THE St Lucia government says it is surprised by a ruling of a British judge questioning the legitimacy of the appointment of a Saudi Arabian billionaire facing a divorce suit in London as the island’s representative at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The decision of the Court this week, gave WalidJuffali’sex wife Christina Estrada the right to pursue her divorce suit against her former husband in the courts
In a statement yesterday, the Government of Saint Lucia re-affirmed its view that the United Kingdom (UK) court proceedings concerning the application by Estrada for permission to apply for financial relief from Juffali after their divorce is a private family matter between Dr.Juffali and his former wife, and had no bearing on his duties as Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
It added: “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 and 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”.