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DSK Denied Diplomatic Immunity in Civil Suit

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has lost his latest attempt to rid himself of all pending U.S. litigation. A New York judge has denied DSK diplomatic immunity in a civil suit brought by the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault in May 2011.

The judge refused to dismiss the suit, finding that the organization head was not in New York on official business at the time. The suit was also filed months after he resigned from his post.

Does this decision have you wondering about the law of diplomatic immunity? Let's take a look.

The Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978 forms the basis of diplomatic immunity in the United States. It is based on the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, an international treaty that grants diplomatic agents of participating countries immunity from civil and criminal suits.

The U.S. also extends some diplomatic immunity to the personnel of international organizations via the International Organizations Immunities Act. If granted, DSK's diplomatic immunity would have been based on this law.

In the U.S., the amount of immunity a diplomat gets depends on their job description. Actual diplomats, such as ambassadors, receive the most protection. Consulate employees only receive immunity in connection with the official duties.

Diplomatic immunity, however, is not an invitation to break a host country's laws. Countries have, and will, waive immunity on a diplomat's behalf if they engage in egregious behavior in the host country. The host country can also rescind visas and expel a diplomat from the country.

As of now, there is no need to do this with DSK. Diplomatic immunity was denied, and unless he has a successful appeal, he will have to defend the maid's civil lawsuit.

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