US Embassy Luxembourg: Two executive assistants at this Front Office but no DCM?

Not even in an acting capacity. What’s with that?

We can’t recall seeing anything like this. Every embassy has its hierarchy and back-up responsibilities are almost always assigned before hand to ensure the proper functioning of the mission.  When an accredited ambassador is away from his or her host country, the number two person normally steps forward as charge d’affaires or at times, as chargés d’affaires ad interim.  From what we’ve seen, whoever is the number#3 most senior person in the mission then steps up as the acting deputy chief of mission.  However, we have just been told that this is not true at all times.  Our correspondent told us that the ADCM position does not automatically go to the next most senior FSO — it’s still the ambassador’s or charge’s call. We stand corrected.  Occasionally,  we have also seen this duty rotated among several officers.

But here’s what’s kind of strange about the US Embassy in Luxembourg. There is nobody listed as DCM there, been like that for a while now — none, nada —  although there are two “executive assistants.” Are these executive assistants what we’d normally call in diplospeak as Office Management Specialists? 


The question is — who assume charge of the embassy when the ambassador is not at post? Do they flip a coin?

On a related note, this is not the only mission which caught our attention.

At the US Embassy in Finland, we note that the ambassador’s chef in Helsinki gets top billing on its website, next only to the ambassador there.  Much easier to find the cook’s name than the names of the key officers of the embassy.

 


At the US Embassy in Japan, the ambassador’s wife gets second billing after the ambassador and before the official number #2 person at the embassy. 

Okay … so what … so petty, who cares …. 

Um …so nothing, we’re just saying.

We’re kinda bored today, true — but we’re also kinda concerned on who gets to flip that coin in Luxembourg.

So hey — whatever happened to the DCM there?

* * *

Our correspondent above, also made note of the absence of an acting DCM.

 
As for no ADCM at all: I deliberately (and with the bureau’s knowledge) had no ADCM while serving as charge for nearly a year at a post where a thin bench meant pulling an officer from a section would have left that section itself without direction.  
 

However, that is not the reason why Luxembourg repeatedly had no DCM recently.  


Oh, the mystery thickens!


This post was updated @ 6:10 pm to add correspondent’s point on ADCM; added for clarification. Thank you T!







 


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US ConGen Karachi moves to New Consulate Compound …

NCC already overpopulated before completion

The US Consulate General in Karachi which faced numerous delays in the construction of its new consulate compound (NCC) due to difficulties with the customs clearances and other bureaucratic obstacles finally move to its new digs this past week.


Below is a photo of the staff as the American flag was lowered for the last time at the old Consulate building in Karachi, which was once a warehouse. According to the OIG: “The consulate general is currently operating out of what was once the consulate’s warehouse. To better ensure the safety of staff, the original consulate building was abandoned several years ago, and an extensive rehabilitation of a temporary location in a more secure portion of the compound was undertaken, pending the construction of the NCC in a different part of Karachi. The original consulate building is now used as setback between the temporary office building and a major road. The facilities maintenance staff has done an admirable job of converting the temporary office building into a user-friendly, comfortable working space, despite the fact that the building was never intended to be used for offices and has insufficient space for operations.”

TSB at The Skeptical Bureaucrat has posted the scars and long history of the old consulate building in an Obituary For A Consulate Office Building. Read it here.

Old consulate building in Karachi
Photo from US CG Karachi/Facebook

So they said goodbye to that one and move into this one, a new consulate compound planned in 2006 long before Pakistan became front and center in the administration’s foreign policy agenda.

Flag ceremony at US ConGen Karachi’s New Consulate Compound
Photo from US CG Karachi/Facebook

Last year, the OIG noted that the 2006 plans for the NCC did not anticipate the explosive growth that Karachi faced. We understand that by next fiscal year, Karachi will increase from 33 to 55 U.S. direct-hire positions and from 170 to 191 LE staff. Also from the OIG: “USAID is proposing to send 19 additional employees to Karachi to support a high-profile foreign assistance agenda. A number of other agencies are also looking to expand their presence in Karachi. The consulate estimates that it will require an additional 24 desks and 28 residential housing units by the time the new facility opens. In short, the NCC has become overpopulated before completion.”

So there, you just got a new NCC and it’s already crowded beyond capacity.  We do not envy you guys for your brand new headache. 


Indian diplomat in UK accused of wife-beating recalled for causing embarrassment …

… recall order includes return of family including wife allegedly beaten in the incident

Doesn’t look real good from our perch.

This news has been in the UK and Indian news cycle for the last couple of weeks. A senior Indian diplomat assigned to the UK was accused of hitting his wife. The neighbors reportedly called the police but no arrest was made as the diplomat claimed diplomatic immunity. More below:

On January 16/ New Delhi/London, IANS reported:

India’s chief trade diplomat in Britain Anil Verma is being transferred back after the external affairs ministry decided that allegations of him beating his wife were ‘causing embarrassment’ and hurting the image of the country.

‘The (external affairs) ministry has taken a serious view of the allegations, which are causing embarrassment to the country,’ a source in the external affair ministry said in New Delhi.

Verma, the third senior-most Indian diplomat and minister (economic) at India’s high commission, had reportedly sought immunity from prosecution after being questioned by British police over claims that he assaulted his wife in December last year.
[…]
According to a media report Sunday, Verma’s wife has gone into hiding with the couple’s five-year-old son, fearing for her safety. Paromita Verma was quoted as saying she is living in fear of her life and has applied for leave to remain in Britain on humanitarian grounds, the Daily Mail reported.

Paromita is now separated from her husband after moving out of their home amid fears that she would be forcibly taken back to India. Verma is alleged to have attacked his wife after a heated argument. Officers questioned Verma but were powerless to arrest him because of his diplomatic status.

Read more here and here.

On January 17, Telegraph India reported:

Verma’s colleagues appear sad that “a first class officer” is being recalled but admit they don’t know what was happening inside his marriage.

“Upper class Indian women have money and can walk out; working class women hit back; it’s middle class women who are still vulnerable,” a professional Indian woman commented.

One suggestion is the conflict should be resolved in a court of law in India. The British view is Verma has a case to answer.

At the request of the police, the foreign office had urged the Indian high commission to waive Verma’s diplomatic immunity so that he could be questioned further. “In addition, foreign office officials met high commission officials in London, while British diplomats in Delhi held talks with the external affairs ministry,” said a foreign office spokesperson.

A source in Delhi said Verma would be sent back to his parent cadre. “The (external affairs) ministry has taken a serious view of the issue, which is causing embarrassment to the country.”

Apparently, Indian officials in the UK refused to waive Mr Verma’s immunity despite Foreign Office requests.

On January 19, the Telegraph reports that the diplomat’s recall covers the whole family; that the wife has also been ordered to return with a promise of action under Indian laws: 

Paromita Verma is being asked by the external affairs ministry in Delhi to return to India with her diplomat husband, Anil Verma, who is being recalled from London after it was alleged he had assaulted his wife in the course of a domestic dispute.

Whether Paromita chooses to return at this point remains to be seen.

But in a statement, the high commission in London said: “The high commission has been informed that a decision has been taken by the government of India to transfer Mr Anil Verma and his family to India.”

Apart from Anil and Paromita — he is from Bihar, she is Bengali — the family is thought to consist of their five-year-old son, and another son of 19 believed to be from Paromita’s first marriage. It is unclear whether Paromita’s mother came with the Vermas or is attached to her relatives resident in the UK.

“The high commission has been asked to make necessary arrangements for Mr Verma and his family members to return to India at the earliest,” the statement went on.

It added: “The high commission has further sought assistance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to facilitate their early return.”
[…]
The keys at the Verma marital home in north London had been changed apparently to prevent her from entering the house.

On the same day, a counter claim appears in the Times of India that the diplomat was attacked by the wife first. 

The recalled Indian diplomat accused of beating his wife and giving her a bloody nose has claimed that he was attacked by her during a tiff over keeping a Christmas tree in their London home, said a source close to the diplomat.

“There was no fracture, no stitches were required and there was no scar,” the source said. This has been corroborated by a medical report with the Indian High Commission.

The source quoted Verma as saying, “I tried to move her away and involuntarily my arm landed on her face. It was not deliberate, it was not premeditated.” For the next three weeks, the Vermas lived under the same roof but there was much hostility, the source said. They even discussed and agreed to visit a marriage counsellor.

Read more here:

We do not know the details of this case except for what we’ve read on the papers, but the reported response is troubling and underscores once more the perilous situation of a diplomatic spouse.  It seems notable that the diplomat was recalled for ‘causing embarrassment’ and “hurting the image of the country” and not for the allegation of domestic violence.

Update @6:25 pm: The Indian High Commission has now released a press statement detailing the sequence of events on the incident involving the diplomat, Anil Verma and his wife. You can read it here via NDTV.

We are bothered to read a comment such as “There was no fracture, no stitches were required and there was no scar.”

Well, what’s a little blood, right? Excuse us, we need to visit the vomitorium now.

In 2005, a UN report said that around two-third of married women in India were victims of domestic violence and one incident of violence translates into women losing seven working days in the country.  Not only that, as many as 70 per cent of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are apparently victims of beating, rape or coerced sex, the United Nation Population Fund report. Express India which covered the report helpfully points out that the rate of domestic violence is much higher in Egypt with 94 per cent and Zambia with 91 per cent.

The State Department’s 2009 Human Rights Report indicates that domestic violence remains a significant problem in India.

In the United States, more than three women a day on average are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. According to a study by the USDOJ, women are also much more likely than men to be victimized by a current or former intimate partner. Women are 84 percent of spouse abuse victims and 86 percent of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend and about three-fourths of the persons who commit family violence are male.

Learn more:

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 TTY, or
www.ndvh.org

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

www.ncadv.org

Family Violence Prevention Fund
www.endabuse.org

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