• Sweden edition
 

Foreign diplomats owe huge parking fine debt

Published: 17 Aug 2012 11:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Aug 2012 11:39 GMT+02:00

“It is a sad state of affairs and it strikes back at the embassies in question when the problem gets this kind of attention,“ said Anders Jörle, spokesperson for the foreign ministry to daily Svenska Dagbladet.

According to SvD, the ministry receives information from the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) as to how many embassies have unpaid parking tickets.

Up until July 1st, the tally was 579 unpaid tickets with both minor infractions such as failing to pay at the parking metre and flagrant parking offences where the vehicles have been left on cycle paths and at bus stops. The total amount of owed parking fines between January and June this year comes to 439,225 kronor.

According to SvD's investigation, the Russian embassy is responsible for the largest number of unpaid tickets. The second largest culprit is China, according to SvD.

It is up to the foreign ministry to contact the embassies when the ministry sees that they don’t adhere to Swedish law. But the ministry can’t make them pay the fines, as the diplomats all have immunity to Swedish law.

At Swedish embassies and consulates abroad, the policy is that laws of the host country should always be followed. If Swedish diplomats receive a ticket they will pay for the fine themselves, according to the paper.

Politicians in Stockholm’s City Hall think that something has to be done about the unpaid infractions.

“It seems that some embassies are doing this quite regularly. The municipalities need to get increased authority, to be able to clamp the vehicles or tow them away. It upsets me to hear about this,” said city councillor Per Ankersjö to SvD.

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Your comments about this article

12:04 August 17, 2012 by Abe L
Perhaps Stockholm should review their outrages parking fees and start working on more available and free parking solutions.
12:13 August 17, 2012 by Vitas
I am proud for Russia!!! We are the best!
12:30 August 17, 2012 by zhanna2
I'm not surprised that Russia made number one on the list.. We Russian people are business minded, if you know that you can get away without paying, why pay? However, I do admire Swedish people, they are usually very honest and not very good liars.
12:38 August 17, 2012 by Hisingen
This is not just a problem in Sweden. I think you will find that every country suffers from the same negligence, and the sums only get bigger with passing time.

Perhaps the UK habit of clamping should be extended to diplomatic vehicles also, whereby the fee had to be paid prior to removal of said clamp. Or even removal to a pound, from where a hefty fee has to be paid prior to release, no matter what the status of the vehicle.

Clearly the rules NEED to be changed, and the sooner the better for all concerned.
12:53 August 17, 2012 by Svensksmith
Good luck collecting.
13:28 August 17, 2012 by ZenMonk
The solution should be to review the rules on diplomatic immunity. As cuurently applied accross the world, it simply makes diplomats above the law while the host country can only hope that their diplomatic guests will show some self discipline and respect for their laws. Absolute immunity only perpetuates this kind of irresponsible behaviour. There should be a limit to the entent to which diplomats can enjoy immunity. Already, this is being applied in some instances like murder cases, but the fact that in such cases, it is the sending country that must lift the immunity of its diplomats for them to be prosecuted still poses limitations.
13:39 August 17, 2012 by Atlas
Maybe Carl Bildt should remove the diplomatic imunity of foreign embassies to get the fines paid...after all there is another country that has officially declared that diplomatic imunity can be revoked so that their laws can be applied...
13:52 August 17, 2012 by cogito
United Nations diplomats owe New York City $17.2 million in parking fines.

This is but a bagatelle in the U.N.'s colossal culture of corruption.
14:19 August 17, 2012 by Rey Stockholm
How can a car have diplomatic immunity - if no one in ot they should tow it away

They would only need to do it a couple of times for the problem to go away
14:31 August 17, 2012 by cheeba
They are immune. They should never have been given the tickets in the first place.
15:22 August 17, 2012 by skylarkpilot
I think Cheeba has it .... what's the point even issuing the tickets to diplomatic vehicles when you know they are immune from prosecution and unlikely to pay. Another job creation exercise, someone gets to send lots of letters asking for them to pay and after a suitable period some other person gets to put the paperwork through the shredder. Pointless work, but employing people...
20:33 August 17, 2012 by dizzymoe33
There should be no immunity when it comes to crimes being committed and breaking of the laws!!
22:36 August 17, 2012 by Parade
Cogito says it all. Parking around the U.N. in N.Y.C. is out of control. There are some diplomatic missions in N.Y.C. That owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. They're all politicians which is IMO by definition the epitomy of corruption and corrupt.
15:00 August 18, 2012 by viennacalling
I write this comment in Hope that all the Governments concerned immediately rectify the matter. The reason being, it, this very poor disipline, is all a Cost To The Poor Taxpayer of All Countries Involved. These So Called Leaders are So disrespectful to the Global Worldwide Poor Taxpayer who Pays More in Taxes than these pathetic examples to the Human Race !
19:20 August 18, 2012 by cheeba
I think the argument is somewhat similar to the one in the UK right now about whether diplomatic immunity should be curbed.

It always comes down to the fact that what sounds reasonable in a certain type of society will be abused in another one.

Just imagine the waves of arrests and parking tickets and storming of embassies that would be issued to Swedish diplomats in Minsk or Quito if the immunity standards were not kept as strict as possible, there is the problem.
07:15 August 19, 2012 by eurobloke
@Hisingen It isn't just parking fines, in London you only need to look at the amount of money diplomats don't pay in congestion charge (trängselskatt). I think Grosvenor Square (the American embassy) have a bill of about 5M pounds (~ 50M kronor) in unpaid charges!
12:08 August 20, 2012 by DAVID T
Good luck to them - The parking fines in Sweden are outrageous - it's just a money making scam - The cost of parking in Stockholm is criminal and it's not like the public transport is brilliant either. I live in the suburbs and these q-park people just hang around the streets like vultures waiting for you to go over 1 minute on the ticket. I got a ticket on Easter Sunday - the ticket machine didn't accept credit cards and I put in all the cash I had but it wasn't enough for the time I needed - all the shops where closed so of course I got a ticket - makes my blood boil
12:12 August 20, 2012 by robban70226
Publih the Country and amounts like they do in other countries, Maybe that will be an incentive to pay, nothing like good advertizing and a little egg in their face..
15:14 August 22, 2012 by tadchem
Diplomatic immunity is supposed to protect the interests of the host government and the visiting diplomat by allowing diplomatic business to proceed without serious complications.

Parking violations do not complicate diplomatic relations, but rude behaviour by diplomats can cause problems.

Make the chauffeurs responsible for the parking fines and for recovering the vehicles that have to be towed away because the flagrant parking violations have endangered public safety.

If the 'diplomat' is not important enough to have a chauffeur, he isn't important enough for 'diplomatic immunity' to apply to him personally.

Guests should be polite and not presumptive upon the hosts' hospitality.
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