Police regret search of Suriname envoy's vehicle
Stabroek News
February 7, 2004

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The police yesterday expressed regret for ranks searching a vehicle registered to the Suriname Embassy.

The police statement comes in the wake of an official letter of protest to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rudy Insanally by his Surinamese counterpart, Marie Levens on Thursday.

Efforts to contact Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper on the issue yesterday proved unsuccessful.

The incident occurred on Wednesday afternoon in the vicinity of the Shell Gas Station on Vlissengen Road when armed ranks of the Tactical Services Unit (TSU) stopped the vehicle bearing yellow diplomatic number plates and demanding to conduct a search. The vehicle, which is heavily tinted, is covered under the Geneva Convention governing how diplomatic members of staff are to be treated in host countries.

A report in the English edition of the Surinamese newspaper, De Ware Tijd yesterday said Levens had protested to Insanally in reaction to the violation of the rights of a Suriname embassy staffer by police.

According to the newspaper report, the police demanded to search the diplomatic vehicle despite the chauffeur identifying himself and referring to the car's immunity.

He was ordered to drive the car to the Brickdam police station during which time he contacted Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan who arrived just in time to avoid him being placed in the lock ups, the report said.

Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent David Ramnarine told Stabroek News that the police had been fully briefed on the incident and regarded the occurrence as one which should never have happened.

According to Ramnarine, the force is taking adequate steps to ensure that its ranks are aware of the requirements to be followed when dealing with such categories of persons.

"We envisage that there will not be a repeat of such an incident."

He said superiors had interviewed the ranks involved but was unable to say if and what disciplinary action was taken.