Status on issuing diplomatic passports

The Foreign Minister, Rinzin Dorje, has asserted that the Passport Manual 2006 would be looked into closely to determine the effect of issuing too many diplomatic passports. This comes after concerns were raised on the increasing number of diplomatic passport holders in the country and the high chances of misuse of the document.

Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, during the Meet-the-Press session on August 28, said that the number of diplomatic passport holder has now dropped to 595-592 from 1,107 in 2006. The number dropped after the foreign ministry relooked into measures and the value of the diplomatic passport.

Last year, a few senior bureaucrats claimed that there are too many diplomats in the country, and accordingly, the foreign ministry promised to look for various means to scrutinize the retention of diplomatic passport and maintain the numbers of diplomatic passport holder at a rational number.

The Foreign minister has scrutinized and withdrawn the diplomatic passport from those not entitled, superannuated and completed the term, like MPs, private business people and former bureaucrats.

Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje said the foreign ministry has provided a diplomatic passport to every MP and they have retained it even after leaving their post. The Foreign Minister said that the diplomatic passports held by former MPs and diplomats who have superannuated will be withdrawn. “If not, being a very small society, towards a few year times down the line, everybody would be eligible or would be carrying the diplomatic passport and that would dilute the importance of the passport,” he added.

He said the value of the diplomatic passport would be undermined by host countries with many individuals holding the document even when they are no longer eligible for it.

Lyonpo said the renewal of the diplomatic passport including those held by the cabinet ministers will be closely monitored.

The diplomatic passport holders, like the diplomats, the secretaries and above, Parliamentarian, past and present cabinet ministers, Royal Family, foreign ministry officials working abroad enjoy diplomatic immunity which includes safe passages while travelling. They are not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country’s law, although they can be extradited.

The principles of diplomatic immunity allow for diplomats to gain privileges and immunities and ensure that they can effectively carry out their duties in the countries that share diplomatic ties.

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