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By Duncan Hollis

Ps&Is for DWIs – What should the Public Know?

by Duncan Hollis

In order for diplomatic missions to function, international law has long accorded diplomats and their families immunity from all local criminal laws.  And when a major crime occurs involving a diplomat, there's often a lot of press attention on the case by virtue of the privileges and immunities (Ps&Is) involved.

But Ps&Is aren't limited to allegations of rape or manslaughter, they extend to ALL local laws, often posing problems for the host State as it tries to police dangerous behavior while also complying with its international law obligations.  So, how do States deal with day-to-day misdemeanors or mid-level criminal activities?  In Australia, they write letters.  As this story in ninemsn notes:

More than two dozen foreign diplomats and consular officials have been warned about repeated or serious driving offences on Australian soil over the past three years.

The offences include drink driving, speeding more than 30km/h over the limit, running red lights, driving while talking on a mobile phone and not wearing a seat belt. But none of the offenders can be prosecuted or even lose their driving licence because of diplomatic immunity.

The offences are outlined in 26 warning letters sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs since 2010 to the heads of various foreign embassies and consulates about members of staff who had lost seven or more demerit points on their licence or who were involved in a serious driving incident that came to the attention of police.

One letter describes a diplomat who lost 15 demerit points from 11 speeding fines in just 15 months. Another refers to a diplomat who was deemed too drunk to continue driving after being intercepted by police on Canberra's Commonwealth Avenue Bridge at 1am on a Sunday. Police only agreed to release him when one of his own passengers agreed to get behind the wheel and take him home.

The story links to the actual letters sent out by the Australian Foreign Ministry - see here.  I found the extensive redactions especially interesting -- looking at the documents, you don't know who did what or what government she or he represented.  The Australian Chief of protocol explains that disclosing such details could damage Australia's good relations with foreign governments and "their willingness to cooperate and communicate with Australian government officials in the future."

Hmmm.  Now, I'm a supporter of P&Is for their functional value -- I truly believe they are a key cog in diplomatic machinery.  But, I'm less sanguine about the lack of transparency the Australian letters suggest.

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Supreme Court decides to revisit Missouri v. Holland after all!

by Duncan Hollis

by Duncan Hollis Just a quick entry (it’s late here in Tokyo) to note that the Supreme Court is going to hear the case of U.S. v. Bond, which, in effect, revisits the question of Missouri v. Holland and the scope of Congress’s power to implement U.S. treaty obligations.  Over at Volokh this past week, Nick Rosenkranz [...]

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Still Waiting to Revisit Missouri v Holland?

by Duncan Hollis

by Duncan Hollis I’m in Tokyo for the Spring semester teaching in Temple Law’s semester abroad program.  But that hasn’t stopped me from watching the Supreme Court, particularly it’s decision on whether or not to revisit Missouri v Holland via the case of Carol Anne Bond and the question of the scope of Congress’s power to [...]

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China invokes UNCLOS in claiming sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands

by Duncan Hollis

by Duncan Hollis I’m gearing up for a Spring Semester teaching at Temple’s Tokyo campus.  As part of my preparations, I’ve begun to read-into some of the maritime boundary disputes between China and Japan that have caused so much friction between the two nations of late.  Recent news reports have emphasized (i) China’s moves by air [...]

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Knock. Knock. Who’s There? Best Treaty in The World

by Duncan Hollis

by Duncan Hollis It’s that time of year when things get really busy in the law school environment (not to mention the pre-holiday press of government service, firm work, etc.).  So, for those of you looking for a momentary break from the memo-drafting, exam-writing, grading, article research, whirlwind of holiday events, etc., I submit to [...]

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