[Blog] The Indian Diplomat’s Arrest: A Barbaric and Despicable Act. By Jose Mario De Vega

The Indian Diplomat’s Arrest: A Barbaric and Despicable Act
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the report of Namrata Brar for NDTV, “Indian diplomat arrested in US for alleged visa fraud, handcuffed in public”, December 13.

Mario De Vega

The report is about a high-ranking Indian diplomat by the name of Devyani Khobragade who was arrested arbitrarily and handcuffed in an utterly humiliating manner in full view of the public in New York “for allegedly lying on the visa application for an Indian national who worked for her for less than four dollars an hour”.

It was reported that Ms Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested on the street while she was dropping her daughter to school.

She was released later when she posted a $250,000 bail for her temporary liberty.

The most despicable aspect of this case is the grim fact that besides all of those inhumane acts that she suffered, she was also subjected to a strip-searched.

The question here is: what does her “tits” got to do to the purported crime that she allegedly committed?

If I may remind those bastard freaks who maltreated and humiliated the woman diplomat, here’s the venerable words of wisdom of the late President Nelson Mandela:

“For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity.”

I wholly concur with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he precisely described Ms Khobragade’s treatment as “deplorable” and to Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed when he said that it was his duty to restore the dignity of the diplomat.

As Mr. Khursheed told parliament:

“I think the most important, immediate concern is to ensure that no further indignity is inflicted upon the young officer. And we are taking steps to ensure legally whatever is possible that we implement that immediately…

“In terms of giving a strong, unambiguous, direct message to the United States of America: whatever I believe we were supposed to do, we did immediately…”

I am completely with the Indians in their rant and disgust with regard to this case. This case, in my view is a clear case of discrimination and undeniably an over-kill.

Indeed, no one can blame India, if they viewed the said horrible event as a national outrage.

The worst part of this incident or accident or issue or event is the irrefutable fact that this violation and humiliation was committed by the US to one of its loyal allies on the world stage. What a shame!

As the woman diplomat herself stated from a letter she wrote to her foreign service colleagues:

“Although I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride…”

The case of the woman diplomat stems from an allegation that she had presented false documents for her house help.

The order of her arrest was directed by the Indian-born Preet Bharara who is the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

As already noted, the diplomat was arrested on the basis of the charge that she “had presented false documents for the woman who worked as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York from November to June this year.”

Commentaries:

I condemn to the highest possible degree the undeniably barbaric act and indescribably despicable means used by the authorities in arresting the woman diplomat.

I am not against her arrest, that is if she indeed committed a grave offense or violated the law; but what I am firmly against is the unjust manner and the horrible means used by the arresting officer in effecting her arrest.

Undeniably, this is a vulgar display of unreasonable power and an utterly despicable exercise of unjust discretion!

Point two:

Do I have to remind those stupid officers that, even if the woman diplomat has a complaint against her, she is entitled to her constitutional rights to be arrested peacefully, honorably, professionally and with courtesy by virtue of her status!

Said woman is entitled to know the nature and the cause of the accusation against her.

She is entitled that her rights must be said to her in a peaceful conduct.

Point two:

Are those idiotic arresting officers aware that the woman subject of the arrest is a diplomat?

Do they know that in cases like this there is an international law that governs?

Did they put into consideration that provision of the Vienna Convention?

Article 41 of the said international law expressly provides that:

Personal inviolability of consular officers

1. Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.

2. Except in the case specified in paragraph 1 of this article, consular officers shall not be committed to prison or be liable to any other form of restriction on their personal freedom save in execution of a judicial decision of final effect.

Article 42 further states that the head of the consular unit or the sending State must be informed in advance of any arrest of an accredited diplomat.

It is sad to say and utterly horrible to state that the United States of America did not follow the protocol and the stipulations lay down by the said law.

By virtue of the fact of the status of Ms. Khobragade, is it beyond dispute that she is covered by diplomatic immunity as mandated by international law.

What is Diplomatic Immunity?

Diplomatic Immunity is “a form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are exempt from prosecution under the host country’s laws.”

It was agreed “as international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).”

Further, “under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) a consul is afforded a variation of diplomatic immunity called consular immunity.”

It also guarantees “immunity from the host country’s laws only with respect to acts related to consular duties.”

It was alleged by the prosecutor that the woman, by the name of Sangeeta Richard, had been exploited and made to work for “less than fair” wages.

According further to the prosecutor:

“This type of fraud on the United States and exploitation of an individual will not be tolerated…”

The NDTV further narrated that:

“Ms Khobragade, 39, who has two young daughters, is in charge of Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the consulate. The charges against her carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.”

While the BBC, Devyani Khobragade: Indian MPs demand action against US, December 18, reported that:

“The US Marshals Service Office of Public Affairs confirmed on Tuesday that she had been strip-searched.

“Ms Khobragade, 39, was arrested last Thursday in New York and later freed on a $250,000 (£153,000) bond after pleading not guilty to the charges.

“Law enforcement authorities in New York say Ms Khobragade “allegedly caused a materially false and fraudulent document to be presented, and materially false and fraudulent statements to be made, to the US Department of State in support of a visa application for an Indian national employed as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York”.

“If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for visa fraud and five years for making false statements.”

I find the request of India to the US to handle this case and settle this matter with “sensivity” absolutely reasonable by virtue of the fact of Ms. Khobragade’s diplomatic status.

I am also in agreement to Ms Khobragade’s lawyers that her arrest on the street, without being given a chance to explain, was “shocking and unprecedented.”

I subscribed to the anger of the people of India in denouncing and condemning this utterly deplorable and unimaginably barbaric and despicable act of the US.

I am also in concurrence with the retaliation and reprisal committed or done so far by India, such as the removal of the barricades outside the US embassy and their direct act of snubbing a visitation from a US delegation.

The US must know that they do not owned the world and that if they can act like bastards; then India and other aggrieved nations can also act equally like them!

The US must apologize for their madness and barbarity before this incident assumes a more frightful forms!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Sciences
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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