Home > Free, innocent, Pakistani Chile, Saif > Diplomatic immunity or impunity?

Diplomatic immunity or impunity?

As societies and civilizations interacted at an international level, a need arose to reach certain agreements and codes to regulate efficient interactions of sovereign countries in each other’s territories. “The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 codified the modern diplomatic practices, including a practice known as “diplomatic immunity”. A myriad of countries are signatories to these treaties.

Laws are made for the human beings and not the other way round. The Constitution of the United States guarantees everyone on US soil, the following rights:

  • The First Amendment rights – freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
  • The right to equal protection under the law – protection against unlawful discrimination.
  • The right to due process – fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of liberty or property is at stake.
  • The right to privacy – freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into personal and private affairs.

These golden laws not only make the United States a great country where thousands of people from all corners of the world have immigrated, but also make it a strong democracy and a place where the principles of equality before the law and humanity are paramount.

There is no intention whatsoever to point fingers at anyone. The intention is to highlight an issue that has, as repeated several times, caused so much pain and tension to an innocent person and his family.

Since May 10th 2010, there has been considerable hype around a case of an innocent Pakistani citizen who was arrested in Chile based on false accusations. Besides a major development regarding the proving of the fact that there were no traces of any explosive substance on Saif’s hands, skin and clothes, the investigations continue without any conclusive result. During this period, many “bold claims” and accusations were made against innocent Saif Khan and a vile propaganda campaign was launched.

To complicate the matters at this juncture, a crucial facet of the investigation remains inconclusive due to the invoking of “diplomatic immunity”. The officials of the company Inter-Con Security Systems responsible for security at the US embassy in Chile gave no details of what happened on May 10th.  In addition, Mr. Bill Whitaker (a consular) who had initially called Saif Khan to the US embassy Santiago, handled his educational documents, locked him in a room, was instrumental in his arrest on May 10th 2010. Mr. Whitaker has not testified before the prosecution due to the invoking of diplomatic immunity. It is still not clear why Mr. Whitaker called Khan to the embassy in the first place and that too in such an unprofessional way. This immunity has been invoked probably according to Article 24. Article 29 of the Vienna Convention (1961) states that:

The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

On the other hand, the Vienna Convention is also explicit that:

Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State.” (Diplomatic Immunity)

What justice can be done when there is no cooperation from an important stakeholder in the entire scenario? While everything about innocent Saif Khan’s spotless life is open to the media, since the very first day, the case has been run in secrecy by the opponents. Instead, what were made public were false stories reflective of paranoia and lack of maturity from the opponents. The Chilean Senator Alejandro Navarro recently criticized the decision of the embassy, and said that there is “something strange” behind this order.

It is a universal truth that moral standing is far above any diplomatic immunity, and no such thing should be used to destroy the life an innocent person. The universal values of truth, freedom and equality on which United States stands on are far greater than any such practices and immunities. Justice must prevail and for that there ought to be a realization that an injustice has been committed against an innocent person. Nothing about how Saif Khan was called to the US embassy Santiago and the way he was treated inside was appropriate. From the opponents side, there are more unanswered questions than any clear answers. Saif Khan is absolutely innocent, law-abiding, peaceful, honest and truthful gentleman. It is very unfortunate and unacceptable that Saif’s image has maligned and he has to go through all this terrible nightmare. No one is saying that a particular country or its embassy is to be blamed. However, the very fact that Saif Khan, a Pakistani national, was called to the US embassy in Chile is absurd and beyond understanding.

Acceptance of a mistake or misunderstanding does not make a country’s stature lower in the eyes of the world. On the contrary, a realization only raises the dignity, respect and international image. The unfortunate incident that has affected Saif Khan and his family negatively can only be rectified with a realization from the opponent’s side that an error has been made.

On Friday June 25th, the Chilean PPD Deputy Felipe Harboe in Santiago stressed the need for thorough investigations and that “our justice must conclusively state the facts, because here there have been many doubts“. PPD Deputy Felipe Harboe also said “I hope justice have all the background.” The deputy noted that “the more people who declare and more data are taken into the cause, the greater the accuracy to establish in courts of justice.”

One fact is very evident from the whole scenario, truth always prevails and the innocence of Saif is being witnessed by millions of people who are aware of this case.

  1. Paul R.
    June 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

    US constitution is hijacked by the “War of Terror” and Corporates.
    Nice article.

  2. galy
    • June 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      Muchas Gracias! Link added on News page.

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