UK gov­ern­ment wants Juf­fali im­mu­nity lifted!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

How sad that a politi­cian elected to our high­est of­fice on the prom­ise of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity should to­day be widely per­ceived as one of the re­gion’s most se­cre­tive fig­ures, ac­count­able only to him­self. How ironic, not to say coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, that this in­di­vid­ual so many had counted on to epit­o­mize the count­less virtues of good gov­er­nance is per­haps best known for his con­tri­bu­tions to in­ter­na­tional con­tro­ver­sies in­volv­ing some of the most de­spised char­ac­ters on the in­ter­net, some no­to­ri­ous en­e­mies of democ­racy as we know and ap­pre­ci­ate it, oth­ers with hard-to-pro­nounce Mid­dle East­ern sound­ing names.

Our cur­rent leader of gov­ern­ment ini­tially took of­fice at a time when our coun­try had for sev­eral years been reel­ing from the re­tard­ing con­se­quences of of­fi­cial ar­ro­gance; when pub­lic of­fi­cers con­sid­ered them­selves sev­eral cuts above both their elec­tors and the law—and cab­i­net col­leagues dared not ex­press views con­trary to their prime min­is­ter’s. In 1996 I hap­pily joined oth­ers sim­i­larly fed up as I was with the sta­tus quo. We had de­cided, re­gard­less of per­sonal cost, to bring about pos­i­tive last­ing change. Our dream con­sen­sus was that it wouldn’t be enough merely to clean out and fu­mi­gate the sta­bles. To guar­an­tee what we sought would de­mand new think­ing and re­spect for the peo­ple’s con­sti­tu­tional rights— es­pe­cially self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.

The throne speech that the newly in­stalled prime min­is­ter placed in the shaky hands of the gov­er­nor gen­eral in 1997 of­fered hope for the fu­ture we had en­vis­aged when we placed at Kenny An­thony’s dis­posal six­teen of our par­lia­ment’s seven­teen seats. With the sole op­po­si­tion mem­ber hos­pi­tal­ized with a ter­mi­nal dis­ease, the prime min­is­ter ef­fec­tively was monarch of all he sur­veyed, pre­cisely what the vast ma­jor­ity had voted for. Re­al­ity found us early, only to be de­nied.

Too late we would painfully ac­knowl­edge what Ge­orge Mal­let had du­ti­fully served us shortly af­ter the May 1997 gen­eral elec­tions, what most of us had mind­lessly gob­bled up—yes, let this also be recorded—was ac­tu­ally the first dose of a hon­ey­coated mix of self-im­por­tance, vin­dic­tive­ness, nepo­tism and hypocrisy pre­pared by the newly elected chief cook—a poi­sonous pot­pourri that guar­an­teed the slow death of our na­tion’s bat­tered soul. At any rate, that ren­dered it numb.

We started to die at the time of the He­len Air dis­as­ter. But even as that episode was shock­ingly un­fold­ing, other mon­sters were be­ing hatched, al­beit un­known to all save their cre­ator. Rochamel be­gat Fren­well, to say noth­ing of the “lapses and in­fe­lic­i­ties” as­so­ci­ated with the NCA con­tro­versy, the He­len­ites fi­asco in New York, the curious em­brac­ing of Gil­bert Chagoury—not nec­es­sar­ily in that se­quence. Our once revered in­sti­tu­tions, the col­lec­tive church and its ec­u­meni­cal Chris­tian Coun­cil, our jus­tice sys­tem, our po­lice, all seemed to with­draw into some self-pro­tec­tive co­coon, sel­dom seen or heard.

Nev­er­the­less, to nearly ev­ery­one’s sur­prise the na­tion woke up one 2005 morn­ing to the naked­ness of its em­peror and re­moved him from of­fice. Alas, it seemed his re­place­ment wished for noth­ing more than the em­peror’s re­turn fol­low­ing his de­clared stint in “pur­ga­tory.” For his own part the pu­ri­fied em­peror, now ev­i­dently at­tired in hu­mil­ity and re­morse, an­nounced he was ready once again to lead. And the peo­ple took him at his word. His first move on re­gain­ing of­fice was to pro­vide the an­swer to all their prob­lems: a vat full of what ear­lier he had de­clared a killer of the poor and al­to­gether an­ti­worker. Dur­ing his pur­ga­to­rial so­journ, he said, he had many vi­sions, among them “a hit list” that spoke of fa­tal po­lice shoot­ings of “twelve in­di­vid­u­als deemed to be crim­i­nals.” How the U.S. State Depart­ment got wind of this re­mains un­clear. But no sooner had the prime min­is­ter re­sumed of­fice in 2011 than the Amer­i­can au­thor­i­ties started de­mand­ing le­gal ac­tion against the of­fi­cers who had com­mit­ted such a “gross vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights”—or else.

As only too well we know, the ear­lier cited pur­ga­to­rial vi­sions had re­sulted in IMPACS. Which be­gat a whole new maze of po­lice-re­lated prob­lems, the alien­ation of the DPP’s of­fice, and a largely un­em­ployed coun­try over­whelmed by homi­cides, sui­cides, rapes and ram­pant child abuse, some of the lit­tle vic­tims not yet eight years old. Mean­while, the Amer­i­cans had cut off the funds that once had kept the po­lice force afloat. The US gov­ern­ment also de­nied lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers fur­ther train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, even when held in Saint Lucia. Some of­fi­cers were banned from set­ting foot on US soil.

Eight months af­ter IMPACS, with the is­land’s po­lice com­mis­sioner pres­sured un­der an un­bear­able bur­den of al­le­ga­tions to re­tire pre­ma­turely, and his of­fi­cers ac­cus­ing one an­other of rat­ting on their col­leagues in re­turn for pro­mo­tions, the DPP an­nounced pub­licly that she had seen noth­ing in the re­port pre­sented her by the gov­ern­ment that could be con­sid­ered ev­i­dence sup­port­ive of the prime min­is­ter’s pub­lic state­ments in re­la­tion to

the in­ves­ti­ga­tion he had ini­ti­ated, fol­low­ing reg­u­lar in­quests that did not de­liver what the US had an­tic­i­pated.

Mean­while the prime min­is­ter con­tin­ued to pre­tend he was judge, jury and ex­e­cu­tioner—and ac­cuser, some said. Shortly be­fore Christ­mas, by which time the EU had joined the US gov­ern­ment’s per­sis­tent de­mands for “due process in keep­ing with the laws of Saint Lucia,” the prime min­is­ter yet again pub­licly de­clared the po­lice “in de­nial” and un­will­ing to ac­knowl­edge the wrongs they had com­mit­ted.

And now comes more bad news: the UK gov­ern­ment has writ­ten to the of­fice of the Saint Lucia High Com­mis­sion in Lon­don re­quest­ing it grant a waiver of the diplo­matic im­mu­nity that pro­tects the Saudi multi-bil­lion­aire Walid Juf­fali—Saint Lucia’s diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the In­ter­na­tional Marine Or­ga­ni­za­tion (un­til re­cently a state se­cret)—from any court ac­tion by his for­mer wife. (See full story by Si­mon Ca­ble, on page 9, that ap­peared in the Mail on Sun­day.) Fol­low­ing re­cent rev­e­la­tions at home and abroad, the prime min­is­ter pub­licly an­nounced his re­fusal to waive Juf­fali’s im­mu­nity, on the ba­sis that to do oth­er­wise would be in­ter­fer­ing in the Saudi’s per­sonal af­fairs.

He also claimed that be­fore Juf­fali was ap­pointed our rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the IMO he was sub­jected to metic­u­lous in­ves­ti­ga­tion by re­spected bod­ies in­clud­ing the UK gov­ern­ment. More­over, that the bil­lion­aire Saudi had a year ago promised to build a diabetes re­search cen­ter here, quite pos­si­bly in Vieux Fort. Re­cently the UK au­thor­i­ties de­nied all claims they had con­ducted any spe­cial due dili­gence with re­spect to Juf­fali and his ap­point­ment as this is­land’s IMO rep­re­sen­ta­tive. It re­mains to be seen whether the su­per rich Walid Juf­fali is worth more to our prime min­is­ter than the United States, the EU and the UK com­bined are to Saint Lucia.

Kenny An­thony has un­til his 65th birth­day on 8 Jan­uary 2016 to de­cide!

Dr. Walid Juf­fali: Will the bil­lion­aire Saudi de­liver to Saint Lucia the love gift he promised Kenny An­thony over a year ago, when he was se­cretly ap­pointed the

is­land’s diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion?

Dr. Ernest Hi­laire: By all he has said pub­licly, his faith in Walid Juf­fali re­mains strong!

Dr. Kenny An­thony: Con­sid­er­ing the lat­est devel­op­ments, will the prime min­is­ter treat the Juf­fali is­sue as he did the re­ported “gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights”

al­legedly com­mit­ted by lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers?

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