The Government of Saint Lucia welcomes the judgment from the United Kingdom Court of Appeal today, which is a clear endorsement of the Government of Saint Lucia’s position on the Juffali case.
The Government has consistently maintained, throughout these proceedings, that to have waived Dr. Juffali’s diplomatic immunity for the purposes of a divorce case would undoubtedly have created a dangerous precedent that could compromise current and future Saint Lucian diplomats in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Government’s view, which was based on international law and clear diplomatic precedent, has been forcefully reiterated by the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, the Rt. Hon. Phillip Hammond M.P. and upheld in today’s definitive judgement by the Court of Appeal.
In an unusual step, which demonstrates the serious flaws and dangerous ramifications of the High Court judgement earlier this year, the UK Foreign Office submitted an opinion from Tim Eicke QC, saying the judge had made a mistake in attempting to scrutinise Dr. Juffali’s diplomatic status. The Foreign Secretary added unequivocally that the High Court’s earlier ruling “should not be upheld or endorsed.”
In the evidence to the Court of Appeal, the Rt. Hon. Phillip Hammond M.P. said the “judge erred in concluding that it was necessary (or permissible) for the court to ‘look behind’ the Foreign and Commonwealth Office certificate, which confirmed that [Juffali] had been appointed to the post of permanent representative of St Lucia to the IMO [and to consider whether (he) had taken up the post or exercised any functions in connection with it].”
The senior cabinet minister, Mr. Hammond, argued that only the “executive (acting through the FCO) as part of the royal prerogative of conducting foreign relations” can decide to “accept (or not) a diplomat”. In response to the earlier judgment, the Foreign Office reiterated the Saint Lucian Government’s warning that diplomats could be hauled before the courts of any country in which they are serving and their position “scrutinised, and their status unjustifiably curtailed.”
The Saint Lucian Government has always stated that it is ultimately for the court to decide whether a foreign diplomat in the UK enjoys immunity in any particular case. Today’s Court of Appeal judgment acknowledges that Juffali’s accreditation as a diplomat was without a doubt legitimate. It acknowledged that “if a question arises in any proceedings before the English courts as to whether a person is entitled to any privilege or immunity, a certificate issued under the authority of the Secretary of State stating any fact relating to that question shall be conclusive evidence of that fact.”
The Government of Saint Lucia considers this a conclusive finding on the matter. While today’s judgment found Dr. Juffali to be a permanent resident of the UK enabling his ex-wife to progress with her claim, it made clear that there was no question of his diplomatic appointment. This Government has, and will always, follow full due process in the appointment of Saint Lucia’s diplomatic representatives. The appointment of Dr. Juffali as Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) was no different. Dr. Juffali is an experienced diplomat and honorary consul to Denmark. His accreditation as a diplomat was approved by the IMO and was immediately recognised and confirmed by the hosting nation – the UK. At no stage did the IMO, or the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, raise any concerns about the appointment.
This court case has always been a private family matter between Dr. Juffali and his former wife. The UWP insistence on turning this issue into a media circus is yet another example of their divisive and damaging attempts to propel themselves into power by any means necessary. Saint Lucians deserve a better politics, one focussed on substance and policies that can deliver meaningful benefits to this great country. Saint Lucians deserve a Government, and a leader, that will act in the national interests and unite the country.’