Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Amendment Bill: deliberation

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International Relations

03 October 2001
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Meeting report

FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 October 2001
DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITIES AND PRIVILEGES AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim

Documents handed out:
Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Amendment Bill [B40-2001]
Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Amendment Bill [B40B-2001]

SUMMARY
The Committee considered the re-draft of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Amendment Bill and continued their discussion of issues raised by Committee members at the previous meeting.

MINUTES
Ms De Wet, principal state law adviser, said the Bill had been amended according to the concerns, views and issues raised by Committee members during the last meeting.

Ms De Wet stated that the Amended Bill was merely a consolidated version of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Amendment Bill. Any clause which Members raised concerns about, had been amended.

Ms De Wet then proceeded to take the Committee through the Bill, referring to the amended clauses.

No changes had been made to the introduction of the Bill.

Clause 1
In Clause 1 of the Bill, definitions clause, the following have been changed. In Clause 1(iii) the definition of "municipality" has been amended and defined in terms of the Local Government Municipal Structures Act, 117 of 1998. In Clause 1(iv) the definition of "organisation" has been incorporated. The term "the conventions" has been defined and incorporated into the Bill in Clause 1(x). In Clause 1(xiii) the term "this Act" had been amended to include the words "includes the regulations".

Clause 2
With regard to Clause 2(b) of the Bill, dealing with Conventions having the force of law, Ms De Wet said that the term "member of a family" had been amended and redefined in terms of South African law. The most commonly used criteria in South African family law related to the criteria of dependency. Thus, the amended version of the term "member of a family" had been tailored to suit South African law.

Clauses 3,4,5
The purpose of the inclusion of Clause 3 was merely based on the restructuring and consolidation of the Bill. With regard to Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill, Ms De Wet advised that although these Clauses had been reflected in the Amendment Bill, it was not legislated on in terms of the present Act and hence the qualifying of Clauses 4 and 5.

Clauses 7,8,9,10
In Clauses 7, 8 and 9 no deletions, additions or amendments had been made and these Clauses remained unchanged. The same applied to Clause 10 of the Bill.

Clause 11
As regards Clause 11 of the Bill, Ms De Wet advised that the words "…out of funds provided by Parliament for that purpose" be amended to the words "out of funds approved by Parliament". Ms De Wet notified the Committee that this would be reflected in the final draft of the Bill.

Clauses 12,13,14,15,16,17
In terms of Clauses 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, Ms De Wet stated that no further amendments had been made except for the fact that Clause 16 required insertion. Clause 17, as stated by Ms De Wet, also remained unchanged.

Discussion
Mr Eglin (DP) raised an issue surrounding the immunity and extent thereof in both criminal and civil matters. He posed the question, that if for example, an official of the United States rapes and assaults a woman, can this person still be charged both criminally and civilly if they request immunity? Is there a mechanism to veto immunity?

Ms De Wet responded that there are provisions in the Act as well as the Conventions governing the behaviour of foreign persons. In addition, provision is made for liability insurance. If, however, a situation arises where the State refuses immunity, a person could then be declared persona non-gratia.

Mr N Clelland (DP) referred the Committee members to Clause 15(1) and in particular the words "…sues out" and asked the general meaning and understanding thereof. Mr G Hoon, state law adviser, explained that the implication of these words was the same as "to sue a party". Nonetheless, these words would be redrafted to be understood by the ordinary person.

Ms F Mahomed (ANC) in referring to Clause 9(1) of the Bill asked Ms De Wet and Mr G. Hoon to explain the term "…cause a register to be kept". Instead, may the words "…must keep a register" be used for the sake of clarity and understanding?

Both Ms De Wet and Mr G. Hoon agreed with Ms Mahomed 's suggestion and stated that it would be amended in the finalised Bill.

Mr Eglin (DP) referred to Clause 13 of the Bill, asking why liability insurance had been restricted to motor vehicles, vessels and aircrafts of the Republic, exclusively. According to his view, it fails to include public policy. Ms M Barnard, Director - Protocol (Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges) stated that this was a valid point which needed to be taken under review and advisement of the State Law Advisers.

Ms De Wet suggested that the words "motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft of the Republic" be excluded from the Bill. The Committee was in agreement.

To summarise, the following Clauses would be redrafted, namely:
Clause 11
Clause 12 (containing a spelling error)
Clause 13
Clause 15
Clause 6(a) (containing a spelling error)

The Chair requested that the Bill be redrafted after which it is to be placed before the various other Committees for confirmation.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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