February 21, 2014
PM Gonsalves clears air on diplomatic licence plates

It is permissible for a diplomat to own a private vehicle in a foreign mission and for it to have diplomatic licence plates.{{more}}

This, according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who was responding to a question thrown out by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace.

Eustace raised the issue on the New Times radio programme on Monday, saying that some cleaning up of the Vincentian foreign missions was necessary.

The Leader of the Opposition said that he wanted to know who was the driver of a black Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) with diplomatic license plates CRC 1007 and and if the vehicle is affiliated with the Vincentian consulate in New York.

He further contended that it was regularly seen at the Stony Brook School of Medicine – located some 60 miles outside New York City.

“Is this diplomatic car our car and in that case is the St Vincent and the Grenadines Consulate in contravention of regulations prohibiting this vehicle to operate within a 25-mile radius of New York City?” Eustace asked.

He further questioned if this was going to impact negatively on the Consulate and whether or not it was on the insurance of the vehicle.

But Gonsalves responded on Tuesday during a press conference, saying that there was nothing unlawful about a diplomat owning a private vehicle with diplomatic licence plates.

“There is nothing in the diplomatic rule which says it is impermissible – in fact it is perfectly permissible,” Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister further stated that the 25-mile limitation that the Leader of the Opposition spoke of related to countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the United States, including Cuba, North Korea and even Iran, the Prime Minister said.

“So, you have to stay within that radius in New York City, but any other diplomat can travel wherever they want to travel, and those are the facts,” Gonsalves said. (DD)