The U.S. and Pakistan are currently engaged in a diplomatic tussle over Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor held in Pakistan for allegedly killing two men in Lahore in January. The U.S. has called for Davis' release, citing his diplomatic immunity. In an e-mail interview, Linda Frey, professor of European History at the University of Montana and Marsha Frey, professor of European History at Kansas State University, co-authors of "The History of Diplomatic Immunity," discussed the history and operation of diplomatic immunity.
WPR: What does diplomatic immunity cover and exclude, and who receives it?
Linda Frey and Marsha Frey: As a Brazilian delegate once remarked, diplomatic immunity is like virginity: Either you have it or you don't. Diplomatic immunity covers the official representative, his immediate family -- spouse and children -- and staff who are on the official list. Diplomatic immunity means exemption from civil and criminal prosecution in the host state. The diplomat also enjoys inviolability and jurisdictional immunity on the way to and from a posting if the transit state has issued him or her a visa or a passport.