Double Jeopardy: Domestic Workers in Diplomatic Households and Jurisdictional Immunities
44 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2015 Last revised: 13 Nov 2016
Date Written: June 4, 2016
The scope of diplomatic immunity and the claims by domestic workers in diplomatic households have been the subject of a series of cases in the US and UK courts in recent years. Parallel to these developments is a related but distinct body of case-law on the immunities of states, and possible exceptions that may arise to immunity claims in the sphere of employment relations. Against this background, international law on state and diplomatic immunities has become increasingly fragmented and uncertain in its scope and application.
The picture that emerges is a fragmented one, suggesting continuing uncertainty on the part of courts and tribunals when faced with immunity claims. This fragmentation and, at times, dissonance, goes to the heart of competing views of the purpose of international law and its declared values. The case-law and evolving human rights norms examined here reveal a willingness to question the scope and purpose of immunity claims. What remains, however, is a tangled web of state and diplomatic immunity laws with limited and often highly contested exceptions that continue to pose significant difficulties for domestic workers seeing effective remedies.
Keywords: immigration, migration, servitude, state immunity, diplomatic immunity, domestic workers, trafficking, forced labour
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