Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why Anwar Choose to Hide at Turkey Embassy?


Wait, don't get any ideas... this post is not going to discuss about politic nor to promote/endorse any political move. However, I am going to discuss about the reason why Dato' Seri Anwar chosed to hide (if I may use the word, pardon me if the word is not that accurate) at the Turker Embassy at the early critical moment of the sodomy case. The reason giving here is merely my personal opinion from legal point of view. Why at the embassy? Why not at some other place? or just hiding where nodoby knows? My opinion is that embassy is the best 'imune place' while at the same time not protraying himself to the public as if he was running away from accusation. And the most important, sparking international attention. All people know about 'diplomatic immunity' but very few of us really understand the limit of that diplomatic immunity. So let discuss here. As usual any further information or opinion from expert is always welcome to give comment. What is diplomatic immunity?

'Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments, which ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws (although they can be expelled). It was agreed as international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), though the concept and custom have a much longer history. Many principles of diplomatic immunity are now considered to be customary law. Diplomatic immunity as an institution developed to allow for the maintenance of government relations, including during periods of difficulties and even armed conflict. When receiving diplomats — formally, representatives of the sovereign (head of state) — the receiving head of state grants certain privileges and immunities to ensure that they may effectively carry out their duties, on the understanding that these will be provided on a reciprocal basis. As one article put it: "So why do we agree to a system in which we're dependent on a foreign country's whim before we can prosecute a criminal inside our own borders? The practical answer is: because we depend on other countries to honor our own diplomats' immunity just as scrupulously as we honor theirs."

Originally, these privileges and immunities were granted on a bilateral, ad hoc basis, which led to misunderstandings and conflict, pressure on weaker states, and an inability for other states to judge which party was at fault. Various international agreements known as the Vienna Conventions codified the rules and agreements, providing standards and privileges to all states.

It is possible for the official's home country to waive immunity; this tends to only happen when the individual has committed a serious crime, unconnected with their diplomatic role (as opposed to, say, allegations of spying), or has witnessed such a crime. Alternatively, the home country may prosecute the individual. Many countries refuse to waive immunity as a matter of course; individuals have no authority to waive their own immunity (except perhaps in cases of defection).'

source from :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomatic_immunity

Even the diplomatic agents themselve is not totally protected under diplomatic immunity, they subject to certain limitations, not to mention harbouring any particular person from host country ie Malaysia, in which may be interpreted as 'disturbing due process of law' of the host country (which also an illegal act punishable by penal code-if committed by local citizen).

The public have to differentiate between fiction and reality of the immunity granted to those diplomats.

'First and foremost, the diplomat is still covered by the laws of his home country, and may be prosecuted under those laws for any crimes he commits in the host country. Moreover, the privilege of immunity belongs to the home country, not the individual diplomat. The home country may choose to waive immunity for one of its diplomats, leaving him open to prosecution by the host country. This was a lesson learned by Gueorgui Makharadze, the number-two ranking officer in the Republic of Georgia's embassy in Washington. In January of 1997, Makharadze sped his car through the streets of the District of Columbia at up to 80 MPH, ultimately causing an accident that injured four people and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. He was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, 150% of DC's then limit. Makharadze was released from custody because he was a diplomat, but the U.S. government asked the Georgian government to waive his immunity and they agreed. Makharadze was tried and convicted of manslaughter by the U.S. and sentenced to seven to twenty-one years in prison.

The system doesn't always work flawlessly. Salem Al-Mazrooei was arrested in Virginia after he arranged to meet the thirteen-year-old girl he'd been chatting with on the Internet at a Bedford shopping mall. According to Bedford sheriff's deputies, Al-Mazrooei had made some "very graphic" requests for sex to the seventh-grader. As it happened, the person on the other end of the keyboard was neither a seventh-grader nor a girl but rather a Bedford sheriff's deputy. The case turned sour when Mr. Al-Mazrooei was arrested and immediately asserted diplomatic immunity -- he was a Saudi Arabian diplomat assigned to the Saudi embassy in Washington. After the embassy was informed of the charges, Mr. Al-Mazrooei was removed from his job but permitted to return to Saudi Arabia. He remains outside of U.S. jurisdiction to this day.'

source: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mdiploimmunity.html

After considering above cases and general principle of diplomatic immunity, and looking back at Anwar's decission to seek refuge at Turkey Embassy, in my opinion that is more of political move (assuming that he is well aware of diplomats' limitation) rather than seeking 'real protection'. That is because the diplomat can't give him the protection from due process of law (if any).

picture source: http://www.powerofculture.nl/files/images/jul07_anwaribrahim.jpg

1 comment:

  1. I personally think, malaysia is not like india. where if you don't like someone u can kill them at anytime any place. then again, they also have law to follows. to kill anwar is just a waste.. seeing the development now, one would rather kill KJ or even Pak Lah for that matter.. but why anwar??? or he actually is PARANOID????

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