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From The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)

Online Petition: No diplomatic immunity for domestic worker abuse!

8 January 2014

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The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)
http://www.iuf.org

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.

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. Use the form below to send a message telling them there can be no immunity where human and worker rights are concerned!

Your name: [required]
Your email: [required]
Your union/organization:
Country:
Here is the message you are sending:

Dear Ambassadors Mukerji and Power,

I write to echo the concerns expressed by domestic workers’ organizations in India, the United States and around the world over the current negotiations between the governments of India and the United States over granting immunity to Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade. While we acknowledge the legitimate concerns over the allegations of brutal treatment of Ms. Khobragade, these should not obscure the fundamental human rights issues at the core of the case, namely that Ms. Khobragade was arrested for allegedly denying basic rights to her domestic employee and concealing the facts from the US authorities.

Diplomatic immunity is a privilege that was never intended to serve as a shield against criminal prosecution for private acts, least of all at the United Nations, whose International Labour Office exists to protect the fundamental rights of workers and which recently adopted Convention 189 which specifically sets out the rights of domestic workers.

Ms. Richard’s rights, and the rights of hundreds of thousands of domestic workers, have been entirely eclipsed by the diplomatic row. Ms. Khobragade is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, but elementary principles of justice require the legal process to proceed. Due process of law for violations of labour rights should not be rescinded, restricted or downgraded, but firmly defended, all the more so when fundamental human rights are at stake.

Yours sincerely

Sign the petition at: http://www.iuf.org/cgi-bin/campaigns/show_campaign.cgi?c=832


If you wish to send your own message and not use this text, please open your email client and paste these addresses into the To field:

india at un.int
ind_general at indiaun.net
boludaG at state.gov
ballsr at state.gov
bassjr at state.gov