CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The government of Saint Lucia has informed Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that it intends to uphold the principle of diplomatic immunity by allowing its permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to invoke his diplomatic immunity in a civil case brought by his ex-wife in the United Kingdom.
The government advised the FCO of its position last Friday, after it received a letter from the FCO requesting the government of Saint Lucia to lift the immunity of Saudi billionaire Dr Walid Juffali.
Subsequent to the receipt of the letter, the representative of the government of Saint Lucia, along with its attorney, met with FCO officials to discuss the matter.
The government of Saint Lucia said it has been assured by the FCO that Juffali has not abused the privileges and immunities afforded to him, nor is the decision of the government of Saint Lucia to uphold the principle of diplomatic immunity an abuse of these privileges or immunities in any way.
“While the government of Saint Lucia fully respects the decision of the FCO 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,” a release from the Prime Minister’s Office stated.
The government of Saint Lucia explained that, based on all legal advice and precedence established in international diplomatic practice, the principle of diplomatic immunity must be safeguarded and should only be lifted in exceptional cases. Further, it must be a decision of the sending state, in this case Saint Lucia.
The government of Saint Lucia said it is clear that, based on the legal advice it received and diplomatic practice in such matters, this case does not warrant the lifting of the Juffali’s immunity. The government of Saint Lucia noted, in particular, that no precedent could be cited to show that such a request had been acceded to in the past.
The government of Saint Lucia has therefore maintained its position that the parties should be allowed to settle their matrimonial dispute through negotiations and, failing that, the courts should decide if immunity can be waived in this matter.
According to London’s Daily Telegraph, Juffali’s name first appeared on the Diplomatic List in September 2014 as Saint Lucia’s permanent representative to the IMO.
However, there is no public record of Juffali attending any meetings of the IMO, nor does he possess any known qualifications in maritime law. The Saint Lucia government declined to say how many hours per week he spent at the country’s High Commission in London.
He chairs the Juffali Group, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, and also holds a doctorate in neuro-science from Imperial College London.