By Kilony Johnson:
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, June 13, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister)* – Opposition member for St. Christopher 6, the Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, will head back to the High Court on Friday, June 15 to answer to legal actions brought against him by one of his constituents, challenging his eligibility to serve as a Member of Parliament while he holds and has traveled on a diplomatic passport issued to him by the Commonwealth of Dominica.
His Lordship, the Honourable Justice Trevor Ward QC, will hear arguments on several interlocutory applications brought in a claim by Cuthbert Mills of Newton Ground challenging Dr. Douglas’ eligibility and qualification to hold his seat in the National Assembly, after he (Dr. Denzil Douglas) admitted in court that he holds and has traveled on a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Mr. Mills, a concerned citizen and voter of Constituency Six of which Dr. Douglas currently represents in Parliament, has claimed that by applying for, being issued and travelling on the Dominican diplomatic passport, the Leader of the Opposition has acknowledged allegiance, obedience or adherence to Dominica, a foreign power or state.
The St. Christopher and Nevis Constitution (1983) requires that a member of Parliament cannot be under any adherence or acknowledgement of an allegiance to a foreign state, as quoted in Section 28.
Section 28 (1) of the Constitution of St. Christopher and Nevis and Section Six (6) of the National Assemblies Act both provide that “a person shall not be qualified to be elected or appointed as a member if he is by virtue of his own act under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”
In October 2017, a High Court in the Commonwealth nation of Australia ruled that five Members of Parliament were ineligible to contest their seats due to their holding of dual citizenship, and as a result meant that they were ineligible to serve in Parliament.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, has repeatedly called on the Leader of the Opposition to do the honourable thing and vacate his seat.
Prime Minister Harris has also pointed out that it was Dr. Douglas himself, while serving as Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, who brought legislation to amend the National Assembly Elections Act No. 16 of 2009. In his presentation on the Amendment Bill, Dr. Douglas passionately defended the Constitution where Members of Parliament (elected and appointed), who hold dual citizenship, are disqualified from representing the people in Parliament.
This resulted in the People’s Action Movement (PAM) candidates, then the Honourable Shawn Richards and Lindsay Grant, traveling to Barbados to renounce their US Citizenship and relinquish their US passports in the lead up to the 2010 general elections.
Furthermore, the former Denzil Doulas regime also brought court action against the Honourable Eugene Hamilton challenging the validity of his 2010 election victory, over his possession of a green card. Following the 2010 election, the Labour party’s candidate for Constituency #8, Cedric Liburd argued that the Honourable Eugene Hamilton was a citizen of the United States. Mr. Hamilton immediately rejected this charge, and clarified that he only held a U.S. Green Card.
On Monday, 5th December 2011, the OECS Appeals Court dismissed the petition appeal brought by then Attorney General Patrice Nisbett and Mr. Liburd, and also awarded costs to Mr. Hamilton.
This coming Friday, June 15, the Honourable Justice Trevor Ward QC will hear arguments from counsel for Mr. Mills and the Leader of the Opposition on several issues, including an application by Mr. Mills to strike out affidavits filed by Dr. Douglas, and for an order that Dr. Douglas produce the diplomatic passport for inspection.