US says Davis has diplomatic immunity, asks Pak to release him

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 24 (PTI) Notwithstanding Pakistan''s standthat courts will decide the fate of an American arrested fordouble murder, the US has insisted that he enjoys diplomaticimmunity under the Vienna Convention and asked Islamabad tohonour the international treaty and release him immediately.

"We believe that the principle that every country in theworld that participates in the Vienna Convention on diplomaticrelations has a responsibility to honour the provisions ofthat treaty. And that''s our starting point in dealing withthis issue" of Raymond Davis, who was arrested in Lahore lastmonth, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"We continue to be focused on a resolution that resultsin Pakistan honouring the diplomatic immunity status of theindividual and his return home," he said at his daily newsbriefing last evening.

His remarks came despite Pakistani leaders'' assertionthat Davis'' case would be decided by the country''s courts.

In Islamabad, diplomatic sources said that the US hasinformed Pakistan that Davis has diplomatic immunity under theVienna Convention and Pakistani courts do not have thejurisdiction to hear his case.

Davis could not be arrested by Pakistani authorities ortried by any Pakistani court, the sources said, adding he wasnotified as a member of the administrative and technical staffof the US embassy in Islamabad on January 20 and, therefore,had diplomatic immunity.

They insisted that the administrative and technical staffof a foreign mission enjoy global privileges and immunitiesunder the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

"We still believe that Davis is member of theadministrative and technical staff of US embassy in Islamabadand is entitled to full immunity from criminal prosecution andshould not be arrested or detained," said a source.

Since Davis enjoys immunity, the matter should not havegone to the Pakistani courts at all, the sources said.

On the jurisdiction of Pakistani courts in deciding thediplomatic immunity issue, they contended the country''s courtsdo not have jurisdiction to take up such matters. One way outof the imbroglio would be for Davis to be declared "personanon-grata" and expelled from Pakistan, they said.

Pakistan and the US are both signatories to theVienna convention, along with 185 other countries, andWashington is hopeful that Islamabad will abide by the treatyon the issue of Davis, the sources said.

If there is a dispute on implementing the articles ofthe Vienna Convention, the matter can be taken to theInternational Court of Justice.

Referring to the issue of a diplomatic passport anda diplomatic visa being necessary for a person to be granteddiplomatic immunity, the sources clarified that there is noneed to possess these official documents.

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