The New York aministration, as well as the aministration of any other major city, has enough problems, while the majority of them has to do with the lack of money.
The New York mayor, Michel Bloomberg, many times suggested different ways of solving this problem, including the privatization of city bridges. However, one more way to “earn” money was found: the city's administration decided to reach into the pockets of foreign diplomats.
On Thursday, Michel Bloomberg said that, starting Friday, the cars of diplomats who violate traffic rules will be towed, despite their diplomatic immunity.
The State Department supports the New York mayor's initiative. Deputy official of the State Department Philip Ricker said that diplomats working in New York, consulate workers, and representatives of foreign states to the UN are obliged to pay fines for incorrect parking like everyone else.
According to the statement, foreign diplomats owe 22 million dollars to the city. The most active infringers are diplomats from China, Nigeria, Brazil, Greece, Egypt, Kuwait, and Pakistan.
It is interesting that the State Department, while expecting a possible scandal, proposed to the New York authorities to secure special parking places for diplomats, as was done in Washington. However, according to Ricker, the New York authorities did not accept this proposition.
Of course, traffic fines should be paid. However, this could cause further violations of diplomatic immunity for small reasons.
In the meanwhile, US diplomats often use their diplomatic immunity. In 1999, the US consul general to Vladivostok, Douglas Kent, while driving his car, caused an accident, as a result of which 23-year-old Alexandr Kashin became disabled. Kent paid only for Alexandr’s two-month stay in a sanatorium. Now, Alexandr is trying to obtain justice through the American courts.
Kent was rescued thanks to his diplomatic immunity. And now the New York authorities are attacking the diplomatic immunity of foreign diplomats. However, this probably will help other states demand that US diplomats follow local laws. In other words, they can do the same thing that Bloomberg is doing.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/09/45471.html