Dominica's Filing at ICJ against Switzerland
It is with great trepidation that some members of DAAS address the matter of the Government of Dominica filing a complaint at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Switzerland on behalf of Mr. Lakschin. However, as an organization representing a substantial number of Dominicans, both at home and in the Diaspora, we would be remiss if our views on the above were not recorded.
Our Government claims that Switzerland had breached its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961, the Headquarters Agreement between Switzerland and the United Nations of June 11, 1946, the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations between Switzerland and the United Nations of April 11, 1946, the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations February 13, 1946, as well as principles.
Credible facts lead to the reasonable conclusion that Mr. Lakschin is someone of questionable repute and is using his diplomatic status from Dominica to cover him from dubious activities, and our Government is complicit in it. Mr. Lakschin was recently sued in the Swiss courts for close to a quarter million dollars, one of several cases brought against him so our Government is challenging the ICJ for denying immunity to the Russian in their filing as declared below:
c) that the Respondents, in breach of their obligations under the aforementioned treaties and conventions as well as under general and customary international law, have violated the fundamental rules of immunity of diplomats.
Mr. Lakschin is a Russian citizen and even more appalling, one of dubious character. It is difficult for us to comprehend why he serves as Dominica's diplomatic representative in Switzerland. Notwithstanding that the case was later reconsidered and actions are now being taken to withdraw the complaint. We need an explanation.
Since this story broke, Dominicans are asking this question: Why is it that legitimate, able, and available Dominican people should not be representing Dominica in its missions around the world? This question has been asked many times before, we ask it here again. Mr. Prime Minister why don't you use credentialed, real Dominicans to represent their beloved country and save us these kinds of embarrassments? Who could better represent Dominica than Dominicans? Dr Max Hilaire in an article which appeared in the Chronicle of May 12 has posed the same questions and feels that the case should never have been filed and proposed an independent inquiry and that those found responsible should be discharged of their governmental responsibilities.
We are also perplexed by the explanation that Mr. Lakschin simply took his grievances to the Foreign Minister Charles Savarin, and the Foreign Minister on his own with no consultation with President Liverpool, Prime Minister Skerrit, other ministers of Government, our Ambassador to the United Nations, Crispin Gregoire can take this extreme measure on Mr. Lakschin's behalf.
We as citizens believe that the people of Dominica deserve an explanation of how something of this magnitude could occur without the Prime Minister's knowledge or consent. Dominicans in the Diaspora are placed in a very peculiar situation. We are asked to be ambassadors of our country, a task which we undertake with great pride, and in light of this we sometimes have to defend the actions of our Government, in addition to promoting it. So what happens at home impairs or enhances our ability to do so proudly, and confidently.
Dr Clayton A. Shillingford
President, Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences (www.da-academy.org).