Consular Relations, Privileges, Immunities and Duties of Consulates
The Vienna convention on consular relations is come into action to give effect to enshrine principles of charter of UN concerning maintenance of international peace, promotion of friendly relations etc. by providing special privileges to individuals working in a different country on behalf of their own nation. The objective was building mutual consular relations, successful execution of diplomatic missions or secures interest of foreign nationals.
Diplomat v/s Consulate
- Consulate – building mutual relations, reporting about host countries, issuing visa, acting as notary and civil registrar etc Diplomats represent and negotiate on behalf of their countries and perform functions of diplomatic mission as may be prescribed.
- The establishment of consular relations b/w States take place by mutual consent. The diplomatic mission shall not involve consular relations if not specified.
- Consular Functions – development of economic, culture, commercial relations b/w states, safeguarding interest of nationals while legal proceeding against nationals, helping/assisting in admin works etc.
- The receiving state at any time notifies the sending state that a consular officer or person of staff is persona non grata (not acceptable) and sending state shall recall or terminate functions of that person.
Privileges and Immunities
- The sending state has right to use of its national flag at premises & entrance door of consular post, on residence of head of consular post and on his means of transport of official purpose.
- The receiving state has duty to protect consular premises from any invasion or damage and disturbance to maintain peace at consular post.
- The consular archives/documents shall be inviolable at all times and wherever they may be.
- The receiving shall permit and protect freedom of communication at all part of consular post while communicating with their govt, diplomatic mission and other consular post by appropriate means such as couriers, messages etc to maintain obligation as defined under consular relations by mutual consent.
- The official correspondence (written communication) of consular post shall be inviolable.
- The consular bag shall not be opened or detained. If competent authorities have a suspicion of other documents in bag than official one’s, they may open the bag but only after getting approval from authorities of sending state.
- If any national of sending state is detained or arrested then receiving state has obligation to inform detained person about his right of consular assistance and inform consular officer of sending state without delay if requested by detained person.
- The Consular officer/employees enjoy immunity from all civil, criminal jurisdictions in respect of act performed in exercising their consular functions as defined either by convention on consular relations or mutual consent. But not enjoys immunity for any offence of personal nature and liable for legal proceedings as per law of receiving state.
- The Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial except in case of a grave offence and pursuant to a decision by competent judicial authority (Article 41).
- The personal luggage of consulate and family shall be exempt from inspection except if serious threat of containing articles outside official information or personal use such as import/export article prohibited by law etc (Article 50).
- The receiving state shall exempt consular officer from all kind of public/private services and from military obligations as well.
Duties and Functions of Consular Officer
- The all persons who enjoy privileges and immunities have duty to respect laws and regulations of receiving state. Also premises of mission shall be used for defined functions only.
- The Consular officer/employee liable to give evidences in offences of personal nature but not obligated to give evidences for act performed while exercising their functions.
- The Consular officer/staff shall not practice any professional activity for personal profit.