Africa & Beyond

American Law Enforcement Rights and International Consular Rights: US Vs. India

Jurisprudentially, law enforcement falls under municipal law, while consular rights are under the purview of international law.

It has been universally accepted that where international law clashes with municipal law, international law will always prevail.

It was reported that the American law enforcement agents arrested an Indian consular officer in New York for failure to pay her maid the agreed fees for her domestic services, thereby violating the relevant agreement under the law.

The police overstepped their right of arrest by stripping the lady naked, which amounted to indecent assault and subjecting her to inhuman and degrading treatment.
She is a Consul-general in the Indian Consulate in New York.

As a result, she is protected by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.
Consular relations have existed among sovereign nations since ancient times .The Consul facilitates trade relations, the issuing of visas, the promotion of inter-cultural relations and other duties.

The International Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, confers on consular officers certain privileges and immunities, to help them function without let or hindrance.
Article 1 spells out clear definitional categories in order to avoid ambiguities. Article 5 spells out consular functions.

Articles 40 and 41 state that consular officers shall be treated by the receiving state with respect and shall take “all appropriate measures to prevent any attack on their persons.”
They shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in a case of grievous crime.

Now, short-paying a house maid cannot be a grievous crime under any democratic legal order.
The reactions of Indians are correct but hypocritical in the light of disgraceful rapes that have been the norm in India.
The respect for international law and conventions must be observed by all states, in their own interests.

>From existing information, the American law enforcement system is very effective. However, there is evidence that the human rights of suspected persons are often violated due to the over-zealousness and the mental attitude of officers.
A state that puts itself forward as a human right’s defender weakens its claims with Guantanamo detentions and listening to the private discussions of its citizens, and other such inexplicable practices.

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