African Diplomat Used Slave on U.S. Soil for Years

The African nation of Tanzania was finally held accountable for allowing a diplomat who enslaved an African woman on U.S. soil to return home. 

The diplomat had reportedly been operating at high levels of government. Alan Mzengi was found to be liable for a $1 million civil judgement for forcing a young woman to live and work against her will as a domestic servant on U.S. soil. The judgement came in 2008 after the woman escaped from four years of slavery. She had been kept against her will by the diplomat and forced to be a domestic servant for no pay.

The diplomat fled back to Tanzania in order to avoid consequences for forcibly enslaving the African woman. The Tanzanian president then allowed the slave “owner” to function as an advisor and suffer no legal consequence at home, according to the Washington Post.

Court documents reveal the diplomat asserted that he could not be held responsible because he “is a diplomat credited to the Republic of Tanzania” and that he was “immune to judgement under the Vienna Convention.”

The victim in the case refused any additional money other than back wages for the time she was forced to work for the diplomat, according to court documents.

The government of Tanzania largely ignored the issue and refused to pay the damages demanded by the U.S. civil court. The country changed its policy when Washington Post’s Dana Milbank began writing on the matter and critiquing an upcoming visit by Barack Obama to Tanzania over the issue. 

Allegations of foreign diplomats using slaves as house servants on U.S. soil have also surfaced against Saudi Arabia.

Photo: Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania in Washington, DC. Steve Fernie/Flickr


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