Much ado about a Diplomatic nothing

Much ado about a Diplomatic nothing

THE ORANGE BANNER – By Earl Stephen Huntley

Two weeks ago, St. Lucians were surprised by a report from a London tabloid, The Daily Telegraph (November 9 2015) that one of its diplomats, its representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, a certain Saudi billionaire called Dr Wallid Juffali, was using his diplomatic immunity to shield himself from a lawsuit by an ex-wife whom he divorced last year and who was seeking greater financial compensation from his properties in England.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the legal immunity, which Dr. Juffali possesses as a St. Lucian diplomat was preventing his ex-wife, Christina Estrada, from filing legal proceedings against him in London and that the Government of St. Lucia had declined to waive his diplomatic immunity so that she could do so.

Not surprisingly, the story generated media and political waves in St. Lucia because St. Lucians generally were unaware that Juffali  was a diplomatic representative for the country and in the current heat of electoral politics from  impending general elections, every act by government and political parties is a cause for controversy.

Consequently, opposition politicians, talk shows, social media and the political platforms have all been falling over themselves to comment about the London tabloid story on Dr.Juffali, his wife, his appointment by St. Lucia and his diplomatic immunity.

The Government of St. Lucia on 11th November 2015 issued a press release on the matter, saying in part:  “The lawyers for the former wife of Dr.Juffali have requested the government of St. Lucia to lift the diplomatic immunity of Dr.Juffali to finally compel Dr. Juffali to testify in the civil suit.

The Government of St. Lucia has expressed the view to the lawyers of the former wife that this is a civil matter in which it does not desire to get involved.  In the view of the government, this is a private matter and to waive Dr. Juffali’s immunity for the purposes of resolving property disputes arising out of divorce proceedings will create a precedent that could compromise current and future diplomatic personnel and elsewhere”.

It is not known whether Christina Estrada’s lawyers attempted to file proceedings against Dr. Juffali and were told by Dr. Juffali’s lawyers  that they could not and so they turned to the Government of St. Lucia; or if they were told by Government authorities in London  that his diplomatic immunity was a barrier to their objectives.

In the latter case, that would have been a very strange reply from the British who surely are well versed in diplomacy and should have responded differently; for if her lawyers had not approached the courts or the Foreign Office on the issue, then they, Juffali’s lawyers, the Daily Telegraph, commentators here and the St. Lucia Government have all displayed an ignorance of the practice of the diplomatic privileges and immunities.

The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations at Article 31 makes it clear that diplomatic immunity does not extend to all civil and administrative matters.  According to the Convention, a diplomat and members of his family forming part of his household, (provided they are not nationals or permanent residents of the host state) are immune from civil and administrative jurisdiction in the host state except in the case of:

  1.   a real action ( i.e.  an action to claim ownership or possession) relating to private immovable property situated in the host state, unless he holds it on behalf of the state he serves for the purpose of the mission;
  1.  an action relating to succession in which he is involved as an executor, administrator, heir or legatee as a private person and not on behalf of the state  he serves;
  1.  an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by him in the host state outside his official function.  This limitation applies in practice to his spouse and family.

Waiver of Diplomatic Immunity:  The immunity from jurisdiction of an individual entitled to such protection may be waived only by his government.  A waiver of immunity from civil or administrative proceedings does no more than allow the person concerned to stand trial; a second and specific waiver is required before the judgment can be put into effect.

In my view, according to this convention, Dr. Juffali does not possess diplomatic immunity when it comes to action by Christina Estrada to claim ownership of his private immovable property in the United Kingdom.

Consequently, St. Lucia cannot waive immunity for him in this case because it is not there to be waived.  In my humble opinion, this is a case of much ado about a diplomatic nothing.

Related Articles


  1. ahmed popo
    November 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm Reply

    Again opposition leadership is showing a complete lack of understanding concerning matters of governance, whether nationally or internationally.Opposition shows lack of leadership in resolving matters of interest for St.Lucia. Before tit- for- tat nonsense responses think wisely and say nothing foolish but give credit where credit is due.We are all Looshans.

  2. neg
    November 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm Reply

    The first comment seems very funny, the opposition cannot be faulted in any way by asking for information about how this dude represent us with we the people knowing . secondly they are right for considering and asking us to consider the impact that having a controversial diplomat have on the image of Helen.

  3. Observer
    November 28, 2015 at 9:24 pm Reply

    First comment is purely political. He would sell his county for the sake of party. But who wrote that article? is it Mr. Jack Grynberg

  4. Malcolm L'Overture
    November 29, 2015 at 8:04 pm Reply

    This is one appointment that St Lucia can do without. I Feel utterly revolted by the presence of this man making representations on behalf of this lovely island. Who sanctioned this appointment? What on earth were the powers that be thinking when they appointed this impertinent fellow to such a lofty position?

    This man hails from one of the most brutal kingdoms in the world. There are so many competent St Lucians out of work and who could so easily take up this diplomatic post. Instead they are being deliberately ignored in favour of a cantankerous outlander who knows nothing about this country.This appointment smacks of pure opportunism and nepotism and nothing else. He is in the process of divorcing his wife and it looks like this legal dissolution will be anything but amicable. The “wife” is planning to take him to the cleaners for all that he is worth – billions.

    So in order to avoid a settlement or palimony he finds himself a piece of juicy steak which he can tuck into. He was offered diplomatic immunity immediately as this comes with the territory. Now he can do as he pleases since he is accountable to no one. He has no affinity with the state of St Lucia, and his only affiliation is to secure his vested interests. He probably does not even know where St Lucia is on the map. This irascible character hails from a country that practices Wahhabism,, a virulent form of religious ideology that belongs to the dark ages. It is ultraconservative and fundamentalist to the core. It is being exported to countries such as Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia. One just has to look at the state of these countries to see how they have been fumigated by this extremist pseudo-Sunni movement. They have no respect for non believers and in their words”infidels” – They are willing to eradicate all kauffars or infidels from the face of this earth.

    The Saudis brutally enslaved our African cousins in the name of their religion.Black people in Saudi Arabia have no rights and are often seen as in the words of the Arabs”the lowest of the low”- Yet there are many misguided blacks following this religion which loathes and detests them. Karl Maxx, the philosopher once declared religion to be an opium of the masses. He believed that the general populace was being taken for granted by those with an unrelenting belief especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice. With the billions of petrodollars the Saudis have in their coffers they can easily afford to export their austere and stringent form of religious diatribe to the less fortunate around the globe. We in the Caribbean have to be on our guard at all times. We should not give these discontented Arabs any foot in any of our doors. All they need is a sniff and they will take advantage where opportunity lies.Give them an inch and they will take a mile.

    This appointment smacks of opportunism and nepotism. Many have concurred that this dubious character lacks the necessary skills and qualifications to do this job. To add further to St Lucia’s alarm his daughter was made ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Would Saudi Arabia have done the same? Would they have chosen a St Lucian to become their ambassador to St Lucia. NO is the simple answer. This family seems recklessly determined to buy their way into every aspect of St Lucian society. They have absolutely no compunction in doing so. They will use their largesse to bluff their way through and no one will ask questions. They will avoid scrutiny by simply embracing the cushion of diplomatic immunity.

    The Saudis do not like black people. They treat us with utter contempt and disdain. Their contempt and lack of respect for us blacks is legendary. A man who comes from a country which sent 11 attackers to blow up the world trade centre in New York should not be allowed anywhere near the confines of diplomatic postings hosting or handling for St Lucia. We should not allow any Saudi to come to brainwash our impressionable youths. Do we really believe that this man would have chosen St Lucia if he had another country to offer him such privileges? No sir! He is only offering his unbridled services because no one else in their right mind will take him on. Let us hope this does not backfire on the former diplomat who offered him the position in the first place. I heard that he has a desire to become prime minister one day. His judgement may well be called into question on this one.

    The malevolent and baleful Telegraph newspaper in London is getting in on the act with their pernicious reporting which is doing more harm to St Lucia’s reputation than good. This British broadsheet is full of closeted racists and fascists. They love to spread poison and propaganda as well as making up stories. I am imploring the powers that be to avoid giving this right wing rag any more fuel to keep the fire burning. The reporter who wrote this story from the Telegraph is anxious for another hit. He nicked this new angle from St Lucia News Online. Be careful with this mercenary. Stay well away from the likes of this rapacious and self-indulgent hack who has nothing positive to offer our splendid isle. Like Lord Invader said’if it’s people business you minding you not contributing one damn thing so Bare’.

    I am calling on the political establishment to revoke and rescind this diplomatic appointment with immediate effect. We do not want a crabby, sybaritic, debauched,intemperate interloper interfering in our internal or external affairs. Apart from oil Saudi Arabia has nothing to offer St Lucia or anyone. If anything we should trade with them…If they are not interested in trading with us we should find countries that are willing to. This whole affair is lopsided. There are no Lucians representing Saudi in anything. That being the case we should not allow their citizens to represent us in anything.Let’s nip this in the bud at the earliest possible convenience. Do it now. Send this mercenary packing with his oily tail between his legs. Wake up St Lucia and smell the cacao tea.

    Viva St Lucia The Land I Love and the land Of My Beautiful Mother.

    Malcolm L’Overture
    Haitian- Lucian
    Berlin Germany

Leave a Reply