Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

continue to have the same complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction which diplomatic agents presently enjoy, they shall have immunity from civil jurisdiction only with respect to their official acts. Another new rule is that a diplomatic agent and his family will have no immunity from jurisdiction with respect to certain nonofficial matters such as private professional or commercial activities.

The convention does not increase the number of persons in the United States who will be entitled to diplomatic privileges and immunities except in one limited respect; it provides that families of members of the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission will have immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

This is a new immunity for families of that category of person. Senator CHURCH. Will you restate that, please?

Mr. MEEKER. The families of members of the administrative and technical staff under the convention would have immunity from criminal jurisdiction where prior to the convention members of the families would not have that immunity, although the administrative and technical staff members themselves would have it.

CATEGORIES OF DIPLOMATIC PERSONNEL

Senator CHURCH. How broadly is the administrative and technical staff defined in the convention?

Mr. MEEKER. It is defined in article I, paragraph (f), where it is statedthe members of the administrative and technical staff are the members of the staff of the mission employed in the administrative and technical service of the mission.

That excludes diplomatic officers, such as the counselors, the first secretaries, and the second secretaries, but it does include clerical personnel, communications personnel, people like that.

Senator CHURCH. What about the ordinary domestic help?

Mr. MEEKER. No. They would not be included in the administrative and technical staff. They would come under the next paragraph of article I where the service staff is defined as members of the staff of the mission in the domestic service of the mission. Now that is separate, of course, from the private servants of individual members of the mission. Those are defined in article I, paragraph (h).

The United States, as I was indicating earlier, does have to consider the individual provisions in the convention on diplomatic relations both from the viewpoint of this country as a receiving state, and from the viewpoint of this country as a sending state. It is to our advantage to obtain all the privileges and immunities necessary to enable our diplomatic missions, and the officers and employees attached to them, to perform their duties effectively and under conditions which are conducive to their proper discharge.

Naturally, also, we want to maintain reasonable limitations on the privileges and immunities enjoyed by officers and employees of foreign diplomatic missions in the United States. In our judgment, the Vienna Convention represents a good balancing of those interests.

OPTIONAL PROTOCOL

I would like to say a word now about the optional protocol concerning the compulsory settlement of disputes which provides that disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of the convention shall lie within the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, and may be brought before the Court by any party to the dispute, unless the parties have agreed that before resorting to the Court they will first resort to an arbitral tribunal or will adopt a conciliation procedure. The protocol is in keeping with the U.S. position in favor of the use of the Court for the resolution of legal disputes. Adoption of the protocol is desirable as a means of securing uniformity in the interpretation of the provisions of the convention.

NEED FOR LEGISLATION

Next I should like to comment very briefly indeed on the proposed legislation which we will shortly be transmitting, which is designed to complement the Vienna Convention itself.

The convention, being a treaty, if it is ratified will, of course, be the law of the land and does not itself require legislation in order to make it the law. However, there are certain changes which we think would be desirable in existing statutes in the light of the convention, if, in fact it comes into force with respect to the United States.

First of all, the legislation would repeal three sections in title XXII of the United States Code. Those are sections 252, 253 and 254. These sections are derived from an act of Congress of April 30, 1790, a very old statute indeed. We think that the wording of them has now become archaic and is not useful in relation to present-day conditions, and present-day terminology.

We think the language of the old statutes is inconsistent with some of the definitions of mission personnel and private servants that are contained in the Vienna Convention. Moreover, these statutory provisions, sections 252 to 254, if they were left on the books unchanged, would operate to provide a greater measure of immunity than is required by the convention and indeed a greater measure than most other governments would accord to American diplomatic personnel.

Therefore, we would like to see removed from the books those statutes which would compel us to go beyond the immunities called for in the convention itself.

Now the new legislation besides repealing those old sections, would have another purpose. They would authorize the President to apply the Vienna Convention to the diplomatic missions of countries which had not become parties to the Vienna Convention. There are some countries who are not now parties to the convention, and indeed for quite some period of time it is possible that a number of countries will not become parties to this convention and we would like to have a basis for the President to accord to those other countries the same immunities which are provided for in the convention.

We would also like to have authority, and the legislation contains a grant of authority, for the President to accord to some diplomatic missions of other countries, on a basis of reciprocity somewhat greater immunities than are required to be granted by the convention. We are

[blocks in formation]

thinking here in such areas as customs privileges and tax exemptions, when it is in our national interest to grant and to secure for ourselves abroad a larger measure of immunity than what is provided for by the convention.

In these areas today our missions in a number of countries abroad do enjoy a somewhat wider degree of immunity than what the convention requires, and we would like to have the President enabled to provide reciprocal treatment here as a way of gaining for us advantages which we think are important to our missions abroad.

EXAMPLE OF DIPLOMATIC RIGHTS

Senator CHURCH. Will you give us any examples that would be illustrative in connection with any particular country.

Mr. MEEKER. One or two examples would be, first of all, the right of a diplomatic officer to have continuing free entry for articles that he might want in his post.

Now in the United States this is not a very significant kind of immunity because of the wide availability of all kinds of merchandise here, but if an American diplomat officer is stationed at a somewhat remote post, perhaps in Africa or Asia or some other capitals, what is available to the local market may be very limited indeed, so if he has the right of bringing in free of duty during his whole stay articles that he may need in his household, this is a valuable concession for us to have. We think that it is quite worth while from our point of view.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I should like to emphasize that the virtue of this Vienna Convention, we believe, is its establishment of a uniform standard of treatment for diplomatic missions and their personnel throughout the world. As such, it is a valuable contribution not only to the continuing process of codifying international law but also to the elimination of inequalities in the application of diplomatic law and practice.

We therefore hope that the Senate will see fit to give its advice and consent to the ratification of this treaty and of the optional protocol on the settlement of disputes.

Senator CHURCH. I think, Mr. Meeker, that the first questions I will put to you are meant generally to cast this convention in rather broad terms so that we can begin to get some perspective on just what may be entailed here. Then we will have more specific questions to ask either now or later about it.

EFFECT OF CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL LAW

First of all, in what major respect does the convention constitute a departure from present international law or practice?

Mr. MEEKER. I suppose one of the principal differences between this convention and existing international law lies in the following new disposition which the convention makes in the area of immunities.

The convention divides the personnel of a diplomatic mission into

First, by the diplomatic agents who are the head of mission and other professional diplomatic officers; second, the class of administrative and technical personnel; and finally, the service staff.

three groups.

Under the convention the rules of immunity will be different for those three groups. The first class of diplomatic agents will have virtually complete immunity from both civil and criminal jurisdiction. There is a little difference here regarding diplomatic agents under the convention. Under international law today, diplomatic agents have complete immunity without exceptions.

However, under the Vienna Convention there will be some exceptions and they are set forth in article 31, paragraph 1. Those exceptions relate to the following things. If there is a civil action, a judicial proceeding, relating to real estate in the territory of the receiving state, and if a diplomatic agent is a party thereto he is subject to jurisdiction unless he happens to hold the property on behalf of his government. But if he holds it for himself and in his own name, then he would be subject to suit.

The same would be true under the next subparagraph of article 31, subparagraph 1(b), if the diplomatic agent were involved in some probate proceedings as executor, administrator, heir or legatee in a private capacity

And finally, if the diplomatic agent engages in any professional or commercial activity outside of his official duties as a diplomatic agent when he would be subject to the jurisdiction of the receiving state with respect to those nonofficial acts of a professional or commercial character.

NATURE OF IMMUNITIES Senator CHURCH. These provisions, then, impose certain limitations on the privileges and immunities that heretofore have been recognized ?

Mr. MEEKER. They do. They narrow the immunities somewhat. Where it is a hundred percent today, it will be reduced in these relatively minor respects for diplomatic agents.

Senator CHURCH. Now, as to the second category.

Mr. MEEKER. The next category is the administrative and technical staff. Under the convention they will have a degree of immunity which is less than what diplomatic agents have. They will have full immunity, from criminal jurisdiction but they will have immunity from civil jurisdiction only with respect to official acts. So this is somewhat narrower.

Senator CHURCH. What are the present customs?

Mr. MEEKER. Today those persons have full immunity. Then the service staff have an even narrower degree of immunity. Their immunity is limited to immunity from income tax, from social security tax, and from process with respect to official acts. With respect to nonofficial matters they are subject not only to civil jurisdiction but even to criminal prosecution as well.

Today a chauffeur or another member of the service staff of an embassy would have full immunity unless, of course, in this country he were an American citizen or permanent resident of the United States. So that in those respects, the Vienna Convention will cut down the degree of immunity which is provided for in international law as it is currently being applied.

а

IMMUNITIES OF AMERICAN NATIONALS EMPLOYED BY EMBASSIES

[ocr errors]

Senator CHURCH. Let me inquire about the status of an American citizen employed in a domestic role by a foreign embassy in this country under present law and custom. What immunities does such a person have now and what will they be under the convention?

Mr. MEEKER. In the case of a chauffeur or other domestic employee today he would have immunity with respect to official acts; that is, if he is an American citizen employed in a domestic capacity. Under the convention, I think under article 38 he would have that same level of immunity. In that particular case the convention does not really make a change. Article 38, paragraph 1, reads as follows:

Except insofar as additional privileges and immunities may be granted by the receiving state, a diplomatic agent who is a national of or permanently resident in that state shall enjoy only immunity from jurisdiction, and inviolability in respect of official acts performed in the exercise of his functions.

That is with respect to a diplomatic agent.

Paragraph 2 relates to other members of the staff, the administrative and technical group, and finally the service staff and it says

Other members of the staff of the mission and private servants who are nationals of or permanently resident in the receiving state shall enjoy privileges and immunities only to the extent admitted by the receiving state. However, the receiving state must exercise its jurisdiction over those persons in such a manner as not to interfere unduly with the performance of the functions of the mission.

That last statement is a suggestion but it is not a rigid one, that official actions would be an area in which the service staff would have immunity today under the convention.

Senator CHURCH. Providing that the receiving nation is willing to give it.

Mr. MEEKER. Yes.

Senator CHURCH. Does that complete your answer to my question, Mr. Meeker?

TAX IMMUNITIES Mr. MEEKER. There are other differences and perhaps I might review just a few more of the principal ones. Article 34 of the Vienna Convention now sets forth comprehensively the exemptions from taxes which are to be granted to diplomatic agents. In the past there has been some unclarity and at times some difference of view about the applicability of exemption from taxes and in certain tax situations.

Article 34 undertakes to settle this by providing that a diplomatic agent, a member of the first group, diplomatic officers, shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional or municipal, except, among others, for the following:

Indirect taxes of a kind which are normally incorporated in the price of goods and services.

Second, dues and taxes on private immovable property, land situated in the territory of the receiving state, unless the diplomatic agent holds it for the use of the mission.

Third, estate, succession, or inheritance duties levied by the receiving state subject to the provisions of paragraph 4 in article 39, which provides if a diplomatic agent dies while in service in the receiving

« AnteriorContinuar »