The diplomatic immunity of the US envoy’s wife, who allegedly killed a British teenager and fled to the United States, is no longer pertinent. According to British media, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wrote a letter to the family of Harry Dunn, the teenager who died in the fatal crash, in which he claimed that the US also no longer considers the diplomatic immunity pertinent.
The accident reportedly took place near RAF Croughton, a British military base near Oxford, on August 27, when a car collided with 19-year-old Harry Dunn’s bike. Anne Sacoolas, 42, the diplomat’s wife, is the prime suspect in the case and the police were preparing to arrest and interrogate the woman but before it could happen, she left for the US.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier urged the diplomat’s wife to return to the UK to face investigation, adding that he will raise the issue with the White House if needed. Johnson was not in favour of using “the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose”. Though the US embassy was apprehensive about the call to waive the diplomatic immunity.
“Any questions regarding a waiver of the immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry,” a U.S. Embassy spokesperson had said.
As per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, family members of diplomats living in other countries enjoy immunity from arrest in most of the cases. Under Article 32 of the Vienna convention, the immunity can be waived by the sending state and it must always be express.
“Waiver of immunity from jurisdiction in respect of civil or administrative proceedings shall not be held to imply the waiver of immunity in respect of the execution of the judgement, for which a separate waiver shall be necessary,” reads Article 36(4).