“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Leader of the united opposition group, Timothy Harris reflected on the words of Dr. King when he stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This was in relation to the inactions of the Speaker of the National Assembly in St. Kitts and Nevis, Curtis Martin, who since 11th December, 2012, has refused to allow the debate and vote on a Motion of No Confidence that was filed by the Opposition leader, Mark Brantley. Martin has explained his actions by arguing that the matter was before the court and as such he could not act until a decision had been made by the court about whether it could dictate to the parliament how it should conduct its affairs.

In other words, what Harris tried to communicate, was that what is happening today in St. Kitts and Nevis, could one day take place in St. Vincent and any other Caribbean state, so it is important for all Caribbean nationals to take stock and speak out against what Harris termed was injustice and disrespect for the rule of law and the Constitution.

Harris was very harsh on his former boss, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, when he opined that High Court Judge, Justice Darshan Ramdhani “saw through the fallacy, the misrepresentation and the trickery of the government, and found that there was no prejudice to the interests of the parties from the tabling and the debating of the Motion of No Confidence. Harris and his opposition colleagues in the People’s Action Movement, PAM, and the Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM, accuse the Prime Minister as the one who is really preventing the Speaker from acting. The High Court Judge however also ruled that the opposition did not present sufficient evidence to support their charge.

What the judge also stated however was that the members of the opposition were within their constitutional right to demand that the Speaker call the motion and that he should take urgent steps to place the matter on the agenda of the parliament for the elected members to decide whether or not they have confidence in the Government and the Prime Minister. If they vote to say they don’t, then the Prime Minister would have to resign within three days or exercise his option to call early elections.

Since 2012 the opposition has not been able to convince the Speaker or the government that the motion should be heard and as such they have taken to the streets to protest in St. Kitts. With the CARICOM meeting scheduled for St. Vincent this week, bringing together the prime ministers of the various Caribbean nations, the opposition group known as Team Unity, decided it was time to increase the pressure on CARICOM, and so they headed to Kingstown. One of the sensitization activities carried there was après conference on Monday, 10th March, 2014.

Addressing the media and the live audience across the region, Dr. Harris made his appeal, “My fellow CARICOM nationals, I am here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on this day, at this hour, when CARICOM Member States have gathered at the 25th Intercessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). I am here as a humble citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis. I am also here too as a member of parliament and as the Leader of the Team Unity political movement in St. Kitts and Nevis, to let you know that all is not well in our country. I am here to tell you, as, Comrades, brothers and sisters of a common heritage and purpose, that we the people of St. Kitts and Nevis are no less desiring and are no less deserving of freedom, justice and democracy, than the rest of our CARICOM neighbours.”

Harris, who is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs for St. Kitts and Nevis said, “The CARICOM Charter of Civil Society (The Charter) sets out the fundamental principles that are to govern our CARICOM region, as regard to human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, and good governance. The Charter reaffirms confidence in CARICOM as an association of sovereign states and territories committed to those fundamental principles outlined within a Caribbean integration framework. When these principles are being transgressed and undermined in any member state, it behooves CARICOM Heads to take note and to act responsibly. Article XVII of the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society deals with good governance and the rule of law and in St. Kitts and Nevis, under the Douglas regime, we are experiencing a vicious, calculated and deliberately provocative attack on good governance, the rule of law and constitutional democracy.”

He added that when we see our brothers and sisters suffering anywhere around the world, we should always hear them, and speak with one loud, clear voice and act to end their plight. “And when it hits closer to home on the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, we should not hesitate to act with deliberate haste for the sake and in the spirit of our ancestors who bled and died for the rights and freedoms that we now enjoy today.”


 

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