UN immunity won't affect Devyani case: US

Washington, Dec 21 : The Unites States has said though transferring Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade to India's Permanent Mission at the United Nations will give her temporary immunity, it will not affect the visa fraud case against her.

"It's more legally accurate to say that the concept of retroactive immunity isn't the right way to look at a situation like this. So if we take a step back just on the issue broadly, diplomatic immunity means, among other things, that a foreign diplomat is not subject to criminal jurisdiction in the United States for the time they are a diplomat, for the time they have that immunity," said U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki in her daily press briefing on Friday.

"So it does not - however, when immunity is conferred, it does not retroactively take effect at a previous point in time, but relates solely to the diplomat's current status," she said.

"So I think some of the confusion here has been if there is a change in status, does that mean that there is a clean slate from past charges? There's not. Receiving diplomatic immunity does not nullify any previously existing criminal charges. Those remain on the books.

"So it just is related to - nor does obtaining diplomatic immunity protect the diplomat from prosecution indefinitely. It relates to the status for - to a diplomat's current status for the length of the time of that status," said Psaki.

Admitting that this new immunity would prevent her from getting arrested again, the spokesperson said: "... it would apply during the time if for instance - and this is all purely hypothetical, speculative, right, and there are a range of different options that could happen here - but for anyone, it would apply for the length of time that they have that diplomatic status. But it doesn't retroactively wipe out past discretions."

Asked if Khobragade will leave the country as she couldn't get rearrested, Psaki said: "Well, I don't want to speculate on that. And again, there are so many different scenarios here. I know that you all want to play them out, and we certainly try to have the best answers we can, but I don't want to play it out to that degree.

"But it means that during the time of that status, if there's a different status granted, doesn't mean it wipes out past discretions."

Meanwhile, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sources said the US statement on Khobragade's immunity is not worrisome.

--IBNS (Posted on 21-12-2013)

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