Consular Immunity

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Further, while Saudi Arabia has not claimed diplomatic immunity for the 18 suspects, including three consular staff who fled Istanbul following the killing, such immunity would not be applicable in any event because, unlike diplomatic agents like ambassadors, consular agents are not entitled to absolute immunity under the Vienna conventions and may be prosecuted by the host country if suspected of committing a crime; this is because consular immunity only extends to consular functions.
Jamal Khashoggi was a critic of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and evidence is piling up that he was executed on the territory of another state on premises protected by consular immunity by agents of the kingdom flown in for the purpose on diplomatic passports and baggage covered by diplomatic immunity.
CGG: It has diplomatic and consular immunity. It's not as if it is Mexican territory.
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.
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Guarantee diplomatic and consular immunity from criminal prosecution; (47)
Department of State, Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities, (Revised May 1998), page 1 of a 26-page booklet, (hereafter Diplomatic and Consular Immunity).
The functional reason for state immunity ratione personae echoes the justification for diplomatic and consular immunity: "[T]he purpose of such privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions as representing States." (37) This rationale provides, however, an uncertain limit on the concept's scope.