Taking note of the diplomatic tussle between Saudi Arabia and India, every Indian is preoccupied with the thought as to whether diplomatic immunity gives them license to commit the crime.

After the alleged rape of the Nepali women by a diplomat of Saudi Arabia, it is felt that now the time has come when the world should ponder over the Diplomatic Immunity given. Diplomatic Immunity is one of the foundational agreements of modern international relations, where one country ensures another that their representatives will not be prosecuted and in lieu of that, the other country representatives get the reciprocal treatment. The recent public outrage started after the alleged rape of two Nepali women by a Saudi Arabian diplomat, in which the wives’ of the diplomats and others are also accused of various offences. But unfortunately, the Government’s hands were tied because of the immunity granted to them.

Under Article 31 of Vienna Convention 1961, Diplomats and their family members enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution. In addition to that, Article 29 of the Vienna Convention provides them with further safeguards, by protecting them from any form of arrest or detention and by putting an obligation on the receiving State to take all appropriate steps to prevent attack on this person, his freedom or dignity.

Though this diplomatic immunity can be waived by the nation State but in reality, they never do so. Second action the nation State can exercise is that they can try the diplomats after they return to their native soil but this also happens very rarely and even if it is done, then the chances of conducting a fair trial are very low.

After all the allegations against that diplomat were denied by Saudi Arabia and an official complaint had been registered by the embassy against the police raid on the breach of diplomatic privilege, the only option that was left was to declare him persona non grata. A person so declared is no longer welcome in that country and is usually forced to return to his or her native country. 

The notions of diplomatic immunity were introduced in order to ensure the safety of diplomats against any arbitrary State action. But now, it has been used by the diplomats as the safety tool where they commit serious crimes and then hide behind the wall of diplomatic immunity. It is odious that international conventions which were formed to protect and enforce the human rights are invoked by the diplomats to violate the same.

In the name of ensuring protection to the diplomats we cannot forget our obligation to protect victims of violence regardless of who the perpetrators are. Time has come when the governments should work together to ensure the plausible prosecutions of diplomats who are involved in such heinous crimes.

The concept is essentially meant to enable diplomats to do their jobs, protect their rights and defend themselves from hostile actions or pressure from the host country. But that should not prove to become a license for crime like it happened in the present case.