drug and sex offenders
Hundreds of honorary consuls involved in crimes
11/15/2022 8:19 am
Honorary consuls are employed as honorary diplomats where a country cannot or will not afford an ambassador. A media investigation now shows that hundreds of them are involved in criminal activities. They make targeted use of their privileges, for example when travelling.
According to international media research, hundreds of so-called shadow diplomats, such as honorary consuls, are involved in criminal or at least problematic activities worldwide. More than 500 current or former honorary consuls are or may be involved in criminal cases, scandals or government investigations. They would include convicted drug and arms traffickers and sex offenders.
According to Spiegel, the investigation was initiated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the American research platform ProPublica. Nearly 60 media outlets in 46 countries participated in the project. In Germany, in addition to the news magazine, it was also the NDR, the WDR and the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
A former honorary consul of Italy in Egypt allegedly attempted to export valuable artifacts such as mummy masks and was sentenced – in absentia – to 15 years in prison. According to the report, the main problem is that the honorary diplomats enjoy privileges but are insufficiently monitored.
The federal government launched investigations
Honorary consuls must, among other things, support countries that cannot afford to send full-time diplomats abroad. In Western countries, people with long professional experience, for example in business or politics, often fulfill this honorary position. For example, they maintain contacts in the other country and certify documents.
However, according to the research, there are plenty of black sheep who specifically exploit the privileges, such as when traveling – and some titles can even be purchased. According to the study, since 2020, the federal government has sent five so-called memorandums to inform other countries about criminal investigations against their honorary consuls. Germany is also represented abroad by many honorary consuls – often in smaller cities or regions where there are no embassies or consulates.