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Political Science Professor in the News

Jennifer Abbassi talks about diplomatic immunity on WSET

2/25/2005 9:58:00 AM


The following story appeared on the Thursday, February 24, 2005 WSET News Broadcast, Lynchburg, Virginia, and is reprinted with permission.

Here's the link to the story:

Lynchburg, VA- A lot of you have had something to say about diplomatic immunity. Just what is it, and how does it work? Is it carte blanche to commit crimes? We have some answers.

If Dr. Salem Al Mazrooei, an accused sex offender arrested Wednesday in Bedford County, is a member of administrative or technical staff at an Embassy, the state department says the only thing he can be given is a traffic citation unless diplomatic immunity is revoked.

Diplomatic immunity is ancient- the Greek government extended this special status to foreign envoys. It's not meant to protect the individual, but to ensure that the person from the foreign country can perform duties for their government, in the host country. So it comes with a degree of insulation from standard law enforcement practices.

But with alleged crimes like this one in Bedford, a local expert believes it's time to revisit what immunity can and cannot do.

Professor Jennifer Abbassi, Intl. Studies Dept., RMWC - "What I suspect will happen is in the case of these sorts of crimes, perhaps there would be a revision of diplomatic immunity to say look, here's where we draw the line and beyond that international relations will not be disrupted."

In this case, Abbassi believes a review would have to be bilateral, an understanding of how to handle this case, by both countries.

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