Lawyers confident in Douglas’ diplomatic passport issue

MyVueNews Staff Writer

(L-R): Justin Simon, former attorney general of Antigua and Barbuda; Reginald Armour, SC,the legal expert witnesses for Government. On the right is the defendant, the Leader of the Opposition Dr Denzil Douglas.

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 11th January, 2019 (MyVueNews.com) – Both the defendant and the claimant in the case against Dr. Denzil Douglas, leader of the parliamentary opposition in the St. Kitts-Nevis National Assembly, are upbeat that the judge will rule in their favour.

The case involves the accusation by the Team Unity Government that Dr. Douglas has allegiance to a foreign country, Dominica, as he has used a diplomatic passport issued by that Government.

As such, they argue, the leader of the opposition has disqualified himself from sitting in the St. Kitts-Nevis National Assembly, because he is in contravention of the Constitution of the state.

After a long process of legal activities, the hearing of the case was held on 10th January, 2019, with both sides presenting expert witnesses to prove their side of the case.

Attorney General Vincent Byron said he feels confident that the judge will rule in their favour, and he bases his position on a case from the 1940s, Joyce (Appellant) vs Director of Public Prosecutions (Respondent) case of 1st February, 1946, in the House of Lords in England.

Attorney General Byron said, “The Joyce case is very clear that where an American citizen that was living in England had presented himself with a British passport and the House of Lords determined that the use of this passport showed that he had had protection of the Crown in England and therefore the court determined that that was akin to having allegiance and so our case is based on that very strong precedent.”

According to A.G. Byron, the act of filling out the application form for the passport and the use of the passport to travel constitute acts of adherence, allegiance and obedience to a foreign power. He said Dr. Douglas has travelled 10 different times to seven countries using his Dominican diplomatic passport.

The trial saw the cross examination of three legal expert witnesses, two representing the government’s side and one representing the opposition’s.

The expert witnesses provided by the Government were Mr. Reginald Armour SC, and Mr. Justin Simon, former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda. Both men are Dominican by birth. The lone expert provided by the defendant was Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Gerald Burton, also a Dominican. 

Meanwhile, Anthony Astaphan, SC, Lead Counsel for Leader of the Opposition Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, said after the hearing, “This Diplomatic Passport was given to Dr. Douglas as a matter of professionalism and personal courtesy, by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit.”

He continued, “He applied for it, as required under the regulations. He did not declare a citizenship of Dominica at no time, even when he travelled on his regular passport, or on the Diplomatic Passport. His nationality was always declared as that of St. Kitts and Nevis, or a Kittitian.”

According to a legal source, two of the Government’s expert witnesses in the Dominica Passport Case told the Court that based on the information provided by the Attorney General Vincent Byron, “Dr. Douglas is not a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, Attorney at Law, and the former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda, Justin Simon, who were flown in from Trinidad and Antigua respectively for the trial, both submitted that based on the information submitted by Attorney General Byron, Dr Douglas did not apply for citizenship of Dominica and on the travel declarations seen, Dr. Douglas has always listed his nationality as that of St. Kitts and Nevis. Both also agreed that the granting of a Diplomatic Passport is given by discretion and no oath of allegiance is required.

Dr. Douglas’ expert witness, Gerald Burton, who is Chairman of the Dominica Electoral Commission, in his testimony also stated that possession of a Diplomatic Passport by Dr. Douglas does not grant him citizenship of Dominica.

Having heard from both sides in the case, the judge, His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward, QC, has reserved judgement.

Lawyers for both the plaintiff and defendant are to provide written submissions to Justice Ward, between 25th January and 4th February. Thereafter, the judge is expected to make his ruling.

Top Photo: Douglas’ Defence Team – Sylvester Anthony, Delano Bart QC, Kendrickson Kentish, Anthony Astaphan SC; Dr. Denzil Douglas and Angelina Gracey Sooko-Bobb.

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