IN the editorial of our first publication of the year we wrote the following: “Who is the intended beneficiary of this sham [referring to the appointment of WalidJuffali as St. Lucia’s permanent representative to the IMO] is yet to be defined. Clearly, the issue of diplomatic immunity for Mr.Juffali allowing him to resist a claim by his ex-wife has benefitted Mr.Juffali. Is there a quid pro quo, as one would expect in any bargain. Has St. Lucia benefitted? And if so, how?”
As has become the norm with the government, no answer has been forthcoming. The arrogance of the government in their presumption of the ignorance of the people they govern is becoming legendary.
Since January 2, 2016, three events of significance (at least) have taken place in the sorry saga of Juffali.
First, the Government of the United Kingdom requested the Government of Saint Lucia to waive the diplomatic immunity of Juffali to permit his ex-wife to have the issue of a disputed settlement resolved by the English Courts.
Secondly, the Government of Saint Lucia refused the request of the UK Government. In part the response of the Saint Lucia Government stated “While the Government of Saint Lucia fully respects the decision of the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] to make such a request, it is not satisfied, based on its own examination of the facts, that a compelling case has been made out to grant a waiver of the diplomatic immunity of Dr.Juffali”.
The Government offered as a reason for not acceding to the UK request that “the Government of Saint Lucia has noted, in particular, that no precedent could be cited to show that such a request had been acceded to in the past.”
Clearly if a comparable situation has not arisen in the past, then there could be no precedent of either acceding to or refusing such a request.
The third event of significance is that the judge of the English High Court before whom the dispute over the settlement has come has ordered the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Phillip Hammond, to certify whether Juffali has been accepted by Britain as a Caribbean diplomat representing St Lucia. This will force the British Government to make what may well be an uncomfortable choice: accept that the sham diplomatic appointment has succeeded in its purpose of shielding Juffali from the jurisdiction of the UK courts, or, to declare that a sham diplomatic appointment such as Juffali’s cannot be the basis of diplomatic immunity.
In another part of this edition we publish a story recalling the removal of the right of visa-free travel to Canada from citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis. The Government of Saint Lucia would do well to be extremely cautious in how the Juffali affair is handled lest the privilege of St. Lucians to travel to the United Kingdom without first having to obtain a visa is thrown away on the altar of a man who is not Saint Lucian, has done nothing for Saint Lucia and for whom the removal of the privilege of visa free travel for the ordinary Saint Lucia would mean little.
We end as we started: “Who is the intended beneficiary of this sham is yet to be defined. Clearly, the issue of diplomatic immunity for Mr.Juffali allowing him to resist a claim by his ex-wife has benefitted Mr.Juffali. Is there a quid pro quo, as one would expect in any bargain. Has St. Lucia benefitted? And if so, how?”
Mr.Juffali has got his quid, who has got the quo?