ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday reserved order on a petition seeking the placement of a US diplomat allegedly involved in the killing of a youth in a traffic accident on the Exit Control List (ECL).
On April 7, Col Joseph Emanuel Hall jumped a red light at Daman-i-Koh Chowk and hit a motorcycle. As a result, two riders of the bike suffered injuries and one of them later died.
Mohammad Idrees, father of the deceased, has filed the petition through his counsel Shahzad Akbar.CCTV footage of the Safe City Project shows the diplomat driving a white land cruiser at a high speed and hitting the motorcycle after violating the red signal.
In his concluding arguments on Monday, the counsel argued before Justice Aamer Farooq that “absolute immunity of diplomats may defeat citizens’ trust in the justice system.”
He said if rights of citizens are not upheld and an innocent person is deprived of their life a chaotic situation arises in which citizens will have no trust in the criminal justice system.
Youth died after Col Joseph Emanuel Hall jumped red light at Daman-i-Koh Chowk and hit his motorcycle on April 7
“Where there is no such trust in any given society, the criminal justice system becomes inadequate.”
The counsel contended that under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, there was a diplomatic ‘immunity’ not ‘impunity.’
Under the convention, he said, diplomats and their families had immunity from receiving state’s civil and administrative jurisdiction but the principle of ‘diplomatic immunity’ cannot signify impunity in the sense that diplomats may be placed above the law of the state.
He said the treaty had to be interpreted in good faith and the principle of diplomatic immunity was not to be used for benefit of individuals.
He said the aim and object of the treaty stated that the purpose of such privileges and immunities was not to benefit individuals but to ensure efficient performance of diplomatic missions as representing states.
He said a bar from ‘criminal jurisdiction’ does not include investigation as there was no bar from investigation.
He said a bar on prosecution was only procedural under the Diplomatic Immunities and Consular Privileges Act 1972.
Mr Akbar said immunity cannot be construed to be absolute as it not only violated several fundamental rights of the citizens but was also in violation of the true spirit of the convention.
In addition, the convention should be interpreted in a way that it does not threaten human rights of any individual.
Diplomatic immunity is not intended to serve as a licence for persons to flout the law and purposely avoid liability for their actions.
Frequently, he added, immunity was understood to mean pardon, total exoneration or total release from the responsibility to comply with the law.
On April 24, the interior ministry had informed the court that in order to restrict the movement of Col Hall, his name had been placed on the blacklist of the directorate of immigration.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2018