If India decides to try Pascal Mazulier, he will claim immunity
The police case against a French diplomat posted in Bangalore for allegedly raping his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter throws up questions of the law of the land and diplomatic immunity.
In a telephone interview with The Hindu, a spokesperson of the French Foreign Office said: “The government of France has been informed of the incident, and we have made contact with local authorities. Since an inquiry is under way, we do not wish to comment at this stage.”
Asked about the nature of diplomatic immunity or privileges enjoyed by Pascal Mazulier, Deputy Head of Chancery at the French Consulate in Bangalore, The Hindu was informed that the accused held a “diplomatic card” issued by the government of India, and it was for the Indian government to ascertain the level of privilege accorded to the cardholder. It is clear that Mr. Mazulier is not a “full-fledged diplomat” in that sense, and there will be a process of “negotiation” with the Indian government on his diplomatic privileges.
Speaking off the record, a senior French diplomat and an Indian diplomat explained that “proper” diplomatic passports were issued at the Third Secretary-level and above. Others working in embassies on junior posts, including domestic staff who work for senior diplomats, have “official” or intermediary passports. Governments recognise these official passports to issue long-term visas, healthcare under local conditions and so on.
Diplomatic passports for persons other than Foreign Ministry personnel are reserved for very senior persons and are given individually — usually to the Secretary or Additional Secretaries and above — except on very special occasions when they are issued at the government's discretion.
“If the person in question — Mr. Muzelier — has a full diplomatic passport, the French government will take it up immediately. Questions arise if the person has an official passport which does not carry full immunity. Obviously, most governments want to protect their own and usually governments want their citizens to be tried in their own countries, and it becomes a football match with both sides fighting it out. So it will depend on the specific situation. The French may decide to make a case for him,” said one of the diplomats.
“Much will depend on whether the government of India will try him. If it does, he will claim immunity. At which point, the French government will be asked if he has full diplomatic immunity and if he does, whether they are waiving it because of the nature of the accusations. In the case of [the former International Monetary Fund chief] Dominique Strauss Kahn, he was denied immunity because what happened between him and Nafisattou Diallo [a hotel housekeeper] lay outside his professional duties for which he was provided immunity. The nature of immunity also depends, in the case of international agencies such as the IMF, on the agreement worked out with the host state.”
‘A domestic passport holder’
Delhi Bureau reports:
The Ministry of External Affairs said: “We understand that Mr. Mazulier is not a diplomatic passport holder but has a service passport. Consequently, the French have thus far not raised the issue of diplomatic immunity.”