Human Rights Advocate Speaks Out
ASaint Lucian human and gender rights advocate based in Barbados is reacting to the local government’s refusal to lift the diplomatic immunity granted to a Saudi Arabian billionaire in order for him to face a civil suit brought against him by his ex-wife.
Diplomatic immunity involves exemption from the enforcement of one or more laws of a host country granted to resident foreign diplomats. Its purpose is to ensure that the official duties of foreign ambassadors are not impeded.
But Ms. Felicia Browne remarks that although the rationale for diplomatic immunity has merit, its application as a means to undermine the International human rights of individuals or groups constitutes an abuse of power.
Browne points to Dr Walid Juffali’s case as one such example of a clear violation of Christina Estrada’s rights.
She is of the view that a major omission in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations agreement is that it was not designed to protect the rights of victims who may be affected by diplomatic immunity. Such victims typically belong to the most vulnerable groups, i.e., women and children, many of whom have little or no access to legal representation or redress.
Browne adds that there are known instances where many victims are left without compensation or retribution for the harms done against them, as in cases of human trafficking and migrant domestic workers. She says that although diplomatic immunity is recognized under International law, society must speak out when its application constitutes an abuse of power and undermines the rights of victims who do not enjoy diplomatic privileges.