Saudi diplomat case: What Indian govt can do to get Nepali women justice

India is in a tricky situation between Saudi Arabia and Nepal.
Saudi diplomat case: What Indian govt can do to get Nepali women justice
Saudi diplomat case: What Indian govt can do to get Nepali women justice
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Days after the Gurgaon police filed an FIR against a diplomat working in the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi, who has been accused of raping and torturing two Nepali women, India seems to be stuck in a rather tricky situation between Saudi Arabia and Nepal, two countries it shares cordial relationships with. While Saudi Arabia continues to deny all allegations against its official, Nepal has asked India to expedite the probe. 

Since the accused has claimed diplomatic immunity, the police cannot arrest or detain him. However, the charges against him and his family members are of serious nature and the Indian government is facing pressure from several quarters to get the diplomat’s immunity revoked.  

Meanwhile, the diplomat, along with his family, has reportedly shifted to the Saudi Embassy. 

What next?

On Thursday, Jaideep Mazumdar, chief of protocol, MEA, called Saudi ambassador Saud Mohammed Al Sati asking for the co-operation of the embassy in the probe by the Gurgaon police. 

The medical examination of the women, who had been hired as domestic helps, has confirmed rape and sexual assault. The findings of two reports showed that “the women have been so grievously tortured that it will take years to recover”, The Indian Express quotes an official in the Gurgaon civil hospital as saying.

“There is prima facie evidence of abuse, sodomy and rape by the diplomat and his father-in-law,” a senior official handling the case told The Hindu, adding that case could “escalate if allowed to linger.”

According to the Vienna Convention, emissaries are of the following three kinds according to three types of assignments- embassy, consular, and international organisation. Diplomats posted in an Embassy get immunity, along with his or her family members. Those posted in the consulates also get immunity, but not for serious crimes, according to the Vienna convention on Consular Relations.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the immunity a diplomat enjoys in the state he/she is posted in is "inviolable". This includes not being liable to any form of arrest or detention. His/her private residence too enjoys the same inviolability and protection as the embassy.

The Saudi Embassy had questioned the Gurgaon police's move of raiding the diplomat's house, which they said, was in violation of the rules of the Convention, reported The Indian Express.

Option one

The host country, in this case Saudi Arabia, can waive the accused's immunity, which can be done in cases of a serious crimes not related to their diplomatic role. But such a scenario is said to be highly unlikely. “Despite the terrible nature of the crime, unless the Saudi Arabian government waives it, the immunity will protect them completely," an official had told The Hindu earlier. 

Option two

The official can also be prosecuted in his home country. This could be seen as a viable alternative for Saudi Arabia since they can probe the case under their own laws.

A report in The Hindu states that the government could next declare him persona non grata and withdraw his diplomatic accreditation. "This would effectively revoke his visa and protection to his family, and force the Saudi government to repatriate the diplomat or allow him to be expelled from the country."

The case

The two Nepali women have returned to Nepal to give their statements to the Nepali police.

Meanwhile the Gurgaon police have collected CCTV footage from the diplomat’s residence.

The victims had been lured to Delhi with the promise of well-paid jobs and then allegedly sold to the Saudi diplomat, who is the First Secretary at the embassy, states a report by The Hindu

In their statement, the women alleged that they had been held captive by the diplomat and his family for a period of over three months during which they had been continuously assaulted, raped and even forced to perform "unnatural sex" for the official and other Saudi nationals, sometimes even at knife-point. They had also been taken to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia for a few days during this period. 

Another woman who had reportedly been sold to the diplomat, but managed to escape, complained to an NGO called Maiti Nepal India. The NGO in turn contacted the Gurgaon police. Following a request from the Nepal Embassy, the Gurgaon police on Monday raided the apartment of the diplomat and rescued the two women.

But the Saudi embassy, dismissing the charges as “completely false” and "contrary to facts in our possession", said they would wait for the Indian government to clarify the matter as per diplomatic norms.

A Saudi embassy official also disapproved of the way police was damaging a person and a country's reputation on the basis of mere charges made by a third person and said it was violative of the rights of the diplomat and his family. 

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