A new accord between Taiwan and the US on privileges and immunities for diplomatic staff took effect as soon as it was signed in February, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said on Sunday, dismissing a report that it had yet to be enacted.
The agreement on diplomatic privileges, exemptions and immunities was signed by Representative to the US King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) and American Institute in Taiwan Managing Director Barbara Schrage in Washington on Feb. 4.
The agreement has been applied to diplomatic staff from Taiwan and the US stationed in each other’s countries, Kao said in response to a report in the Chinese-language United Evening News which said the legislature had yet to complete administrative procedures on the pact since receiving it from the Cabinet in March.
The pact grants diplomatic personnel in Taiwan and the US the privileges and immunities enjoyed by staff in countries with formal diplomatic ties, the ministry said.
A 1980 agreement gave US and Taiwanese diplomatic staff “immunity from lawsuits and legal processes equivalent to those enjoyed by public international organizations in the United States,” but immunity was generally limited to “official acts,” or acts performed within the scope of authorized functions.
The new agreement gives staff at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US broad diplomatic immunity similar to that enjoyed by diplomatic staff at foreign embassies.
The directors and deputy directors of Taiwan’s 12 other representative offices in the US are also covered by the new agreement.
Taiwan and the US agreed to review the earlier agreement after former Taipei Economic and Cultural Office director-general Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍) was detained in Missouri on labor fraud charges in November 2011. The case sparked a dispute between Taiwan and the US over the application of diplomatic immunity.