The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Chile (Collier)

No. 699

Sir: The Department refers to the Embassy’s despatch No. 962 of November 22, 1926, enclosing a copy in translation of the decision of the Court of Appeals at Santiago of September 24, 1926, holding that a Secretary of the Brazilian Embassy in Santiago was subject to the jurisdiction of the Chilean courts in a criminal case and that he might be arrested and imprisoned for his criminal acts committed in Chilean territory. The Embassy states that although the decision of the Court will remain without practical effect as the Secretary in question was called home by his Government shortly after the case began, members of the diplomatic corps in Santiago feel that the decision is a dangerous precedent and should not go unchallenged.

While the Department feels that the decision of the Court in the case referred to was in contravention of the generally recognized principle of international law that diplomatic immunity from local criminal jurisdiction enjoyed by heads of diplomatic missions also extends to the members of their suites, it is considered that this Government need not make a special protest against the precedent set by the case. However, should the diplomatic corps at Santiago decide that the decision merits a joint protest to the Chilean Government as being contrary to international law, you are authorized to express concurrence.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Joseph C. Grew