A Teenager’s Death Has Put Diplomatic Immunity Under a Spotlight

An international law that largely shields foreign diplomats and their family members from criminal prosecution has come under scrutiny after the wife of an American diplomat left Britain following a crash that killed a 19-year-old man.

But despite growing calls in the U.K. for U.S. officials to waive the woman’s diplomatic immunity protections, such a revocation rarely happens, the State Department says, and experts don’t think this case will be any different.

“It’s highly unlikely that the U.S. will waive immunity,” says Craig Barker, a dean and international law professor at London South Bank University. “I don’t think the special relationship to the U.K. will make an iota of a difference.”

The teen, Harry Dunn, died Aug. 27 in Northamptonshire, England, after a 42-year-old American woman allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road struck him head-on while he was riding a motorcycle, police said. Over the weekend, authorities in Britain revealed that the woman, who has been identified as Anne Sacoolas, was no longer in the country. The news was met with swift backlash, especially since police say she told them she had no plans to leave during the investigation into the crash.

“She’s broken our family,” Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said in an emotional TV interview this week.

Calls to a number listed for Sacoolas in Virginia did not go through and were met with a constant busy signal.

Under international law, foreign diplomats and family members enjoy certain protections that allow them to avoid prosecution for almost any crime unless the diplomat’s home country waives immunity, according to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. While it’s not clear whether the woman is fully entitled to these protections, Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and local authorities have all urged U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene.

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Source:: Time – World


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