Netherlands to prosecute diplomats

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Expats with diplomatic status have, since 2010, committed 85 indictable offenses in the Netherlands. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinBuZa) confirmed a report about this from RTL Nieuws. 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans (PvdA), said Saturday evening on RTL Nieuws that he wants the possibility of prosecution to follow any indication of indictable offense.

Source: Wikimedia/M.Minderhoud

The offenders cannot yet be approached because they enjoy diplomatic immunity. The diplomats are most often guilty of committing traffic violations, RTL reports according to data from the ministry. Since 2010, 42 diplomats have been held by police. In two out of three cases, alcohol was a factor. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also stated that refusal to take a Breathalyzer test was also a concern.

Russians and Chinese are highest offenders.

Domestic abuse within diplomat families has, according to RTL, already been reported eight times. Thirteen diplomats have been caught on shop theft and other petty crime charges. Russians and Chinese have, over the last few years, been the most guilty of committing offenses. Diplomats from these countries were caught offending six times.

Colombia has called back a diplomat after it appeared hat he had ties with drug dealers. Foreign Affairs requested Suriname to call back a diplomat in 2011 who was found guilty of violent theft and extortion.

Foreign Affairs admits that there are still 187 traffic fines outstanding. Increased interest in traffic violations and other summary offenses committed by diplomats in the Netherlands has, according to the ministry, resulted in half of the outstanding fines being paid by diplomats.

Employees of International Crime Court also admit to committing offenses.

Officials under employment of international organizations seem not to adhere to the rules of justice and peace they are paid to uphold. Several employees of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Den Haag have committed acts of violence, driving under the influence and vandalism. An official from the Organization for the Ban of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was held on charges of public intoxication and verbal abuse. 

There are around twenty thousand people in The Netherlands with diplomatic immunity. These are ambassadors, embassy employees, officials, employees of international organizations and their immediate family members.

More than half of the foreign diplomats who have been involved in an incident in the last four years have received a formal warning letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The majority of the offenses have been reported by mail or telephone to the appropriate embassies. In very severe cases, the ministry will ask to revoke the immunity of a diplomat so that they can be charged. This has happened three times over the last few years.

Timmermans: Impossible to ignore incidents. 

Minister Timmermans stated in a declaration from his ministry that it is bothersome for diplomats when Foreign Affairs comes calling. They could lose their jobs, he said. With twenty thousand so-called 'privileged', it is not possible to shut out any incidents.

"But I do find it too much and I think that we should tackle it differently in the future than the way it has been done up to now."

Timmermans earlier announced that he would recommend a new plan of action to parliament in which, among other points, diplomats who don't pay their outstanding traffic fines should no longer be able to use their tax-free gas cards. The ministry will also discuss the plan with the corps dimplomatique in Den Haag "to make sure that diplomats are familiar with Dutch laws and rules."

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