UNICEF cannot rely on diplomatic immunity to avoid possible court battle
UNICEF cannot claim diplomatic immunity to avoid a high-profile court battle if Gerry Ryan's former partner pushes ahead with an unfair dismissal case.
There had been suggestions the charity may be able to invoke legal privileges because of its status as an agency of the United Nations after Melanie Verwoerd claimed she was sacked by email.
International treaties, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, confer certain immunities and privileges on the UN and its specialised agencies.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs last night confirmed that staff at the UNICEF children's aid agency do not enjoy diplomatic immunity.
However, a spokesman said it might try to claim privileges under international treaties that cover the UN and Red Cross, but these would have to be tested in law.
Ms Verwoerd is believed to be considering an unfair dismissal case after speaking of her deep shock after she was fired over a week ago. She claimed she lost her job because of the publicity her relationship with the deceased broadcaster had attracted.
Ms Verwoerd previously said the job had helped her cope after Mr Ryan was found dead at his apartment last year.
UNICEF has refused to make any comment on the case.