The challenge of diplomatic immunity

Was reading this morning about an American diplomat who caused a car accident and killed a young man in England. She apparently told police she wouldn’t leave the country, but subsequently did.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/07/diplomat-wife-crash-harry-dunn-immunity/

Boris Johnson has asked the United States President to waive her diplomatic immunity so she can be extradited back to England to face charges for vehicular murder. As an aside, given her diplomatic status, it doesn’t matter if she stayed in England or left. She can’t be prosecuted there, anyway.

I have to confess I’m conflicted about this one. It’s genuinely tragic that a young man died. Horrible. And yes, his family deserves justice. 

Diplomatic Passport

However, diplomatic immunity is often the only thing standing between Americans serving abroad and death. There’s a real danger in setting a precedent that it is waivable or revokable. 

Some people on dip passports need more protection than others because they’re working in the espionage field or are working on extremely sensitive/controversial/unpopular issues in the host country. it’s worth noting that nobody’s saying anything about what this American DID in England, and honestly, in my mind, that will determine how much diplomatic protection she deserves and needs. 

Let me explain a bit further. 

What if she’s convicted of murder and ends up in the British prison system, and she knows highly classified information about our enemies? Will she be assassinated in prison? Will she be secretly interrogated by enemy agents who infiltrate the prison? Or will she just get pissed off or depressed at being in jail and start spewing classified information to her fellow inmates, who relay it to outside sources, who relay it to our enemies?

Did she do a bad thing? Absolutely. She did a terrible thing. 

Should she face consequences for it? Absolutely. 

In practical reality, is it possible that serving justice to her would compromise the national security interests of the United States to see justice executed? Absolutely.

It’s also entirely possible she’s only some American diplomat’s wife, and was driving recklessly, wantonly irresponsibly, and is purely hiding behind her dip status. I’ve long thought that the spouses of diplomats shouldn’t get the same full immunity that their diplomat spouses get.

I’m just saying, in my humble opinion, that it’s neither a simple nor straightforward issue, depending on what kind of diplomat she was.

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