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Are foreign officials abusing their diplomatic immunity?

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By Chris Harris
Are foreign officials abusing their diplomatic immunity?

<p>​Diplomatic vehicles were responsible for 23,403 motoring offences in Berlin last year, <a href="http://www.rbb-online.de/panorama/beitrag/2015/02/zahl-der-verkehrssuender-mit-diplomatenpass-nimmt-zu.html">according to a German MP</a>.</p> <p>Excessive speed, parking offences and even hit-and-runs were among the infractions recorded between January and November 2014, revealed <span class="caps">CDU</span> politician Frank Henkel.</p> <p>He also indicated diplomatic vehicles were involved in 49 accidents, resulting in 20 people being injured, two seriously.</p> <p>Germany’s interior ministry has calculated if the infractions had been pursued, authorities would have raked in 403,275 euros.</p> <p>Russia and Saudi Arabia officials were the worst offenders, according to the MP.</p> <p>Foreign officials in Germany – and across the world – escape prosecution under diplomatic immunity rules, agreed in Vienna in the 1960s.</p> <p>They are intended to allow foreign diplomats to carry out their work with freedom, independence and security.</p> <p>But Berlin’s case, and that of London’s, raises questions about whether diplomatic immunity is being abused.</p> <p>In a report to the UK parliament, Mark Simmonds, an official for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/parking-fines-incurred-by-diplomatic-missions-and-international-organisations-in-the-uk--2">revealed diplomatic missions in London owed the city’s transport authority around 100 million euros</a>.</p> <p>The figures, which cover the period 2003-2013, are for parking fines and debts related to non-payment of London’s congestion charge.</p> <p>The US, with 70,637 fines costing more than 9.3m euros, was the worst offender, followed by Japan and Russia.</p>