Adding another twist to the Devyani Khobragade episode, it has now emerged that the Indian diplomat enjoyed full diplomatic immunity — including against arrest and detention — in her capacity as an advisor to the United Nations, a temporary accreditation she had from August 26 to December 31.
A file photo of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York. (Reuters)
The diplomat, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny. And the way the case is unravelling now, the window is now open for the Indian diplomat even claiming damages for the trauma she had undergone.
The diplomat’s accreditation was for the UN General Assembly session in 2013 as an “advisor to the permanent mission of India to the United Nations”, which was in effect from August 26, 2013, to December 31, 2013.
And under the “convention on the privileges and immunities of the United Nations”, article 4 section 11A specifies “immunities from personal arrest or detention and from the seizure of their personal baggage” of all representatives of members to the UN. The Article further specifies that the expression “representative” shall be deemed to include all delegates, deputy delegates, advisors, technical experts and secretaries of delegations.
“Her arrest, therefore, on December 12, 2013, was contrary to her status on that date,” sources said. The sources also said India has taken up the matter with the US State Department.
When asked why they didn’t talk about this earlier, the source said, “We were in discussions with the US in good faith. But the way they went about with the arrest shows that the Americans were in no mood to listen to us on all the facts available with us.”
The 1999-batch Indian Foreign Service officer was released on a $250,000 bond after being charged with visa fraud. Subsequent revelations that she was strip searched and held with criminals, triggered a row between the two sides with India downgrading privileges of a certain category of US diplomats.
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