Authorities cannot arrest a man accused of beating his wife due to the immunity laws standing in their way.
Joachim Haubrichs, 56, is part of Germany’s permanent mission to the United Nations. He lives in New York City’s Upper East Side with Henna Johnson, 35, his wife of 16 years.
Johnson called the police on Monday night and said Haubrichs had hit her, leaving her with a black eye and bruising at the back of her head.
She said he got angry because she was using her phone at 7:30 pm and he requires her to cease communications by that time.
But the NYPD has been left powerless as Haubrichs, who is accused of keeping a tyrannical grip on his wife’s life, benefits from diplomatic immunity.
‘He’s very controlling. At 7:30 pm the cell phone should be off.
I’m not supposed to talk to anyone. Then 8:30 pm. is bedtime. Whether I like it or not, I have to be in bed,’ Johnson told the New York Post Wednesday.
Haubrichs, whose full job title is assistant attache to Germany’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, said he didn’t remember anything the following morning and was very apologetic, according to Johnson.
The couple met in Pakistan, where Johnson is from, while Haubrichs was working at the country’s German embassy.
They don’t have any children and have moved around the world several times.
Haubrichs and Johnson arrived to the United States a bit more than a year ago.
Johnson said she was texting a Friend when Haubrichs lashed out on Monday evening.
‘He said, ‘It’s already 7:30.’ I said, ‘Give me a little time. Give me a minute or two, I’ll finish up,’ Johnson said.
‘But because he’s so jealous, he starts screaming. I sat on the couch, he started throwing pillows. That made things worse.’
The couple went into their bedroom. There, Johnson said, her husband hit her ‘against the wall’ and she hit her head.
But NYPD officers have said they cannot investigate Haubrichs, who as a diplomat benefits from immunity.
In no situation is it acceptable to apprehend someone who, like Haubrichs, as diplomatic immunity, an NYPD spokesperson told the New York Post.
All they could do was offer to take Johnson to a hotel or to get her medical attention. She declined both offers.
Johnson has since been in touch with the NYPD and with Mayor Bill De Blasio’s office. She said the mayor’s office has urged her to reach out to a shelter for victims of domestic violence – an option she has declined.
Countries of diplomats can lift the diplomats’ immunity in certain cases – but it seems unlikely that this would happen in a domestic violence case.
‘The waiving of diplomatic immunity typically occurs in cases of serious felony crimes such as murder, rape or certain federal crimes involving terrorism or major financial fraud-related matters,’ lawyer Brian Bieber told the New York Post.
But according to a State Department spokesman, the United States could require Haubrichs to leave the country if his immunity is not waived.