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Image courtesy of Sky News
On the 27 September 19-year-old Harry Dunn was involved in a motorbike accident which ended his life. Anne Sacoolas, who was visiting the UK from the US, is believed to have been driving the car which crashed into Harry’s motorbike. As a suspect, one would expect her to undergo a legal trial in order to face the consequences of her actions. However, this is not the case. Just because of one factor, she is a US diplomat’s wife. This allowed her to leave the country without arrest or being put into custody.
But why should this make a difference? Is it fair that those in high authority can just bypass the legal system without fear of arrest and a legal trial?
Mrs Sacoolas left the country soon after the accident took place. Diplomatic immunity gives the right for diplomats and their families to be exempt from prosecution in the country where they are working. As the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 states, ‘The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving state shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.’ Therefore, they cannot be arrested like an ordinary citizen when they are suspected of having committed a crime.
Our justice system is in place to protect society and ensure that those who have broken the law be put on a fair trial. These immunity laws are going against just that. Mrs Sacoolas is a suspect in the death of a British teenager. If a Briton was a suspect, we would expect them to be arrested and potentially face trial, so why is Mrs Sacoolas any different?
It shouldn’t be one rule for many and then another rule for some. In a world where greater equality is something we strive for in mainstream society, this is a step back in the wrong direction.
Mrs Sacoolas has made the situation worse by refusing to come back to the UK, resulting in Harry’s grieving parents making the trip to Washington DC. Though Harry’s mum said that the US president’s condolences seemed sincere when they met at the White House, they felt ambushed after being told that Mrs Sacoolas was next door. These were not on the terms that Harry’s parents wished to meet her as they felt that without mediators the encounter would not be successful. The meeting could have been handled much better, with the right people in place to ensure Harry’s parents got the answers and closure they desperately need.
Justice needs to be served and Mrs Sacoolas should be brought back to the UK for questioning, like any other person involved in a crash.
Further information surfaced last week surfaced indicating that information about the accident was asked to be withheld from Harry’s parents by the government, giving the suspect plenty of time to leave the UK. If this is the case, then there has been misconduct from both the US and the UK. The UK allowed the suspect to leave the country and the US allowed her to avoid a trial.
If society can ever be equal, then we must treat everyone under the same set of rules. Status and wealth should not allow anyone to be exempt from the law. Harry’s parents need to have justice for their son. It is only fair that Anne Sacoolas is investigated like anybody else, otherwise how do we expect everyone else to follow rules that are supposed to protect them?