KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The chair of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassadors at the United Nations, Delano Bart, QC, has written to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other members of the diplomatic corps expressing the group’s “deep concern” about the arrest of Vincentian ambassador, Camillo Gonsalves last week.
Bart, the St. Kitts and Nevis ambassador to the United Nations, in a letter last Thursday, said that a New York City Police Department officer last Wednesday “rudely questioned” Gonsalves, who had disembarked his official vehicle — bearing diplomatic license plates — and walked through a barricade to access his office, as he had done for the past five years.
“On his way to the elevator, he was shouted at and confronted by a police officer who rudely questioned his action and then grabbed him by the neck and shoulder, displaying undue physical harassment against the ambassador,” Bart wrote in the letter that was also copied to Susan Rice, ambassador of the United States to the United Nations.
The letter further said, “The police officer’s provocative and uncivilised treatment of Ambassador Gonsalves reflects blatant contempt for the human dignity of the Ambassador, and abandoned basic principles of civilised behaviour.”
The development, the letter further stated, “constitutes a very serious and flagrant violation of obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”.
Bart said that the United States, as host country of the U.N. Headquarters, “must ensure that such cases are thoroughly investigated and remedied, in accordance with the applicable international law.
“We call for immediate action to address these violations since such adherence could have prevented the physical and psychological distress which Ambassador Gonsalves suffered without any justification,” Bart said in the letter copied to Cyrus U.N Ambassador Minas A. Hadjimichael, chair of the U.N. Committee on Relations with the Host Country.
Bart said that the observance of privileges and immunities is of great importance to the normal functioning of the diplomatic community.
“We are therefore bringing this most unfortunate incident experience by Ambassador Gonsalves to the attention of the Host Country, with the expectation that the matter will be fully addressed to improve the conditions and to promote the required and expected compliance with international norms relating to diplomatic privileges and immunities,” the letter further said.
The letter was also copied to Commissioner Marjorie B. Tiven, New York City commissioner for the United Nations Consular Corps and Protocol and Desmond Parker, chief of protocol, U.N. Headquarters.