How does diplomatic immunity work, is it different to diplomatic protection and what has the UN said about missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

But what is diplomatic immunity and how does it work? Here's what you need to know.

What is diplomatic immunity?

Diplomatic immunity applies to embassy staff who might otherwise find themselves in trouble with the law in a foreign country.

While it depends on rank, top officials get full immunity in their host country along with their deputies and families, following laws crafted in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

This means ambassadors can commit any crime, including murder, and be immune from local law which includes being arrested, prosecuted or being forced to testify in court.

They can still be expelled from the country they are based in.

This immunity became a bone of contention when unarmed PC Yvone Fletcher , 25, died in April 1984 after shots were fired from inside the Libyan Embassy in London at an anti-Gaddafi protest outside.

When the siege ended after 11 days, all Libyan diplomats made their way out of the embassy and were allowed safe passage to the airport.

The Libyan government accepted “general responsibility” for the shooting 15 years later and offered compensation to her family, but no one has been convicted for her murder.

What did the United Nations say about missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi?

The UN’s has called for diplomatic immunity of Saudi officials to be dropped to allow for a transparent investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the "inviolability or immunity" of people or premises granted under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations "should be waived immediately."
She said: "Given there seems to be clear evidence that Mr Khashoggi entered the consulate and has never been seen since, the onus is on the Saudi authorities to reveal what happened to him."

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and high-profile critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to complete routine paperwork shortly after 1pm on October 2.

It is believed he wanted to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz, who waited outside but never saw him again.

The next day he was reported missing by colleagues at the Washington Post.

On October 4 Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi had disappeared “after he left the consulate building”, but a Turkish official told Reuters initial investigations indicated he was murdered inside the consulate.

Evidence suggests Khashoggi was tortured to death, dismembered and smuggled out — supervised by pathologist Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi.

The Saudi official was seen in the city while an agent with a bone-cutter tool was said to be part of a 15-strong kill team.

A source claims to have heard a recording from the writer's Apple Watch capturing the moment he was allegedly dragged into a study and butchered alive in a seven-minute execution.

Turkish police who searched the consulate found "toxic materials" were covered up with a fresh coat of paint, president Erdogan said.

In November Theresa May told Crown Prince Salman he had to prove to the world that such a "deplorable" killing could never happen again.

What is diplomatic protection?

Diplomatic protection is where a state can help one of its nationals whose rights have been breached in another country.

It is very different to diplomatic immunity.

A visitor to another country, who is not a diplomat, is subject to the laws of the country they are visiting.

If they are accused of wrongdoing, protection allows their country to give consular help from the local embassy but they cannot stop someone from being arrested, charged or imprisoned.

Help from an embassy could mean contacting family or legal support and medical help.

As with the case of British subject Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British embassy in Iran can provide assistance but not ensure she is freed.

Diplomatic protection can come in many forms.

Director of Redress human rights campaign group Carla Ferstman told the BBC that this can range from "a request for an inquiry or for negotiations aimed at the settlement of disputes, negotiation, mediation and conciliation ranging up to arbitral and judicial dispute settlement".

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