Cedric Liburd vs. Eugene Hamilton case to be Heard in Antigua in May

According to a press release issued by the Communication Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister, this has been confirmed by Crown Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General, Arudranuath Gossai.

He said that the matter will be up for hearing before the Court of Appeal sitting in Antigua on Wednesday 18th May, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

A three-judge Eastern Caribbean Appeal Court panel had postponed hearing arguments in March  to determine whether opposition lawmaker, Eugene Hamilton, a Permanent Resident of the United States, is eligible to sit in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, after court procedures were not followed by two of the three parties in the matter.

Whatever the ruling by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, the Cedric Liburd vs. Eugene Hamilton “Green Card” matter is set to become a test case not only in St. Kitts and Nevis, the OECS and the Caribbean Community, but also the British Commonwealth.

“In my research, throughout the Commonwealth and to an extent of the United States, we have not come across a case where the Court has actually had to decide on a Green Card issue. Almost all the cases had to decide on people who have a second passport and the Constitutions are similarly framed throughout the Commonwealth so that this is not only going to help St. Kitts and Nevis and the OECS, but the other Commonwealth countries,” said Crown Counsel in the Attorney General Chambers,  Mr. Arudranuath Gossai.

The issue is whether Eugene Alastair Hamilton, a Permanent Resident of the United States since 2003 and who won a seat in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis in the January 25th 2010 General Elections was qualified to be nominated and elected.

Section 28 of the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution states:  (1) A person shall not be qualified to be elected or appointed as a member if he – (a) is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.

A judge of the High Court ruled last October that although the opposition Parliamentarian is a United States Permanent Resident, “it was no concern of the Court” and refused to invalidate his election to the lawmaking body.

Mr. Goosai said that the Attorney General being the guardian of the Constitution ought to ensure that the Constitution is properly interpreted and followed.

He said the Attorney General’s Chambers is of the view that one who is a Permanent Resident of the United States or Green Card holder, “must fall under one of those headings under the Constitution as if I may say, that either allegiance, adherence or obedience, because the Constitutional framers would not have used three terms to mean the same thing.”

(This article was written with content incorporated from a CUOPM press release)

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