A press statement coming from the office of the prime minister on Tuesday December 29, 2015 acknowledges that the government of Saint Lucia has been asked by the UK government to waive diplomatic immunity of Dr. Walid Juffali. The government here, however, has not indicated whether it will acquiesce to the request.

“The Government of Saint Lucia confirms that it has received a request from Mr. Julian Evans of the Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to grant a waiver of the diplomatic immunity of Dr. Walid Ahmed Juffali, the Saint Lucian Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation in the United Kingdom, to answer a claim for additional financial relief in the High Court in London from his ex-wife, whom he had divorced in Saudi Arabia,” the press statement commences. Further: “The Protocol Directorate says that the request was made after it received correspondence from the legal firm representing the ex-wife of Dr. Juffali, Hughes Fowler Carruthers.”

There has been no word coming from Saint Lucia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste on the Juffali affair. Has he been gagged by the prime minister?

According to the release, the office of the prime minister first became aware of the request in two articles published in two British Newspapers on December 27, 2015, The Mail On Sunday and The Telegraph. “The Government of Saint Lucia has always stated that it would not respond to requests from private lawyers to lift the immunity of Dr. Juffali or any of its diplomats as such requests can only come from the receiving state where the diplomat is based.

To do otherwise would be to expose our diplomats, wherever they are assigned, to the whims of private lawyers,” the statement went on to say. “However, matters of this nature are governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961. Both Saint Lucia and the Government of the United Kingdom are signatories to the Convention, and are bound by its provisions, procedures and conventions, “ the statement goes on to add.

The release ends: “Saint Lucia enjoys close political and diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom and will, therefore, follow the well established diplomatic channels to address this matter while protecting its integrity as a sovereign state”. The claim for additional relief by Dr. Juffali’s ex-wife will be heard in the High Court in London from January 18-22, 2016.

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