South Sudanese Diplomat Suspended After Dodging Rape Charges With Diplomatic Immunity

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India

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations protects foreign envoys from detention or arrest during their posting, but can in rare cases be waived by their home country. Still, it has been invoked to dodge responsibility for everything from petty theft to assault, tax evasion, and homicide.

South Sudan suspended one of its envoys to the United Nations as a consequence of sexual assault allegations on Thursday, claiming that it was investigating the matter.

“The leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation took the decision to immediately recall the diplomat in question, pending a full investigation from a specialized committee,” South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

“As a government we have worked tirelessly since our inception to ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected,” the ministry added.

Charles Dickens Imene Oliha, 46, was a lifelong diplomat assigned by South Sudan to the permanent UN mission. He was arrested on Sunday evening by New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers following a woman’s report that Oliha had raped her in her dela Fort George apartment.

According to the New York PostOliha claimed diplomatic immunity and was released after officers confirmed its validity on Monday morning.
“Whenever there’s a sexual assault like this, it’s horrible. As a law-enforcement agency, we have done all that we can do at this point,” an NYPD spokesperson told the paper.

The alleged victim was taken to Columbia University Irving Medical Center, where a rape test was performed, the Post noted, adding that it was unclear if the NYPD had collected a DNA sample from Oliha while in custody.

The South Sudanese Foreign Ministry called it “regretful” that Juba’s relationship with Washington had been “jeopardized” by the incident.

“We are committed to working closely with the relevant US authorities to take the appropriate action, following the outcome of all investigations,” the ministry said.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that it was “a particular issue between the member state and the US government, but we’ll keep an eye on it.”

He pointed out that there has been some early misreporting on the matter and added that the person in question does directly for the UN.

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