Home Immunity Diplomat claims immunity after ‘abducting’ son from school

Diplomat claims immunity after ‘abducting’ son from school

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A Spanish diplomat stationed in Malta is claiming diplomatic immunity after allegedly picking up his 12-year-old son from school last week when the boy was due to return home to his mother.

The boy has been out of school for the past few days, spending time at the Spanish Embassy in Malta following what the mother calls a ‘gross abuse of diplomatic immunity’.

“September 28… [the father] entered a restricted area [at the school] and physically blocked around 25 buses and 300 children leaving the school premises… in order to take custody of the boy abusively and without the mother’s consent”, claims the mother in a legal protest.

Through her lawyer Robert Thake, she filed the protest against the father, the minister of education, the state attorney and the Spanish ambassador. Names are withheld to protect the boy’s identity.

The protest described how the couple married in 2006 and have since divorced. When the father was transferred to Malta, his ex-wife also moved to the island in order to be closer to their two sons, now aged 12 and 14, who initially lived with the father who had custody of them. complete.

Once the mother moved to Malta, she was initially granted visitation rights. Today, the oldest son lives with the father and the youngest with the mother, as decided by the family court in December 2021.

However, on September 28, the father went to the private school where the 12-year-old was waiting for the bus to go home to his mother and took him away without her consent, the mother claims.

On October 3, police accompanied by marshals of justice went to pick up the boy to bring him back to his mother, but the father invoked diplomatic immunity. That day, a school day, the boy was found at the embassy. It is not known whether the boy is still at the embassy or at his father’s residence.

Meanwhile, the school informed the parents that the boy could not come until the situation was clarified. The school also said it does not offer distance learning.

Diplomatic immunity is not intended to allow people to flout the law

During the demonstration, the mother said that all this deprived the child of his right to education. By law, parents have a duty to ensure that children of compulsory school age – between five and 15 – attend school. The father’s actions were “unlawful and abusive” because they violated the family court ruling. They also deprived the boy of going to school, she said.

The mother asked the Education Division to intervene to keep the minor in school and asked the courts to declare that the father had broken the law and was not covered by diplomatic immunity.

The mother said she also informed the Spanish foreign minister to take disciplinary action against the father.

Not the first time

It was not the first time the father had tried to use diplomatic immunity to ignore the Maltese courts’ ruling. In July 2021, the mother had turned to justice to prevent her ex-husband from taking their child out of the country and had obtained an injunction provisionally confirmed by the court. The father hit back, saying his diplomatic status meant he could not be bound by the civil jurisdiction of a foreign court.

In September, the family court told the diplomat he could not invoke diplomatic immunity to defy a court order and prevent his ex-wife from seeing their sons.

The court observed that diplomatic immunity was not meant to be “a carte blanche for the diplomat to do whatever he wants, or for such a person to be above the law…Diplomatic immunity does not is not intended to serve as a license for people to flout the law and deliberately avoid responsibility for their actions”.

The court upheld the restraining order the mother had sought and effectively prevented the man from leaving Malta with the boy. Questions sent to the Spanish Embassy remained unanswered.

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