WASHINGTON (AP) Countries whose diplomats fail to pay their parking tickets could lose part of their foreign aid under a measure approved by the Senate Tuesday.
"If a diplomat ignores a parking ticket, we send him foreign aid. That makes no sense," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment to a foreign aid spending bill with fellow New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The amendment, approved by a voice vote, would reduce a country's foreign aid package by whatever that country owes in unpaid tickets, plus an additional 10 percent penalty. The measure would apply to tickets and fines incurred in New York City and Washington, D.C., in the period from April 1, 1997, to Sept. 30, 2003.
Many embassies reside in Washington, and New York is home to the United Nations.
The provision would help New York City recover up to $21 million owed for 186,000 unpaid tickets, according to Schumer's office. The secretary of state can waive the penalties if it is in the national interest.
Schumer's office said that among the major offenders are Egypt, which owes nearly $2 million from 17,825 tickets; Kuwait, which owes $1.2 million from 11,122 violations; and Nigeria, in arrears almost $1 million from 8,520 violations.
Among others with a big backlog of unpaid tickets are Indonesia, Morocco, Brazil, Pakistan, Senegal, Angola and Sudan. Of these, only Kuwait owes more in tickets than it receives in foreign aid.
A breakdown in diplomatic parking infractions in Washington was not immediately available.
Last year, after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to tow illegally parked consular vehicles, the State Department and the city reached a deal under which diplomats agreed to pay about 60 percent of their outstanding tickets. Schumer said that while this was progress, more than $21 million was still owed.
The foreign aid bill still has to be reconciled with a similar House bill before going to the president.
Pretty funny in a pathetic sort of way. I mean, Egypt has 17,000+ unpaid parking violations? The sad thing is a citizen of these countries would be required to pay for their parking tickets or else face warrants in the US, but the diplomats are able to get away with it. Of course, this brings up the bigger subject of whether or not diplomats should be subject the American justice system.
Zak From Greenland, joined Sep 2003, 1993 posts, RR: 8 Reply 3, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 1379 times:
"Of course, this brings up the bigger subject of whether or not diplomats should be subject the American justice system"
yeah this is just as strange as some californian judge deciding something that happened somewhere in malaysia was subject to american jurisdiction because it affected american interests(forgot what it was), yet the usa blockade the ICJ. talk about double standarts and hypocrisy
Banco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54 Reply 6, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 1351 times:
This isn't something that just happens in Washington and New York you know. This is a problem in many capitals around the world. In London the same thing crops up from time to time, and it is usually the same countries that do it. Yes, diplomatic immunity means that they do not have to pay fines, but it isn't very diplomatic to refuse to do it! Most countries have a policy whereby embassy staff are responsible for any fines they incur, and if they claim immunity, then that immunity is quickly removed from them by their government and they have to pay.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
707cmf From France, joined Mar 2002, 4885 posts, RR: 31 Reply 7, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1345 times:
Last I heard, the cars themselves are not diplomats. Tow them away.
Last I heard, an Embassy building, though not a diplomat in itself, was considered as part of the territory of the diplomat's nation. And from what I know, this extra-territoriality extends to diplomatic vehicles wearing diplomatic plates. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 8, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1345 times:
I guess, there is no point to start diplomatic quarrels about it. This "phenomenon" is well known in Berlin, too, and we are talking about millions of Euro...members of certain (not to be mentioned publicly, of course ) embassies are downright notorious for 1. disregarding ANY traffic regulations to be found in Germany and 2. never paying ANY tickets. Some of them are even notorious for doing this at will, that is, park in the middle of the road even though there is vacant parking space.
Up to now, Germany choses NOT to press any charges, probably to keep diplomatic peace, but it does hurt the sense of justice of every law-abiding citizen to watch these people abuse diplomatic immunity.
Best solution would be: Confiscate the cars, give them back AFTER the tickets are paid, if not, sell the cars, pay the tickets and hand over the amount not needed for that. If the sales amount is too low: wait until they buy their next car, and do the same.
As for diplomatic immunity: Ok, they won't get those infamous points in Flensburg, and their driver's licenses can't be revoked. But, as some of these people are also well-known for being extremely reckless drivers, too, they should be declared "persona non grata" whenever they cause an accident with damage to persons.
btw Banco: Do I remember correctly, that some weeks ago, in a thread about New York Hotels, you recommended the Bentley??
Banco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54 Reply 9, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 1335 times:
No email Andreas? Damn.
Recommended might be too strong a term, I did stay there. It's an unusual hotel. The decor is great, the bar on the roof is terrific, the rooms are big, the views of the Queensboro Bridge are good, but it did look as though they'd forgotten a couple of things. Like for example there's a cupboard for the minibar, but no minibar. Now, if there was never going to be a minibar, no problem, but to have a hole where there clearly was meant to be one...? The location is pretty good though. I think you can have a look at it on the net.
Back to the topic, the policy in the UK has always been to name and shame the culprits. There is absolutely nothing you can do to force them to cough up, so what happens is that periodically a list is published of all those countries who haven't paid. Occasionally with serious offenders the government have threatened to declare them persona non grata if they don't cough up.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
Andreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 33 Reply 10, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 1332 times:
Yep that's why I'm asking...www is good but to ask someone who was there is better. I'm planning to stay there for a week, and the prices on expedia etc. are pretty good, and I like big clean rooms, big beds and a nice view from the window, good location, as I love to walk around NYC, and they give complimentary breakfasts and espresso during the whole day, so who needs a minibar...?
Back to topic: Yep, that would be a first step in Germany, too. Just put their names, cars, and possibly pics in all the big tabloids (no, not the serious press!!!), on a monthly basis, at least it would make life a bit uneasier for them. I still like the idea of selling their cars, though...
QANTASFOREVER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 11, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 1309 times:
Last I heard, an Embassy building, though not a diplomat in itself, was considered as part of the territory of the diplomat's nation.
True, and unlike normal visitors to a foreign country, diplomatic staff are only subject to the laws of their home country unless exceptional circumstances occur (e.g: if an ambassador killed a head of state).
Name and shame em - making these diplomatic staff subject to local laws internationally could see a disruption of diplomatic work.
Too hard to enforce anyway. As the embassies/consulates are their home country's sovereign territory, local authorities would have no juristiction to apprehend criminals within their walls.
Banco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54 Reply 12, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 1307 times:
Yes, but the point here, Qantasforever, is not what they do behind the walls of an embassy, but what they do out in the city itself. Although diplomats do have diplomatic immunity, most countries waive that immunity if they break the laws of the host country. For example, if a British diplomat committed a serious crime in Australia, do you seriously think that if that diplomat claimed immunity, the British government would not then waive that immunity? The same applies with something like parking fines. Yet there remain some countries that refuse to do so, as is their right. The trouble is that some individuals then regard it as carte blanche to ignore local regulations, which was never the intention behind immunity anyway.
It is hardly condusive to good relations to have embassy staff behaving this way. It irritates the hell out of the host country, and dressings down to the ambassadors concerned tend to be the outcome.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
Alpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 13, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 1272 times:
I'm sure our diplomats have racked up a few million in unpaid parking fines around the world
Diplomats have been doing this since the horse-drawn carriage, I imagine, and it's not a big deal, unless someone wants to stir up anti-foreigner feeling. We've had enough of that this year. And while it is bad form for diplomats anywhere to be doing it, in the grand scheme, it's a minor thing, is it not?
We need to work more on what can unite us, not what can divide us.
Jaysit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 14, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1272 times:
The issue of foreign immunity was addressed in DC a few years ago when a drunk diplomat careened his car into a young woman and killed her. Her mother lobbied Congress and the DC government to indict the diplomat and bring him to trial. In any case, the controversy lasted for several years, and I believe the Diplo faced trial and incarceration here.
The issue of parking violations and fines is an old issue here in DC. These folks should pay up.
QANTASFOREVER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 15, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1202 times:
Although diplomats do have diplomatic immunity, most countries waive that immunity if they break the laws of the host country.
Of course. If I was a country and my diplomats were off speeding through traffic lights in other countries (as it is a crime in my country) I'd hand them over to local authorities.
For example, if a British diplomat committed a serious crime in Australia, do you seriously think that if that diplomat claimed immunity, the British government would not then waive that immunity?
What I'm essentially saying is - that if a diplomat committs a crime in the host country - if that person goes into the diplomatic post then local authorities have no power to act as a diplomatic post is the sovereign territory of it's parent nation. However, when that diplomat takes a step outside the embassy/consul zone - local police have greater power to act.
Diplomatic immunity only goes so far. With Australian embassies and consuls, there is a strict code of conduct for all Diplomatic staff and attache's to follow. It's not uncommon for severe disciplinary action to take place within the Australian government in retaliation for a local offence.
The trouble is that some individuals then regard it as carte blanche to ignore local regulations, which was never the intention behind immunity anyway.
Completely agree. Diplomatic staff have a duty to conform to the highest standards of behavior at all time. After all - bad behaviour not only reflects badly on them, but also on their home nation.
It irritates the hell out of the host country, and dressings down to the ambassadors concerned tend to be the outcome.
Hey - if a host nation feels so sore about it, the head of state can refuse to accept the credentials of an appointed diplomat and send them out of the country. Remember - host nations do have great measure of control over internal affairs - even in the sphere of representational diplomacy.
Yyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16110 posts, RR: 57 Reply 16, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 1173 times:
If I was a country and my diplomats were off speeding through traffic lights in other countries (as it is a crime in my country) I'd hand them over to local authorities.
Most of the above serious offender countries (in parking fines) are brutal dictatorships run by a small elite circle. The diplomats sent to the US are part of that ruling clique. They could not care less about parking tickets.
Why is Bloomberg "threatening" to tow the cars? He should just tow them.
Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.