of its own country, using ordinary means of communication, cipher telegrams, and the diplomatic post.

Consular representatives enjoy personal immunity and may be arrested or detained only in the event of prosecution for the perpetration of a grave crime or to execute a lawful court sentence. They have immunity from criminal, adminstrative, and civil jurisdiction over their official activity (as a rule, this clause is not extended to suits involving compensation for damage caused by a highway or transportation accident). Employees of a consulate cannot refuse to give eyewitness testimony, except testimony on questions involved with their official duties. Measures of compulsion may not be applied to them, should they refuse to give testimony. They are granted fiscal immunity (freedom from taxes and duties) on a reciprocal basis.

In some respects, the consular conventions that the USSR has signed with other states put consular immunities on the same footing as the immunities enjoyed by diplomatic representatives (for example, the consular conventions with Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, and Japan).


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4) Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Khobragade was entitled to consular immunity, but only for acts performed in the exercise of her official consular functions.
7) The transfer of Khobragade's position was completed on the evening of January 8, 2014, and Khobragade's immunity status was upgraded from consular immunity to diplomatic immunity.
18) Consular immunity, on the other hand, purposefully does not protect consular officers from prosecution for criminal acts that are not necessary to the performance of consular functions.
Khobragade's case illustrates the differing impacts that consular immunity and diplomatic immunity have on criminal prosecutions in the United States.
Department of State has taken the position that "it is only the trier of facts which is in a position to make the determination as to the 'official' nature of the activity," thereby preserving the role of the courts as impartial determiners of consular immunity.
As Khobragade was posted at the Indian consulate in New York and had limited consular immunity at the time of her arrest, the Indian government moved her to India's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in order to provide her with full diplomatic immunity.
The judge said Khobragade had served as consular officer in the United States from October 26, 2012 to January 8, 2014, a position that cloaked her with consular immunity as per the Vienna Convention.
The Khobragade case is distinguishable from the cases discussed in this Note since the post of deputy consul general only entitled Khobragade to consular immunity, which is more limited than diplomatic immunity.
4) For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see Diplomatic and Consular Immunity.
Figure C Immunity Issues: Telephone Numbers State Department representatives are available 24-hours daily to assist in emergency situations and when immediate confirmation of a person's diplomatic or consular immunity status is required.
174) While diplomatic and consular immunity are included among the latter, state immunity is not.
A third doctrine is diplomatic and consular immunity, which is based upon the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (66) and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, (67) respectively, as well as a number of bilateral treaties and agreements and a body of customary international law.