Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wikileaks in Vienna

Soviet Embassy Fire, January 1, 1956
The embassy was destroyed. Besides illustrating the tensions of the Cold War, for many people in Ottawa it was a lesson in the extra-territorial rights of embassies and their staff. The land that embassies are located on is technically considered the territory of that country. The only way the fire department could have forced their way in that night was if the fire posed a specific risk to Canadian life and property. Laws remain the same today.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Done at Vienna on 18 April 1961

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

Article 22 confirms the inviolability of mission premises – barring any right of entry by law enforcement officers of the receiving State and imposing on the receiving State a special duty to protect the premises against intrusion, damage, disturbance of the peace or infringement of dignity. Even in response to abuse of this inviolability or emergency, the premises may not be entered without the consent of the head of mission. Article 24 ensures the inviolability of mission archives and documents – even outside mission premises – so that the receiving State may not seize or inspect them or permit their use in legal proceedings.

The United Kingdom signed the Convention in 1961.  Nothing in the subsequent declarations and reservations or objections on record from the UK has anything to do with Article 22.

Meanwhile, back at the Embassy....

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange
ABC Australia "4 Corners"