COMMENTARY: Abuse of diplomatic immunity has to stop

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COMMENTARY: Abuse of diplomatic immunity has to stop
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
Walid Juffali with his former wife Christina Estrada at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 Photo: Alan Davidson

THE TELEGRAPH – The most borrowed new book at the United Nations’ headquarters library last year was a curious title: Immunity of Heads of State and State Officials for International Crimes. Some wondered why UN staff were suddenly so interested in a tome examining how diplomats can avoid criminal charges abroad. But I can’t say it came as much of a surprise to me.

I’ve noted with serious concern over recent years the disturbing trend of diplomats using their privileges of immunity to avoid justice. The world needs to wake up to the true extent of this scandal, especially when you consider there are around 20,000 diplomats currently entitled to immunity from the UK courts alone.

Citing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – originally introduced in 1961 to protect ambassadors and heads of state from the perils of working in hostile environments – diplomats have been regularly evading justice in both civil matters and criminal cases, ranging from parking fines to the possession of fire arms. It has become such a problem in the UK that Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was last year moved to reveal how diplomats serving in Britain had racked up more than £87 million in unpaid congestion charges since 2003.

If any further evidence were needed of the farcical use and abuse of immunity, it came last week at the High Court in London, where Saudi diplomat Walid Juffali was attempting to halt a claim by his ex-wife for a legally binding settlement and a share of his £4bn fortune.

As St Lucia’s Permanent Representative to the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Juffali asserts that he has full protection from the British justice system – a right he is apparently only too happy to exercise in a bid to protect his wealth, following the breakdown of his 13-year marriage to former supermodel Christina Estrada. Mr Juffali has not attended a single meeting of the London-based IMO since his appointment, holds no qualifications in shipping or maritime law, and has no obvious connection to St Lucia.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Greetings! Quick question that's totally off topic.
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    (0)(0)

  2. Next week we celebrate our independence anniversary. A time when we should be showing maturity, good governance and the ability to manage our affairs properly, what are some of our gifts from the government?
    1. Sale of our shoreline for which no one, except Grynberg, knows anything.
    2. An international Lambirds Academy fiasco for which no one knows anything. 3. An international scandal emerging from the hidden corridors of darkness and now affecting our
    relations with Britain, exposing our leaders and others in authority and giving us accumulated
    international bad press.
    4. Foreign ambassadors compelled to intervene so as to manage our justice system and impose
    deadlines on us.
    From Kenny with love

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  3. If Juffali was ok when the application was made to UK why all of sudden he is no good? In particular why it is only now questions about suitability in relation to his qualification and or experience in Maritime matters seemed to be of importance to the UK? In my opinion this is the aspect breathing the breath of life into this affair.

    It seem to me it is common procedure otherwise he wouldn't have been appointed to that post. Are those contributors to the Telegraph honestly telling that the UK did not check his credentials before accepting him as a diplomat in the UK? Hard to believe!

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  4. Sad to see the Telegraph being reduced to being a news agency of insignificance to me now, all in the name of keeping a story which holds NO merit (whatsoever) in the public realm, without educating the people of the real issues regarding how immunity status is allowed or bestowed upon Diplomats.

    At least if the "Telegraph" is really honest and wants to be respected (at least by me from now on), you need to make factual, rational and informative digital printing of such affairs and show both sides of this. But this one sided garbage that the "Telegraph" is monkey knuckling in cyber-space is only damaging the credibility of this once revered news agency.

    Sad to see that you've been reduced to Rubbish all in the name of getting traffic to your website, "Telegraph".

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    • David, do you realise this isn't The Telegraph!

      You don't read like someone with no common sense so why post your comments about The Telegraph on SNO?

      Surely you could have followed the link to the story on The Telegraph then make your comment/s about them to them directly.

      Enlighten us, what's unfactual about The Telegraph's piece?

      "keeping a story which holds NO merit (whatsoever) in the public realm..." This is where I take my words back about you reading like someone with common sense.

      Holds no merit in the public domain are for real. This holds merit in both the St Lucian and British public interest, more so St Lucians.

      If it didn't why was the British Foreign Affairs Minister - Mr Hammond ordered to look further into this case and confirm the British agreed with the indivdual being put up by the St Lucian Government to be bestowed with Diplomatic Immunity!

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    • I saw your bullshit comment on the telegraph as well.

      You're clearly a hack who is deep in your feelings about this sordid affair which paints your political leaders in a less than stellar light.

      Is it the telegraphs fault that a man with no maritime experience was appointed to be diplomat of the IMO? Is it also their fault that his diplomatic status was granted three weeks before he unknowingly divorced his wife?

      Is it also the telegraphs fault that after he had been accepted by the UK (in good faith, thinking us to be less corrupt) that he had not attended one of the meetings for which he was appointed?

      So I ask what was the point of his appointment in the first place should he not attend said meetings.

      Further if he has not attended said meetings why is the privilege for his diplomatic duties be extended to domestic matters?

      You are the one who is uttering rubbish in a vain attempt to further insult the intelligence of this nation.

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    • You must be very smart or the red Kool aid has you bazohdee. Here is the author's biography. I wonder if you are even fit to review his grocery list.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Stephens_(solicitor)

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  5. This was premeditated and calculated.

    The man was allegedly granted diplomatic status for a quick buck in order to ensure that he would not have to split his vast fortune as he had done previously with his first wife.

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  6. Another week, St Lucia is in the spot light with regards to Juffali.

    I believe St Lucia and the appointment of Juffali will end up being a pilot case in regards to immunity being lifted or not in future cases.

    Never-the-less not very good publicity for St Lucia.

    What's also ironic is that St Lucians are being given information by the St Lucian Government in drips and drabs via various mediums.

    They're better off logging onto some UK newspapers like The Telegraph and Daily Mail to get some of the information the SLU Gov chooses not to disclose.

    Whatever happend to TRANSPERANCY!

    St Lucians, we can get the Government to disclose alot more about this appointment however we just need to unite (easier said than done) and have a peacefull March or a petition demanding disclosure.

    Politicians (Red and Yellow) the World is Flat, no longer can you pull the wool over your EMPLOYERS eyes on certain issues.

    Gone are the days of everday St Lucians not being able to access foreign newspapers and publications.

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  7. If we do not realize that they are gunning for us then we are either passive or we have not fully comprehend te gravity if this situation. The beneficiaries of the juggling funds are trivializing the situation but bare in mind, when they are thousands of miles away enjoying the fruits of thy "labour" , we will be left to wallow in what is dished out to us by the super powers.

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  8. I love this part:

    "The stunning fortuity of the appointment’s timing cannot be ignored either. After separating from Ms Estrada in October 2013, Mr Juffali is alleged to have visited the Caribbean island for the first time less than two months later. Within 12 weeks the IMO was notified of the St Lucian government’s request to appoint him to the role. On the September 4 2014 he was finally added to the London Diplomatic List. Just 13 days later, once immunity was secured, he divorced Ms Estrada in Saudi Arabia without her knowledge."

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    • I laugh at y'all ppl who now have a conscience that's how the world works every country does it stick to y'all local politics about who stealing money on some insignificant rd project and stop with the fake outrage this a non story nothing gonna come from it the IN deals with countries who kill their ppl everyday

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      • You're a fool.

        Governing bodies may over look the crimes of countries with needed resources.

        St. Lucia has no ace in the deck. We don't have any role to play in the major decisions of the world and that is because like an empty hand that grabbeth all and giveth nothing...we have NOTHING to offer.

        Don't think for a second that we are to be compared to the likes of resource rich countries who continue to behave poorly with little reprimand. We are beggars of the EU and the UN.

        Your delusions are rather apparent.

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