Devyani had UN immunity, says India

Devyani had UN immunity, says India

 India on Thursday claimed that its diplomat Devyani Khobragade enjoyed full diplomatic immunity at the time of her arrest in New York earlier this month as she was accredited by the United Nations as a representative of the country since the last week of August.

New Delhi claimed that Khobragade was accredited by the United Nations as an advisor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations since August 26 last. It also claimed that the arrest of the 1999 Indian Foreign Service officer by US law enforcement officials in New York on December 12 last violated the immunity she enjoyed under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
Wai Tak Chua, an officer of the Protocol and Liaison Service of the UN, issued the accreditation to Khobragade on August 26 last and it would remain valid till December 31 next. She was issued the accreditation for the “main part of the regular session” of the UNGA. The accreditation was issued on the request of Siddharth Kohli of the PMI to the UN.

The revelation came close on the heels of Khobragade’s lawyer Daniel Arshack’s claim that the US law enforcement officials mistook the Indian Foreign Service officer’s own salary mentioned in her domestic help Sangeeta Richard’s visa application form as the pay that the maid herself had been promised. A press release issued by the US Attorney for Southern District of New York on December 12 last had claimed that although Khobragade had promised to pay Sangeeta $4,500 every month when the application for the visa for the latter had been filed, the diplomat had in fact paid her maid a monthly salary of only Rs 30,000.

New Delhi on Thursday also pulled out of its hat a piece of electronic evidence to claim that Khobragade, a 1999 batch IFS officer, had in fact been accredited by the UN as an advisor to the Permanent Mission of India to the international organization and her accreditation would remain valid till December 31 next.  A copy of the e-accreditation issued by UN to Khobragade is now expected to be used by the IFS officer’s lawyer to challenge the legitimacy of her arrest by the agents of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security of the US State Department.

According to the Section 11 A of the Article 4 of the “Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations”, all representatives of the members of the international organisation enjoy “immunities from personal arrest or detention and from the seizure of their personal baggage”.

The section 16 of the same article of the convention made it clear that the “representatives” of a country should include all delegates, deputy delegates, advisors, technical experts and secretaries of the delegations.

Khobragade’s arrest, which triggered a diplomatic spat between India and the US, on December 12 was “contrary to her status” on the date, said sources in New Delhi.

Though Khobragade was posted at the Consulate General of India, she was apparently also designated as advisor to the PMI to the UN ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, which commenced in September. It is a routine practice to temporarily depute IFS officers posted elsewhere in the US to the PMI to the UN to deal with the additional workload ahead of the UNGA every year.

The PMI in the UN this year also had the additional burden of managing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the international organisation to attend the General Assembly.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry