Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Ireland

Newsline: Passport probe in Ireland as 11 stolen on way to US Embassy

A probe has been launched after 11 passports were stolen after being sent to the US Embassy for visas. The US Embassy confirmed that 11 passports were taken during a visa application process, in an incident believed to have occurred on February 28. It is understood that they were in the care of a courier delivery service when they were taken. The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that they were “aware” that a number of passports had been taken. “We did have an incident. We had 11 passports which were taken,” a US embassy spokesperson confirmed yesterday. When applying for a visa to enter the US, the necessary documentation is placed in the applicant’s passport after a lengthy application process. The embassy confirmed it had cancelled all of the visas issued.


Newsline: Man arrested for stalking Irish female diplomat in Delhi

A 28 year-old-man, who worked at the Ireland embassy, has been arrested for allegedly stalking and harassing a senior embassy official. The accused identified as Umesh was arrested after the victim and her husband approached the police. “The complainant, who is a senior position at the embassy had been receiving missed calls from several numbers even at odd hours. “Whenever she tried calling back, the number was never picked,” a police official said. Fed up by the continuous harassment, the victim and her husband approached the police. Police put the numbers on surveillance and tried to zero in on the accused but it was found that they were issued on fake documents. Investigators worked on the case systematically and narrowed down on a few suspects and Umesh was identified. After thorough interrogation, he broke down and accepted to have committed the crime. A case was registered in the matter, police said.


Newsline: Irish government to reopen ‘modest’ Vatican Embassy

The Government has decided to reopen the Irish Embassy to the Vatican as part of a wider expansion of the embassy and consulate network. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore received approval from his ministerial colleagues to open new embassies and consulates at the weekly Cabinet meeting. The list includes reopening the Vatican Embassy, as well as new Embassies in Bangkok, Jakarta, Nairobi and Zagreb and Consulates in Austin in Texas in the US, as well as in Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Hong Kong, China.


Newsline: South African diplomat in ‘slave’ scandal in Ireland

A South African diplomat in Ireland has landed herself in hot water after her former domestic worker filed charges of slave labour against her, according to reports. The Irish Independent reported that Thobeka Dlamini, charge d’affaires at the South African Embassy in Dublin, is accused of paying her former employee R24.64 an hour and allegedly forcing her to work 17-hour days. The domestic worker, who was employed by Dlamini and did not work for the embassy, reportedly worked as the diplomat’s housekeeper and looked after her three children. She moved to Dublin with the family from Pretoria in 2012. The woman had filed the complaint a year after arriving in Ireland, after being hospitalised last summer. Dlamini has reportedly denied the 17-hour work day, but refused to clarify the wages, saying it was three times more than what women were paid in South Africa. Minimum wages for a domestic worker in SA is R11.27 per hour, compared to the minimum wage in Ireland which is R120.64 per hour. According to the Irish Independent, Dlamini had supplied the department of foreign affairs with a copy of the domestic worker’s contract detailing wages and working hours. She said at no stage did department officials raise concerns about the salary and had approved the visa. Dlamini was surprised by the charge, claiming that the woman had never complained about her working conditions.


Newsline: Foreign embassies instructed not to conduct ‘illegal’ marriage ceremonies in Ireland

Foreign embassies have been instructed by Irish authorities not to conduct marriages on their premises because they will no longer be recognised here. Internal Government briefing material states that marriages of foreign nationals at embassies have been taking place here for some time. It is estimated that as many as 3,000 weddings have taken places in embassies in recent years. However, an internal document prepared for the secretary general of the Department of Social Protection states that while it is legal, in many instances, for foreign embassy marriages to take place under the law of the sending country, such marriages are not legal in Ireland. “Foreign embassies in Ireland have been instructed not to conduct such marriage ceremonies,” it states.


Newsline: Fears of Iran embassy plan revealed in Ireland

Diplomats fretted about allowing Iran to open an embassy in Dublin because of its backing for the IRA as well as Fianna Fail links with high-profile personalities in Iraq, State files reveal. Papers released in the National Archives show Iranian officials in Tehran in 1981 approached Ireland’s Charge d’Affaires in Tehran about the possibility of opening an embassy. Dublin’s Foreign Affairs department was ordered to draw up a report on the possible ramifications. One of the main causes of concern, according to the documents, was Iranian support for the IRA. Iran opened an embassy in Ireland in 1983.


Commentaries: Time for a rethink on diplomatic immunity

Revelations that the gardai are investigating serious allegations of abuse and even domestic ‘slavery’ in some foreign embassies in Dublin again throws light on the protected world of national embassies, and on the antiquated but still very powerful concept of ‘diplomatic immunity’. The revelations, in the Irish Independent, are a very serious discovery by the gardai and files have been sent to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The cases involve foreign ambassadors and lower-level diplomats bringing domestic workers with them from their home countries and keeping them in slave-like conditions here. One woman was brought to look after the children of a diplomat in his private residence. She was promised payment and told she would be able to further her education. But the woman worked a 17-hour day without wages, was not allowed to study, and rarely left the house. Her ordeal lasted three years and she only told gardai of her ordeal after her escape. This is because, for the police to intervene, the countries of the Embassies would have to revoke the diplomatic immunity that their staff, and thus the alleged offenders, operate under. This ancient privilege makes them immune to the law of their host country and is there to allow the embassy operate as a sovereign outpost and thus be immune to the often precarious and oppressive laws of whatever country they are set up in. It is a cornerstone of international diplomacy but it is an outdated concept and has certainly been controversial. It means that someone can get away with murder – and, literally, murder – behind the doors of an embassy or in a senior diplomat’s residence. The latter is where much of the domestic abuse occurs. But immunity also applies to a diplomat, when they are out and about.