“The Aquino government should initiate an immediate review of all international agreements on diplomatic immunity to make sure that cases such as this will never happen again.” Rep. Emmi de Jesus, Gabriela Women’s Party
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
The women’s organization Gabriela is urging the Philippine Senate to review the 53-year old convention that serves to protect diplomats when they commit crimes on foreign soil.
Earlier this week, Gabriela leaders supported the victim 19-year-old Pamela during the recent hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on the rape complaint against Panamanian national Erick Rayneldo Bairnals Shcks. Shcks was able to escape prosecution in the country when the DFA issued him a certification of diplomatic immunity. The DFA justified its action by saying that as a diplomat, Shcks is covered by the Vienna Convention to which the Philippines and Panama are signatories.
The women’s group urged the Philippine Senate to act quickly on the issue, particularly on the immunity of the members of the diplomatic staff who commit criminal acts in the Philippines.
“It’s about time for the Senate to review the 51-year-old agreement. “The basic principle of fairness and justice should be the primary consideration. This case must serve to aid our lawmakers in crafting an implementing law that will protect our citizens from the abuse of such diplomatic immunity,” Gabriela secretary-general Joms Salvador said.
Diplomatic immunity from prosecution
The Vienna Convention signed on May 22, 191 consists of 79 articles, most of which provide for the operation of consulates. It outlines the functions of consular agents and address the privileges and immunities granted to consular officials when posted to a foreign country.
(Photo courtesy of arkibongbayan / bulatlat.com)
When it comes to the right of diplomats as individuals, Article 36 provides for certain obligations for competent authorities in the case of an arrest or detention of a foreign national. The section provides protection in order to guarantee the inalienable right to counsel and due process through consular notification and effective access to consular protection.
The Convention also lays down the framework of diplomatic relations between independent countries that are signatories to it. In essence, it was established to help diplomats to perform their functions without having to worry about being harassed or coerced by the legal and police authorities of the host country. The Convention gives diplomats immunity from arrest, detention and free passage to leave the host country and return to their own..... MORE