OPBP Completes Report on Diplomatic Immunity and the Prohibition of Human Trafficking

Olivia Flasch - 4th April 2016

OPBP has recently completed a Report investigating the commercial nature of human trafficking as justifying an exception to diplomatic immunity. The Report engages in a comparative study of twelve jurisdictions by probing four broad issues: the prohibition of human trafficking, the commercial nature of human trafficking, incorporation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and instances of human trafficking falling under the commercial activity exception of the l961 Vienna Convention.

The report confirms that human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights. Its prohibition has expanded on the international, regional and national level and a growing number of implementation mechanisms have been developed. There are authorities to support the commercial dimension of human trafficking and successful invocations of the commercial activity exception (Zimbabwe, Italy). However, national courts are divided on the question of whether the commercial nature of human trafficking justifies an exception to diplomatic immunity. Some courts have rejected the exception (United States of America) while others have left the question open (Germany). French courts refusing to lift immunity have nevertheless found the State had an objective responsibility to compensate unpaid workers.

The Report was prepared for the benefit of Kalayaan, an organisation working to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers in the UK for its intervention in the appeal brought before the UK Supreme Court (against the Court of Appeal’s decision in Reyes v Almalki [2015] EWCA Civ 32). OPBP wishes Kalayaan the very best in their intervention.

This research would not have been possible without the team of student volunteers who provided a high quality work. OPBP also wishes to thank Dr Eirik Bjorge for supervising this project, Louis Tran Van Lieu for acting as the student co-ordinator, and Marija Jovanovic for her participation.

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