Indian and Saudi Arabian authorities must work together to deliver justice and reparation for two Nepali women who were raped and assaulted repeatedly, allegedly by a Saudi Arabian diplomat and others, Amnesty International India said today.
The two women were found by the Haryana police during a raid on the Gurgaon apartment of the Saudi Arabian diplomat on 9 September. The women, who were employed as domestic workers, said they had been forcibly confined, starved and repeatedly raped and assaulted by the diplomat and others over months.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy in New Delhi denied the allegations, and complained that the police entry into the diplomat’s home breached diplomatic conventions. On 16 September, the diplomat returned to Saudi Arabia. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the diplomat was protected by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Haryana police have registered a criminal case against six unnamed people, but have not yet filed charges.
“Diplomatic immunity must not lead to impunity for human rights abuses,” said Gopika Bashi, Women’s Rights Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
“Authorities in India must promptly investigate the allegations, charge those suspected and seek their extradition from Saudi Arabia for prosecution, if required. The Saudi Arabian government, on its part, must not use the shield of diplomatic immunity to protect anyone, and must extradite suspects to India, if the need arises.”
Medical assessments leaked to the media confirmed that the women had been vaginally and anally raped and brutally beaten. A newspaper quoted a senior hospital official as saying that the medical examination showed that “the women have been so grievously tortured that it will take years to recover”.
Both the survivors are currently staying in a shelter home in Kathmandu and receiving psychological counselling. One of them told Amnesty International Nepal, “For me, the sooner I get justice the better. Three countries are involved in this. We have faced so many problems and we struggled a lot, and we need justice…Arrest whoever is involved…It is like a nightmare for us. The only thing I want is justice and for them to be put in jail”.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which India and Saudi Arabia are state parties, grants diplomats immunity from criminal prosecution by a receiving state. Diplomatic immunity is meant to enable diplomats to carry out their work without fearing intimidation or harassment by the receiving state. However the treaty also states that diplomats enjoying immunities have a duty to respect the laws of the receiving state.