American citizenship won’t affect Ambassador Gonsalves’ immunities – Foreign Minister

Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Camillo Gonsalves is also an American citizen, but that does not prevent him from acting on his diplomatic immunities after he was arrested by a cop in New York last Wednesday.

Minister of Foreign Affair Sen. Douglas Slater said Tuesday that while Gonsalves has dual citizenship, he is still entitled to all the rights and privileges the Vienna Convention accords diplomatic agents

Slater, however, said that whether a shared lobby in a building housing multiple embassies could be considered part of the territory of each of those countries, would make for “an interesting legal debate”.

He was speaking on an interactive radio programme as Vincentians continue to discuss the repercussions and avenues for redress after a New York Police Department officer arrested and handcuffed Gonsalves in the lobby of his office building last Wednesday.

Slater said on Thursday that his Unity Labour Party government would leave no stones unturned as it seeks redress and has not ruled out the possibility of legal action again the cop and the city.

But a caller to a radio programme on Tuesday asked Slater if Gonsalves’ dual citizenship and the fact that the arrest took part in the lobby of the building would affect the diplomat’s immunities.

“Camillo Gonsalves was born in the United States and therefore is and has the right of United States citizenship,” Slater said of the diplomat, who is the oldest son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

“However, his Vincentian citizenship is by descent — his father being Vincentian — and he therefore has the right to dual citizenship, which he enjoys now,” Slater said.

“Usually and normally, there are certain diplomatic positions where a citizens of the accepting country cannot accept it. But in this case, it is not so. He is a legitimate representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and enjoys the privileges and rights of any other ambassador.

“… I think in this whole fiasco that was raised; that they may consider that they may [waive] the diplomatic immunity. … My understanding is that it is not as simple as that. He was functioning as a Vincentian representative at the time of the incident and remains so. So I don’t think there is any problem there,” Slater further said.

Ambassador Gonsalves, in a report submitted to his government, said that after the incident last Wednesday, U.S. State Department personnel said that the NYPD was considering issuing him a summons for disorderly conduct, which would require him to pay a fine.

The cop has accused Gonsalves of disorderly conduct after the diplomat moved a barrier to gain access to the building, something he said he and other diplomats do frequently.

Gonsalves, according to the report, told the officials that he considered himself a victim of a police assault and may pursue his own redress to that assault. The U.S. State Department official shortly after said that the NYPD had decided not to issue any summons.

Minister of Foreign Affairs , Sen. Douglas Slater (File photo)

“Later that day, I was contacted by the U.S. State Department and reminded that, if I decide to pursue legal action for my assault, I would be waiving whatever jurisdictional immunities I possess as a diplomatic agent. I was informed that, if I contemplated legal action, I may become subject to a counter suit by the New York District Attorney. Responding to this, I told the State Department official that all of my legal and diplomatic options remain open at this point, and that I was unwilling to foreclose on any action under threat of counteraction,” Gonsalves said in his report.

Regarding the lobby of the building, — a common space used by the 10 or so mission in the building — Slater said that while he was not a lawyer he was reading the Vienna Convention.

“I really can’t give you an answer that I can say I am really sure of. … We think it is going to be an interesting legal debate … I was reading up the Vienna Convention and my layman’s interpretation is that the premises, and as far as I am concerned, the building … and the premises, is also inviolable. And in my opinion, the lobby of the building forms part of the total premises. That is as best as I could answer it but, certainly, the legal pundits, the lawyers, would be better able to answer that question than I can,” he said.

Both Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace are expected to speak on the arrest of Ambassador Gonsalves during separate press conferences at 1:30 p.m. and 11 a.m. today.

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6 thoughts on “American citizenship won’t affect Ambassador Gonsalves’ immunities – Foreign Minister

  1. Eustace need to keep out of that ‘cookup callaloo soup’ and let them boys Ralph,Camillo and slater deal with the matter. Eustace already knows people just waiting for him to say something wrong to use it against him. I thought Eustace had more sense than that. Is this the only time they want to listen to Eustace. Right now I am dissapointed with Eustace. It seems like I will have to come to the rescue of Vincentians sooner or later. I just can’t understand the kind of comedian politicians they have in SVG. I just hope he doesn’t go there and talk shit.

    Next, thing Camillo is an American Citizen and hold the title of a political position that represents SVG, so I hope when other Vincentians leaves America ,Canada or England with their foreign Citizenship and choose to get political active,the Govt don’t say that they have to change their Foreign status.(Dual citizenship should be good for everyone)

    Finally,I don’t know why the hell Slater will not shut up. The people in South leeward he couldn’t even open his stupid mouth to represent them in parliament, now listen to him talking rubbish. The only reason they did not bother to give Camillo the summons is because they found out he is the Ambassador for SVG and so they want to avoid the embarrassment. All that talk about sue is going out the window. Gonsalves should know better than that and the dumb heads ministers he has around him doesn’t know shit either or they would encouraged him better.

    Posted by Prof-Dasilva | April 3, 2012, 11:58
    • You tell him to keep out of Gonsalves and dem cookup, but there are others who couldn’t wait for him to make a statement on the issue… “waht kinda leader is this?” and this, that and the other…

      What gives?? Who should he please? You or them, or none of you at all?

      Posted by Bagga | April 3, 2012, 15:08
  2. As an american citizen he could go to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and get them to fund his defense and protest his abuse

    Posted by Joe | April 3, 2012, 12:35
  3. Is he still an American?, didn’t he have to give up his US status to represent SVG?, i think 2, “subject to loss”, and B, “judged to have lost”, falls right in his lap.

    Loss of U.S. Citizenship

    The automatic acquisition or retention of a foreign nationality does not affect U.S. citizenship; however, the acquisition of a foreign nationality upon one’s own application may cause loss of U.S. citizenship under Section 349(a)(1) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (8 U.S.C. 1481). In order for loss of nationality to occur under Section 349(a)(1), it must be established that the naturalization was obtained with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship. Such an intention may be shown by a person’s statements or conduct. If the U.S. Government is unable to prove that the person had such an intention when applying for and obtaining the foreign citizenship, the person will have both nationalities.

    More on Loss of U.S. Citizenship

    Loss of Citizenship. Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that US citizens are subject to loss of citizenship if they perform certain acts voluntarily with the intention to relinquish US citizenship. These acts are:

    1. Becoming a naturalized citizen of a foreign state;
    2. Taking an oath, affirmation or other formal declaration to a foreign state or its political subdivisions;
    3. Entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the US or serving as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the armed forces of a foreign state;
    4. Accepting employment with a foreign government if (a) one has the nationality of that state or (b) a declaration of allegiance is required in accepting the position;
    5. Formally renouncing US citizenship before a US consular officer outside of the United States;
    formally renouncing US citizenship within the US (but only in time of war);
    6. Conviction for an act of treason.

    The Department of State is responsible for determining the citizenship status of a person located outside of the United States. When such cases come to the attention of a US consular officer, the person concerned will be asked to complete a questionnaire to ascertain his/her intention to relinquish US citizenship. Unless that person clearly and affirmatively asserts that it was his/her intention to relinquish US citizenship, the consular officer is required by law to assume that the person acted with the intention to retain his/her US citizenship, and therefore rule that the person did not lose his/her US citizenship.

    Consequently a person will be judged to have lost nationality only in those cases where:
    A. The individual formally renounces US citizenship in writing before a consular officer;
    B. Takes a policy level position in a foreign state;
    C. Is convicted of treason; or
    D. The expatriating act is accompanied by conduct which is so inconsistent with retention of US citizenship that it compels a conclusion that the person intended to relinquish US citizenship (such cases are very rare).

    Posted by KS784 | April 3, 2012, 21:55
  4. The boy rude like his ill trained father.

    Posted by L Sutton | April 3, 2012, 22:44
  5. No wonder Mule Gonsalves is a bit cheesy, he was born in Philidelphia, home of a great soft cheese.

    To reverese the lies now will now stand us in worse than the original lies. Let it drop and send Mule Gonsalves back to Phili, or Jamaica.

    Posted by Peter | April 4, 2012, 12:59

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