Attorney General responds to injunction request

By Attorney General of St. Kitts & Nevis,

With one-half of the time allotted for the General Elections Campaign of 2020 gone, three members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party have instituted a Constitutional challenge to the State of Emergency brought about as a result of the global Corona Virus Pandemic.

The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has also challenged the Covid-19 Emergency Measures.

Marcella A. Liburd, Konris Maynard and The Rt. Hon. Denzil L. Douglas are arguing that the State of Emergency is contrary to law and is null, void and of no effect.

The Claimants also argue that the Covid-19 Emergency Measures are discriminatory against the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and are not reasonably required in the interests of public safety, public order or public health.

In addition, the constitutional challenge by the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party contends that the alleged discriminatory nature of the Covid-19 Emergency Measures provides the ruling party which forms the Government with an unfair and unequal advantage and they allege that the Emergency Measures suppress the Claimants and their political party, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.

According to the papers instituted in Court, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is arguing that the Measures which have been instituted are not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society or in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is arguing, further, that the ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation has been contravening their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression, of association and to be protected from discrimination and of airing their political views.

The Attorney General rejects these arguments. Nothing in the Covid-19 Emergency Measures refer to any political party, whether favourably or unfavourably. The Measures apply equally to everyone in the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis.

By way of further rejection of the arguments raised by the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, the Attorney General is surprised at the view that the Covid-19 Emergency Measures are not reasonably required in the interests of public safety, public order or public health.

The Attorney General states that the daily public briefings conducted by the Covid-19 Task Force have consistently received the highest praise locally and further afield for their transparency, frankness and technical proficiency.

The Attorney General is of the view that the daily press briefings led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hazel Laws, Medical Chief of Staff Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, C.B.E. and National Disaster Coordinator Mr. Abdias Samuel have presented these daily updates in an unbiased and totally professional manner and have demonstrated, on the contrary, the wisdom, the farsightedness and the effectiveness of the Covid-19 Emergency Measures.

The response of the Covid-19 Task Force has been measured and has resulted in our country having at this time had no hospitalizations or deaths from the Corona Virus and no known active Corona Virus cases.

If the aim of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is to strike down these successful Covid-19 Emergency Measures, the result would be to lay our borders open to an influx of air and sea passengers from Corona Virus Hotspots in unrestricted numbers calculated to overwhelm our Healthcare System at this time. This could reverse the effectiveness of the carefully managed Emergency Measures and open our people to the risk of the deadly infection in the twinkling of an eye.

As far as the ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation is concerned, the Attorney General said that it is well known to the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party that ZIZ has issued a Policy Statement on election broadcasting and coverage.

The published Policy of ZIZ is that as the National Broadcasting Station it should promote and enhance the fundamental freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis.

The Policy of ZIZ is that as the National Broadcasting Station it is not and must not be the preserve of the political party which forms the Government.

ZIZ exists for the use of all political parties, the Policy states, and must not be limited to the activities of one political party.

The Attorney General states that the published Policy of ZIZ is that its programming should be balanced and give the public an opportunity to be exposed to the expression of differing views and perspectives on matters of public concern.

The Attorney General states that the constitutional challenge of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party will be vigorously defended.

Photo: Vincent Byron Jr., Attorney General of St.Kitts-Nevis (SKNIS)

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