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Exemption from Giving Evidence

From: Diplomatic Law: Commentary on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (4th Edition)

Eileen Denza

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 September 2023

Diplomatic immunity — Diplomatic missions — Diplomatic relations — Witnesses

This chapter considers Article 31.2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which states that a diplomatic agent is not obliged to give evidence as a witness during trial. Under customary international law a diplomat was immune from compulsion in regard to appearing or giving evidence as a witness but was probably not exempt from the legal obligation to do so if requested in proper terms. It should be noted that the exemption from the duty to give evidence is not limited by the exceptions to immunity from jurisdiction set out in Article 31.1(a), (b), and (c). It was emphasized that a diplomatic agent involved for whatever reason as plaintiff or as defendant in legal proceedings would always have a strong incentive to give evidence in order to win his case, but that the decision whether to permit him to do so should remain with the sending State.

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