Saudi Is St. Lucia’s Diplomat at I.M.O. But It Will Not Waive His Immunity To Testify In Divorce Suit.
THE Saint Lucia government says it will not lift diplomatic immunity that it granted to a Saudi Arabian billionaire to compel him to testify in a divorce case in London.
The government also confirmed reports in the British press that Dr. WalidJuffali was in fact Saint Lucia’s Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The government statement came amid what it said were “concerns” that arose in the wake of a story in the Telegraph newspaper.
News of Dr. Juffali’s association with St Lucia was contained in a Telegraph reported dated Monday. (See full story on Page 6) But yesterday, for the very first time, the government issued a press release giving details of Dr. Juffali’s association with Saint Lucia and various activities in which he was engaged on behalf of the island.
As for Juffali’s divorce trial, the government said to lift his diplomatic immunity would create a precedent that could compromise current and future diplomatic personnel in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
The Government said it had noted “the concerns of individuals” in response to the story carried in the Telegraph.
It said Dr. Juffali was appointed in April 2014 as Saint Lucia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO, based in London, describing him as “a highly successful philanthropist and businessman”. His record was public and well-known, and he had received a number of prestigious awards, including: Knight of the Order of Dannebrog – bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Margarethe II of Denmark; Knight of the Cedars – bestowed by the President of Lebanon; and Knight of Saint Sylvester – bestowed by His Holiness Pope Benedict XV.
Said the government statement: “Dr. Juffali and his family have a long tradition of serving other countries in diplomatic postings. Dr. Juffali is also the Honorary Counsel of Denmark in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His brother serves as the Honorary Counsel of Switzerland in Jeddah. His daughter serves as the Saint Lucia Honorary Counsel in Saudi Arabia.
“The appointment of Dr. Juffali is consistent with the efforts of the Government to appoint trade and investment envoys to assist in the promotion of Saint Lucia and to attract investment.
“The current issue centres around a divorce case involving Dr. Juffali and his former wife. The parties were formally divorced in Saudi Arabia but the former wife decided to launch civil proceedings against her former husband in the United Kingdom seeking additional relief. The lawyers for the former wife of Dr. Juffali have requested the Government of Saint Lucia to lift the diplomatic immunity of Dr. Juffali to compel Dr. Juffali to testify in the civil suit.
“The Government of Saint Lucia has expressed the view to the lawyers of the former wife that this is a civil matter in which it does not desire to get involved. In the view of the Government, this is a private matter and to waive Dr. Juffali’s immunity for the purposes of resolving property disputes arising out of divorce proceedings will create a precedent that could compromise current and future diplomatic personnel in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
“To date, Dr. Juffali has conducted his duties to the highest expectations of the Government of Saint Lucia. In addition to advancing the goals of Saint Lucia in the IMO and sourcing investment for Saint Lucia, Dr. Juffali has initiated his first major project for Saint Lucia – the establishment of a medical research industry. This project was announced in the Throne Speech of 2015 and the legislative framework for establishing such an industry is currently being reviewed by the Attorney General’s Chambers in preparation for enactment. Dr. Juffali’s contacts and influence will be major factors in ensuring success of this initiative.
“Dr. Juffali’s second project has been to investigate the establishment of a Global Diabetes Research Centre in Saint Lucia in response to the chronic levels of diabetes in the country. A detailed multidisciplinary investigation has been conducted by some of the world’s leading researchers in diabetes, science and medical business to design a model for the Centre. Numerous meetings were held with clinicians, nurses, and other medical personnel during the months of August and September. A final report will be issued in December with necessary announcements on the way forward to be made in January 2016.
“The Government of Saint Lucia assures the public that all necessary due diligence was done prior to the appointment of Dr. Juffali and is satisfied that he is eminently suited to perform his diplomatic duties on behalf of the Government and people of Saint Lucia”.