Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 14:59
The Hague to tackle diplomat misbehavior
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinBuZa) will publish yearly reports of misbehavior among personnel of embassies and other international organizations. The report will consist of a list of people employed as civil servants who misbehaved or failed to pay traffic fines. MinBuZa also wants the ability to withdraw the diplomatic immunity of foreign diplomats who have caused trouble in the country. With this, the Public Prosecution Authority (OM) will be able to prosecute them and strive to cut their service in the Netherlands short. The request for the removal of someone's diplomatic immunity will become a rule rather than an exception in serious cases such as abuse or causing bodily harm by driving under the influence. Ministers Frans Timmermans (Foreign Affairs) and Ivo Opstelten (Security and Justice) proposed this to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. If a country refuses to withdraw immunity, the Ministry will attempt to end the diplomat's stay in the Netherlands. The overview from embassies and international organizations will be published every Summer. Prior to this, the Ministry will advise them to pay outstanding fines so that publication can be prevented. MinBuZa is negotiating with the municipality of The Hague if the municipal fines and levies can also be published. Tax-free gas pumping cards may also be seized. In that case, diplomats have to save receipts and send these with documents to the Tax Administration for a refund. This is very tiresome, and bureaucratic, which seems to make it an effective measure in other countries, the ministers claim. The catalyst for this move is a range of incidents in which foreign diplomats misbehaved, but got away with it due to their immunity. On Saturday, it became known that a 27-year old Afghan diplomat beat a 23-year old Dutch person during a fight in traffic. The Department of Justice decided to let him walk because of his immunity. Afghanistan warned the Netherlands not to take the matter too high up or into the public eye because the Dutch embassy in Kabul might come under threat. The Afghan diplomat, A.S., was third secretary in the embassy of Afghanistan in The Hague. S. blocked the parking lot of a Lidl supermarket in Zoetermeer in December last year with his BMW, complete with CD-number plate. A newly married couple hooted at him, inciting an argument Last year, Russian diplomat Dmitri Borodin was apprehended by police after it was reported that he abused his children. The arrest led to a diplomatic row with Russia. Borodin was not prosecuted, but did leave the Netherlands. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, diplomats cannot be lawfully prosecuted, and may also not be arrested. They do, however, have to adhere to local rules and laws in the host country.