• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

November 25, 2008

Diplomats Behaving Badly

international flags

Photo Credit: Dutchy/iStock

Special Offer

Used to be that diplomatic immunity meant a Saudi prince could park on the sidewalk in D.C. and no one said boo. But recent cases involving diplomats who enslaved domestic workers in their homes are bringing the above-the-law status of "dignitaries" into question. In July, a Filipino woman sued former U.N. honcho Lauro Liboon Baja, saying he forced her to be a maid and round-the-clock babysitter to his son for about $3 a day — in his five-story New York City townhouse. The civil case is pending, but Baja's attorneys intend to plead diplomatic immunity. Last year, three Indian domestic workers sued a Kuwaiti diplomat in Virginia for beating and starving them during 18-hour workdays; the offender was asked to leave the country, but no criminal charges were brought. Months later, a jury ordered the mother-in-law of another Filipino consul to pay $78,000 to a 21-year-old woman she'd forced to work (bathing her incapacitated husband, giving friends pedicures) without pay. When diplomats engage in criminal behavior on U.S. soil, their homes cannot be searched, criminal charges cannot be brought, and the worst they face is to be sent back home. The Government Accountability Office reported some 42 complaints of domestic-worker abuse by diplomats since 2000; at least 17 were investigated, but not one resulted in a prosecution. Most offenses go unreported by victims, who fear retaliation or don't speak English. In September, Senator Joe Biden introduced the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which, if passed, would force the State Department to hold foreign diplomats accountable, if not for their parking tickets, then at least for how they treat their employees.

This Is A Developing Story
Connect with Marie Claire:
daily giveaway
Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

Win a year’s supply of makeup products from Tarte and a year’s supply of hair products from Hamadi Organics!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From World News on Women
The 6 Toughest Single Women in Film (PHOTOS)

Don't mess with these strong female leads.

Into Africa

Driven by equal parts passion and ambition, young Americans are taking a career path less traveled to Rwanda, turning life experience into a world of good, almost 20 years after the genocide.

My Mom And I Share The Same Husband

A mother and daughter having sex with the same man may sound hard to believe, but it's a necessity for women in one Bangladeshi tribe. Not that they're thrilled about it.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.