Diplomat can’t hide behind veil of immunity, family court says

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Photo: Miguela Xuereb

Tista ‘taqra bil-
Malta.

Diplomatic immunity is not a carte blanche, a family court ruled, as it upheld an injunction filed by a woman to prevent her ex-husband from taking one of their two sons out of the country.

In a ruling on Friday, a family court upheld a restraining order the mother had requested and effectively prevented the man, who works at the Spanish embassy, ​​from leaving Malta with one of the couple’s minor sons.

Indeed, the court ruled that the Malta-based diplomat cannot claim diplomatic immunity to defy his order and prevent his divorced wife from seeing their sons. The other child had already been taken off the island, allegedly without the mother’s consent.

Last month, the wife alleged that her ex-husband had “improperly” invoked diplomatic immunity to prevent him from seeing their two children.

The Court declared that “the issuance of an injunction prohibiting her from leaving Malta with the child is more than justified in these circumstances”.

The family court, chaired by Judge Anthony G. Vella, ruled that the father “cannot have the proverbial cake and eat it” in reference to the man’s attempts to prevent the mother from leaving the islands with their son.

The Court observed that diplomatic immunity “hardly applies to civil disputes between relatives”, adding that it was not meant to be “a carte blanche for the diplomat to do whatever he wants, or that such a person is above the law, or in the Orwellian language, more equal than others.

“Diplomatic immunity is not intended to allow people to flout the law and willfully avoid responsibility for their actions,” the court said, citing a US State Department on diplomatic immunity.

In this case, the father “cannot hide behind the thin veil of diplomatic immunity in this case and claim that he is untouchable or above Maltese law,” the court added.

A father denied his ex-wife access to children

The woman claimed the father was circumventing orders from a family court, which granted him weekly supervised access to the two boys.

Although a Maltese family court granted him the right to see the children every week under supervision, the father informed the child welfare agency in August that he would no longer allow access to children until “the question of diplomatic immunity is resolved in seeking.”

Mother alleges father invoked diplomatic immunity to block access to children

Subsequently, lawyer Robert Thake filed a court order on behalf of his client against the Ministry of the Family, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Social Services Foundation, the State Advocate, the Ambassador of ‘Spain and the father, who was stationed at the embassy.

The couple married in 2006 and had two children, they are now divorced, according to the court document. They were granted joint custody of their sons, with the court declaring that the boys aged 11 and 13 had to live with the father.

The woman moved to Malta after the father was posted to the island. She was then granted supervised visits twice a week, lasting two hours each, after a court application was filed by the man in family court.

Diplomatic immunity has been invoked “in an abusive manner,” the woman argued in her legal protest signed by Thake and argued that the man’s official duties had nothing to do with her relationship with him. his sons.


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