Dr Paul Behrens discusses consular law with the Süddeutsche Zeitung
Thu 8 December 2022
In a longer feature article of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's leading newspapers, Dr Paul Behrens, Reader in Law at Edinburgh Law School, was quoted on several aspects of consular law.
Parts of the article were based on an interview that the authors had held with Dr Behrens and which reflected on questions ranging from the history and appointment of honorary consuls to the immunities that apply to them. Consuls are persons appointed by a State to look after the interests of its nationals abroad – so their work often involves the issuing of passports and visas, or helping tourists or exchange students who find themselves in an emergency.
There are, however, two types of consuls. Honorary consuls – as opposed to professional consuls, have fewer immunities. They are often members of the business community of the receiving State and may well be nationals of that State, and they often continue their commercial activities while also carrying out consular duties. In some cases, this has created a temptation to abuse this position and the rights that come with it. Charges that have been raised against honorary consuls in that regard include drug trafficking, illegal gambling and gun smuggling.
The article of the Süddeutsche Zeitung is part of the 'Shadow Diplomats' investigation, which involves 60 media in 45 countries, which report about the abuses of privileges and immunities by honorary consuls.