October 12, 2019
Jovianne Waltrick was just 16 years old in 1997, when she was killed in a five-car pile-up in Washington DC caused by a drunk-driving Georgian diplomat named Gueorgui Makharadze.
How Harry Dunn’s Death Is Testing The Limits Of Diplomatic Immunity
A US court sentenced Makharadze to seven years in prison after Georgia waived his right to diplomatic immunity, the legal exemption granted to officials working abroad by their host state.
Twenty-two years later, an American woman has found herself in an eerily similar position, suspected of involvement in the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn in a road accident in August. As the wife of an American diplomat, Anne Sacoolas was granted diplomatic immunity and left the UK.
Unlike Georgia, however, the US has refused to waive diplomatic immunity for Sacoolas, sparking outrage from the British public and anger from Harry Dunn’s family.
The teenager’s father Tim Dunn said: “We can’t let our son die and then nothing be answered for.”The row has reached the top levels of government in both countries, with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump speaking out on the issue.
On Friday, Johnson said that he had pressed Trump to lift Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity.
“In my experience, America is very, very reluctant to allow its nationals to be tried overseas, and is absolutely ruthless in enforcing the code of diplomatic immunity,” the prime minister said.
“I must say, I don’t think it was appropriate for that provision to be used in this case.”
So is diplomatic immunity fit for purpose, or is it simply a get out of jail free card? 
Diplomatic immunity is one of the few things that is almost universally agreed upon by states around the world. Its governing treaty, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, has 192 (of a possible 195) state signatories, far more than equivalents on climate change, chemical weapons or racial discrimination.
The reason is simple – it’s in the interests of all states to abide by a law that ensures their diplomats can work abroad without the threat of being detained, harassed or taken hostage in an international incident.
Diplomats working in friendly countries have little to fear from such threats, but a universal treaty has to be applied universally – all diplomats, no matter where in the world they are working, have the same protections.
“The key point is that you’re asking people to go themselves and take their families into difficult circumstances in many cases, and to do that you have to provide them with a level of protection that they otherwise might not require or need,” said Craig Barker, professor of international law at the London South Bank University.
“Most diplomats, in fact all diplomats apart from a few renegade diplomats, in spite of having immunity, comply with the law both in their official acts and in their private acts.”But it’s these “renegade” incidents that thrust diplomatic immunity into the spotlight and spark impassioned debates about just how far its protections should extend.
One of the most famous cases involving diplomatic immunity was the death of Metropolitan police officer Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot dead from the window of the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.
After an 11-day siege at the embassy, all those inside made their way out and were granted diplomatic immunity. The incident severed diplomatic relations between the UK and Libya.And last December, the foreign office said a diplomat had been expelled from the UK following allegations of two rapes and one attempted rape from 2017. The diplomat’s home country rejected the UK’s request to waive the suspected perpetrator’s immunity.
In the case of Sacoolas, lawyer Chris Daw QC told HuffPost UK that diplomatic immunity had been applied correctly “in the legal sense” and that it is “an absolute right in the hands of the country which has appointed the diplomat to a foreign jurisdiction”.
“But the question isn’t really around the legal side of this,” he added. “It’s not about guilt, it’s about whether or not she will participate in the due process of an English criminal investigation.”
“All the police want to do is investigate properly, conduct an interview with this lady and send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service. And then, if there is evidence, they want to follow the due process of law. That’s all the police, the government and, as I understand it, the family are asking for.”
Ultimately, the decision lies with Trump. So far, he has been dismissive towards the UK’s concerns, saying at a press conference earlier this week that wrong-way driving is something that “happens”. Notes he carried with him during the event suggested that the official US position is that Sacoolas “will not return to the UK”.
Daw told HuffPost UK that the president’s nationalistic tendencies could factor into his decision-making process, particularly as he campaigns for re-election.
Trump may feel that “it’s more important to be seen to be standing up for an American than it is to be protecting the rule of law in another country,” Daw said.
Politically, Daw said, the president might be reluctant to “throw one of their own to the wolves in another country”.
But the options open to the Americans aren’t binary – they can still uphold the immunity of their citizen while taking steps to address the anguish of the Dunn family.
Daw adds: “The really right thing for them to do is to apologise to the family, write a serious letter of condolence and offer compensation but there’s no requirement on them to do that.” 
Even if Trump declines to waive Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity, however, Dunn’s family would still have some potential avenues for legal recourse, and the family’s lawyer and spokesman, Radd Seiger, said that Dunn’s parents were engaging lawyers to take a civil case against Sacoolas in America.
There’s also the possibility that Sacoolas’ conscience gets the better of her and she returns to the UK of her own accord.
“The Vienna Convention states immunity is removed after the end of the diplomatic appointment so given that she and her husband have left the UK, one assumes they no longer have any diplomatic accreditation,” said Barker.
And there is also one more, and far more dramatic, option open to Dunn’s family – suing the US government itself in a UK court.
“What they would have to do, and it’s not going to be easy, is in the UK they would have to show attribution – that Sacoolas’ actions could be attributed to the US,” Barker said.
“Now, that might be a stumbling block if they were purely private acts. However, given that the immunity belongs to the US, you could argue that it’s the US that should be the respondent in this case.
“The US would normally have immunity under the State Immunity Act (SIA), but there is a clear exception in the SIA for cases involving personal injury and death.”On Friday, Harry’s auntie Katie Grant and family friend Nicola Watson told the PA News Agency they would be launching a green ribbon campaign around the area where he lived in memory of the teenager.
She said: “Grief doesn’t come close to what I’ve felt to be honest with you.
“I’ve never had anyone young and so close actually go. When you’re older you kind of accept that they’ve had their life.”Related... Boris Johnson Calls US 'Absolutely Ruthless' For Safeguarding Suspect In Harry Dunn Death Donald Trump Defends US Diplomat's Wife Over Death Of British Teenager Harry Dunn Photo Of Donald Trump's 'Secret' Notes Reveal US's Stance On Diplomatic Immunity Road Crash Row
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Netflix Shares Skyrocket Following Blowout Q4 Results
January 19, 2021
plCb9L5qQeQ
How The Bee Gees Brothers Found Success As Songwriters
January 19, 2021
MpWcrHh7-_E
'Silence of the Lambs' Reunion! Anthony Hopkins & Jodie Foster Talk Dr. Lecter | Actors and Actors
January 19, 2021
u2QjdRaLfa8
Al Roker gets COVID-19 vaccine on the ‘Today’ show | Page Six Celebrity News
January 19, 2021
YWK9m-xC-TA
Tommy Hilfiger dumps $45 million Greenwich mansion for sunny Florida | Page Six Celebrity News
January 19, 2021
7cOiYIxtVLo
Inside Chris Evans’ abandoned $3.5 million mansion | Page Six Celebrity News
January 19, 2021
xLrSqGRx9D0
Alice Marie Johnson Says Helping Others Get Pardons Better Than Her Release | TMZ
January 20, 2021
U52X1wmSAZc
Joe Biden Can Unite Country Right Away Says Historian Dr. Allan Lichtman | TMZ
January 19, 2021
BN-nsfNuxC8
Sen. Lindsey Graham Chooses Inauguration Over Trump Farewell, Heavy Security at Airport | TMZ
January 19, 2021
J4ufQ8v-quk
Clare & Dale Split, Michael & Lori Vacay and Cardi vs. Hamburger
January 20, 2021
NdUGK2e0onA
"Celebrating America" Inauguration Special Best Moments
January 20, 2021
1RNXWWWLY9o
5 Things to Know About Inauguration Poet Amanda Gorman | E! News
January 20, 2021
JvUXTQL1-0w
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Aston Villa
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Bayern Munich
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Manchester United
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Preston NE
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Bristol City
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Cardiff City - QPR
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Millwall
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Middlesbrough
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Luton
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
SC Freiburg - Eintracht Frankfurt
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - Union Berlin
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Arminia Bielefeld - Stuttgart
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Schalke - Koln
20
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Granada CF
20
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Betis - Celta Vigo
20
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Huesca
20
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Atalanta
19
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Dortmund
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Chelsea
18
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Newcastle United
18
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - AC Milan
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Juventus
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Manchester United
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - Tottenham Hotspur
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Crystal Palace
17
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - SC Freiburg
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Fiorentina
16
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Mainz
16
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Chelsea
15
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Roma
14
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Crystal Palace
13
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Brighton
13
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Fulham
13
Jan
GERMANY: National cup
Holstein Kiel - Bayern Munich
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.