Foreign diplomats have been involved in a traffic crime more than 20 times in recent years, the research program reports Argos Wednesday on the basis of figures that were requested via the Public Access to Government Act (WOB).
It concerns a total of 22 traffic offenses between 2016 and 2019. Cases range from drunk driving and red driving to driving after a collision.
Because foreigners with diplomatic status are inviolable, they are not subject to criminal charges. In addition, they are not obliged to participate in a breathalyzer. If the police do deal with an inviolable person themselves, this can have major diplomatic consequences.
If diplomats are involved in a possible criminal offense, the police can report this to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ministry can then issue a final warning or ask the diplomat’s home country to waive the immunity.
The latter happened four times between 2016 and 2019. In two of those cases, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) prosecuted, the other two diplomats who committed the mistake left the Netherlands.
The ministry issued a final warning ten times. Three diplomats voluntarily withdrew. Four others withdrew after a request to that effect from Foreign Affairs. Diplomats who refuse this can be declared a persona non grata, an unwanted person.
Diplomats also involved in other crimes
In addition to traffic offenses, representatives of embassies and international organizations or their family members have also been involved in other offenses at least 20 times in recent years, including a sex crime, embezzlement and domestic violence.
In 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would publish an annual overview of serious incidents and outstanding traffic and parking fines, specified by embassy or international organization. However, that has not happened so far. Instead, a diplomat will now receive a notification letter signed by the minister addressing him or her for the traffic violation and a request for voluntary payment.
Foreign Minister Stef Blok wrote in June in a brief to the House of Representatives that the total number of minor traffic violations by foreign diplomats in the Netherlands has decreased by more than half since the introduction of the new system: from 28,000 between May 2018 and April 2019 to 13,500 between May 2019 and April 2020.