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A question of immunity (diplomatic and parliamentary)

June 30, 2010

Well dear readers, whilst plodding through my usual on-line reads…..I came across this……

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/protected-diplomats-committed-serious-offences-2012874.html

……which ties in nicely to local reports  of a US Embassy employee (US citizen) brawling in the Golden Gate bar in Kyiv prior to the USA football match in the World Cup they subsequently lost to Ghana.

(The result of the Golden Gate fight resulted in the (rather large apparently) US Embassy guy remaining and the other guy being dragged away by the police.  (The other guy a US citizen also…….(apparantly numerous complaints were to be filed with the US Embassy Kyiv yesterday but who knows if that happened.  In case you are wondering, eye witnesses state the violence was started by the US Embassy employee against a fellow citizen).

So the question of immunity arises……and not only with diplomats……also every Ukrainian serving MP has immunity from prosecution.

Now there simply has to be diplomatic immunity for foreign diplomats to stop harrasment in the occasional hostile nation.  There are things that a diplomat needs to carry with him on home trips that are “sensitive to nationl interests” and therefore searching diplomats and what they carry would compromise such actions.  Therefore to allow the international gaame to continue, nations recognise diplomatic immunity.

The question is, when a diplomat does something clearly wrong and clearly in contrevention to laws in a nation…….as mentioned in the link………whilst diplomatic immunity may save their a*se from the law, should it save their a*se from a career spanking from their own nation?

Morally of course, their home nation should give them a spanking for bringing their nation into disrepute…..however, there are some quite excellent diplomatic assets who have “quirky” or “non-conformist” character traits.

Other diplomats, are of course, there by “favour”, being related to royalty or the power base in their nation and really are on nothing more than a “jolly” in a nation……but even so, they are suffered in many cases, regardless of deeds in a host nation because expelling them would cause more headaches than their deeds.

Moving along a bit, what about the MPs of Ukraine who also enjoy absolute immunity (unless stripped by their fellows)?

Well, Ukraine is not alone with parliamentary immunity……it is the degree to which is is given that makes it unusual.

The UK has Parliamentary Privilage, which means an MP cannot be prosecuted for things under civil law (although criminally there is no such exemption as here).  Parliamentary priviage guarantees an MP can enjoy absolute freedom of speech when in the parliamentary building (amonsgt other things)…..meaning they can avoid prosecution from things like slander…….but they can be arrested any time, anywhere even for common assualt and prosecuted criminally.

So why do Ukrainian politicians need absolute immunity…….similar to foreign diplomats……in Ukraine?

Well of course, each and every one has more skeletons in their cupboards than the combined total in church crypts globally……and could be subject to “investigation” at any time should they fall out with those in power at any given time if they did not have all encompassing immunity.

It is of course quite wrong that MPs should enjoy 24/7 absolute immunity here, but understandable why they are exteremely unlikely to remove their get out of jail free cards, knowing, as they do, they have all committed acts in the past, that subject to investigation, will put them in a gulag.

This of course, does nothing to avoid the continuing corruption amongst MPs as they remain fire-proof.

They way forward could be, a continuence of immunity whilst in the RADA for words (and possibly deeds in the form of legislature) carried out there……but leave the building at the end of the working day and the immunity ends.

To accomplish this though, there would have to be an amnesty on all previous wrong-doings across the board for all MPs past or present……but not future (otherwise becoming an MP would be similar to a Presidential pardon).

The issue with this is that some MPs have been implicated in exceptionally violent acts and conspiracies to cause such acts.  It is one thing to have an amnesty on past frauds, thefts, laundering and “white colour” crimes in a drive to have MPs accountable from here on in……..but it is another to give absolution for just any past act.

Given that amnesty for past acts is really the only way MPs will remove their own absolute immunity, replacing it with something similar to parliamentary privilage, is this a price worth paying for the ability to prosectue them for any further “white collar” crimes…..of which the State (and therefore the people of Ukraine) are normally the injured party?

The cycle must be broken or the corruption will continue……..but how to break the cycle when only the MPs have the power to strip themselves of their own immunities?

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2 comments

  1. I am from Brazil and here we face the same problem from many places around the world: Privileges = corruption. I am writing an article to my marter degree and I wonder if I could receive material about this subject in my e-mail adrees. If someone can help me I would be really thankfull.
    P.S. My article is about Parlimantary Immunity.


  2. a very interesting topic and I have to agree, totally with your summation: how will the cycle ever be broken when those abusing their privelages are the only ones who can end them. a great catch 22 that i’m going to present to my law lecturer and ask how he would go about addressing the problem.



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