An Unfortunate Precedent

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.

Walid Juffali with his former wife Christina Estrada at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 Photo: Alan Davidson

Walid Juffali with his former wife Christina Estrada at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 Photo: Alan Davidson

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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