US diplomat's wife kills UK teenager, claims diplomatic immunity

This getting any airplay in the US? Because it’s even knocked Brexit off the national news here. Chief Constable of Police demands suspect’s return to the UK (BBC Link)

Reports say she was driving for some distance on the wrong side of the road. The victim came over the brow of a hill and so had no opportunity to avoid her car.

So, she has claimed diplomatic immunity and scuttled off home, which of course she can. But should the US do something? Send her back? Prosecute her at home? Give compensation to the victim’s family? Stick two fingers up to them?

For reference, sentencing guidelines for causing death by dangerous driving (and I’m no lawyer), are:

Generally, as I understand it, the US doesn’t waive immunity even in clear-cut cases like this, as a matter of principle. So odds are slim she’ll be extradited.

I doubt she’ll be extradited but she deserves to be labelled as a cowardly shit for not even helping the police and the family with the enquiry.

Yes, yes it is. I’ve been hearing about this for days on both TV and radio news. Oddly, does not seem reflect in the print press, at least not on page one.

I usually hear about this from the other side: a foreign diplomat killing or raping someone in the US. Now, I in no way endorse or excuse any of this, but generally what happened is exactly what occurred here - the offender zips off back home and the victim(s)/heirs get nothing and no justice. Apparently, this is the norm world wide. Here’s a short list of various offense perpetrated by diplomats from several different nations. Here is a somewhat longer list in Wikipedia

I note that the parents of the deceased have attempted to appeal to President Trump, and I’d love to be proved wrong on this, but Trump doesn’t give a {deleted} about anyone but himself and has a legendary distrust and contempt for foreigners. I think he’s more likely to further shield the woman than to turn her over to British authorities.

It is my understanding that a person can not voluntary waive immunity for themselves so it’s not so much she is claiming immunity as the US is asserting immunity for her.

In fact, she did initially cooperate with British authorities, answered questions, attending a meeting with them, and so forth as reported in UK media - it looks like Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson is the original source of those statements. It may be that the woman in question wanted to stay in the UK and help with the inquiry but the US decided to bring her home. Characterizing her as a “cowardly shit” is an understandable emotional reaction but in this case may be in error. It appears that initially she did do what both of us consider the right thing - cooperate with police - but the US government overruled that impulse. Which, again, is usually what happens world-wide in such circumstances.

I have a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Dunn’s parents and family, but given past history I don’t hold out much hope for them bringing the woman back to the UK to face an inquiry and/or penalty.

It’s horrific, but what are you going to do? The treaties that prevent this woman from paying for her crime are the same treaties that prevent the Saudis from arresting her for going outdoors without a male escort. It’s a deeply imperfect system, but it’s better than the alternative.

Well if her moral character is as it should be I assume that she’ll be seeking to return to the UK as a private citizen as soon as possible and help the police with their enquiries.

I don’t think you understand - it is not her decision. As a diplomat’s wife it is the US government that decides whether or not she has diplomatic immunity, not her. ONLY if the US government waives immunity can do do what you suggest. If the US government doesn’t waive immunity it is not her choice and “as soon as possible” will be never regardless of how much she may or may not want to cooperate.

Would she be prevented from cooperating remotely (email, video call, etc.)?

In incidents like this (agreed crime in both friendly countries) the immunity is commonly removed or the person is tried in a foreign court but serves (and sometimes not serves) in their jurisdiction.

So the USA will prevent her from travelling to the UK as a private citizen?

The people of NYC deal with this and worse all the time. Save your outrage for the diplomatic system that allows it.

It is my understanding that the US government could, indeed, forbid that.

If she’s the family member of a diplomat my (perhaps flawed) understanding is that yes, the US government could do that. Having a diplomat’s family member tried in a foreign court against the wishes of the US is not a precedent the US wants to have set. (To be fair, no nation wants that precedent set, that’s the whole point behind diplomatic immunity in the first place). All the US government has to do is mutter about “national security” or “national interests” and all hands are tied.

Now - will the US government do that? No way to know. Prior administrations might have waive immunity in such a case where the guilty party wants to cooperate with foreign law enforcement but it’s always the government’s call. Doing so has some precedent, but requires both governments to agree with waiver of immunity prior to any legal investigation or proceedings to go forward.

With the current administration? Who the hell knows? My gut feeling is that no, immunity will not be waived in this or any other case while we have hyper-nationalists in charge.

I’m sorry - a young man has died, I don’t think his family is going to get any sort of closure, and it’s a double shame in that the woman in question seemed willing to cooperate with the Northhampshire police. Then the US government got involved and recalled her back to the US.

LOL. Hyper-nationalists? Nation States rarely waive immunity. And if we had a full accounting of the swept under the rug crimes and misdemeanors committed by UK diplomats and family in the USA the outrage would dissipate quickly.

The UK is simply deflecting attention away from their Brexit nightmare.

She’s not the diplomat though and she’s not on official business. Is she now not free to leave the country?

While criminal, none of those examples are crimes resulting in death.

What nonsense. Reverse the events in terms of nationality and location and my outrage would be no less. In fact it would probably be even more. A serious crime such as this should not protected by diplomatic immunity.

The US Government can certainly place a hold upon just about anyone and prevent them from leaving the country legally.

Waving immunity sets what would undoubtedly be a very uncomfortable precedent because a decision like that is purely subjective. “When”, “what”, and “how bad” become blurry lines. It also leaves open the possibility of foul play. For example, you are a diplomat in my country and, for some reason, I want to punish you or the nation you represent, I could simply trump up charges and demand to put you on trial. I don’t see how any diplomat could ever feel safe or protected again.

Enquiries? Is there any question about what happened?

To my understanding, it doesn’t matter. As a matter of both US and UK law, her irresponsible actions are covered by immunity regardless of whether she travels back to the UK on her own. Since the UK is a party to the treaty that says she can’t be prosecuted for her actions, what exactly do you expect the UK to do if she did return? Violate its own laws in order to prosecute her?

For the record, I think in a case of such a serious matter occurring in a country with a fair and respectable legal system, I think the US ought to waive immunity in this case.