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No diplomatic immunity for domestic worker abuse!

8 January 2014 Urgent Action
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Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general to the US, was arrested by US police in December for allegedly paying her housekeeper Sangeeta Richard less than one-third the legal minimum wage and lying to US officials about Sangeeta's real wage and working conditions. While there are understandable concern about Khobragade's treatment following arrest, the diplomatic row between the US and India triggered by the arrest has obscured the real issue of worker exploitation. Click here to send a message!

The government of India is trying to shield the diplomat from the potential consequences of criminal fraud and exploitation, first by arguing that her position at the time of her arrest entitled her to diplomatic immunity, and now by rewarding her with a UN position intending to solidify her immunity. The US and Indian governments are currently negotiating the granting of immunity for Ms. Khobragade, and a decision is expected shortly.

The legitimate principle of diplomatic immunity was never intended as a license to abuse the law in host countries, and certainly not to abuse fundamental human rights, least of all at the United Nations, whose International Labour Office exists to protect the rights of workers.

Sangeeta's case is emblematic of the routine abuse of domestic workers in general and, as many cases over the years have shown, their abuse by government and diplomatic officials.

The IUF, the International Domestic Workers Federation, the US National Domestic Workers Alliance & United Workers Congress, and the domestic worker unions and organizations of India are calling for urgent messages to be sent to the Indian and US ambassadors to the United Nations. Click here to send a message telling them there can be no immunity where human and worker rights are concerned!