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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

Recently proposed federal legislation would remove criminal jurisdiction immunity presently enjoyed as a matter of right by foreign diplomatic and consular personnel residing in the United States. Such legislation reflects, in the authors' views, both a misplaced concern, expressed in the media and in the recent legal literature, about the threat posed to American society by "diplomatic crime," and a misunderstanding of existing international and domestic law on diplomatic privileges and immunities. The authors oppose any alteration of the present law on grounds that it is unwarranted on the facts, that it would contravene international and domestic law, that it would be inconsistent with the foundational theories underlying criminal jurisdiction immunity, and that it would unnecessarily expose the United States diplomatic corps serving abroad to reciprocal, retaliatory action by other nations. The authors argue that the present law, if vigorously pursued when appropriate, affords ample deterrence and adequate remedies. The authors also reject suggestions to mandate any insurance schemes or compensation funds for victims of diplomatic crime on grounds that this is a matter better addressed through informal negotiation conducted on a case by case basis by the State Department with the foreign mission of the offender.

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