AN UN­FOR­TU­NATE PRECE­DENT

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

The Govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia re-af­firms its view that the United King­dom (UK) court pro­ceed­ings con­cern­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion by Ms. Christina Estrada for per­mis­sion to ap­ply for fi­nan­cial re­lief from Dr. Walid Juf­fali af­ter their di­vorce is a pri­vate fam­ily mat­ter be­tween Dr. Juf­fali and his for­mer wife, and has no bear­ing on his du­ties as Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IMO).

While the Govern­ment has said in the past that it is for the courts to de­cide if diplo­matic im­mu­nity can be in­voked in this mat­ter, the Govern­ment is ex­tremely sur­prised by Mon­day’s judg­ment, and specif­i­cally by Mr. Jus­tice Hay­den’s com­ments about Dr. Juf­fali’s sta­tus as Saint Lu­cia’s Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the IMO. As a sov­er­eign state, it is Saint Lu­cia’s re­spon­si­bil­ity and sole right to de­cide who our diplo­matic rep­re­sen­ta­tives are or should be.

As we have stated be­fore, Dr. Juf­fali’s ap­point­ment fol­lowed full due process. His ac­cred­i­ta­tion as a diplo­mat was ap­proved by the IMO and was im­me­di­ately recog­nised and con­firmed by the host­ing na­tion - the UK. Nei­ther the IMO, nor the UK For­eign & Com­mon­wealth Of­fice, raised any con­cerns about the ap­point­ment. Dr. Juf­fali was im­me­di­ately added to the pub­licly-avail­able Diplo­matic List, thereby con­firm­ing his diplo­matic sta­tus and en­ti­tle­ment to full diplo­matic im­mu­nity

The Govern­ment re­mains of the view that to have waived Dr. Juf­fali’s diplo­matic im­mu­nity for the pur­poses of re­solv­ing prop­erty dis­putes aris­ing out of di­vorce pro­ceed­ings would have cre­ated a prece­dent that could com­pro­mise cur­rent and fu­ture Saint Lu­cian di­plo­mats in the United King­dom and else­where. In­deed, if Jus­tice Hay­den’s judg­ment on diplo­matic im­mu­nity is al­lowed to stand, it will have se­ri­ous reper­cus­sions for the en­tire diplo­matic com­mu­nity in the United King­dom.

The Govern­ment un­der­stands that Dr. Juf­fali will be ap­peal­ing Mon­day’s judg­ment. We can­not there­fore com­ment in more de­tail un­til we know the out­come of the ap­peal, but will do so in due course.

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