Prime Minister Doctor Kenny Anthony has said that the decision not to waive Doctor Walid Juffali’s diplomatic immunity was not an easy one.
However in his New Year’s address to the nation last night, Anthony defended the decision to refuse the request made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
The FCO wanted Juffali’s diplomatic immunity as this country’s representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) waived, in an application by his ex-wife to seek further and additional relief.
Anthony said he knew that Saint Lucia’s stand has caused concern in some quarters, given this country’s close historical ties with the United Kingdom.
However he observed that the FCO’s request was unprecedented, as it was made on behalf of a private citizen.
“Normally, such requests are made on behalf of the state, in instances where the state has a defined interest of its own,” Anthony asserted.
He told the nation that the FCO could not point to a single instance where a foreign Government had ever acceded to such a request.
The Prime Minister said:
“While we respected the right of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to establish its own threshold to entertain such requests, we did not believe that the threshold which they had established had been met in this instance.”
Anthony also declared that to have acceded to the FCO’s request would have set a “dangerous” precedent and place other States at risk by force of the precedent.
“We have a responsibility to protect our diplomats, except where they commit criminal offences or acts which are outrageous and unprecedented in nature and character,” the Prime Minister said during his address.
“It was not an easy decision to make given the pressures involved but we must always seek to do what we believe to be right even if we are alone,” Anthony declared.
He expressed confidence that the motives of those who sought to compromise, tarnish and impugn the reputation of the Government and this country will be exposed wherever they may be.