While located in buildings on American soil, foreign consulates are in many ways outposts of their home countries, with customs and practices to match.
But slavery? That's outlawed everywhere, as two people working at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco were told in federal court last week.
A worker at the consulate and his wife are accused of holding a Brazilian woman against her will and working her as their slave in their Marina District home, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
Giuseppe Penzato, 55, and his wife, Kesia Penzato, 33, were arrested last week and charged with forced labor in United States court. According to ICE, the couple lured the woman to the United States in 2009 to work as a domestic servant.
Once the unidentified woman arrived, the couple failed to pay her, seized her passport, controlled when she could come and go from their home, and physically and verbally abused her, according to the newspaper.
The couple were scheduled to appear in court again today where they will answer the charges, which are "all lies," according to an unidentified person who works at the consulate whom the Examiner interviewed via telephone on Tuesday.
Penzato is "a really, really good person," the consulate employee said. But really, really good to work for?