Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 12, 2020 (SKNIS): The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) of Appeal in Castries, Saint Lucia, in a judgment handed down today, March 12, 2020, ruled that Dr. Denzil Douglas, Leader of the St. Kitts and Nevis Opposition Labour Party and Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Six, must vacate his seat in the National Assembly with immediate effect.
In the judgment handed down by Chief Justice, the Hon. Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, the Hon. Mde Gertel Thom, Justice of Appeal, and the Hon. Mr. Paul Webster, Justice of Appeal (Ag) in an appeal case between the Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis and Dr. Denzil Douglas, the learned judges made the following conclusion:
“The cumulative effect of my conclusions is that Dr. Douglas, by his application for, receipt and use of a Dominican diplomatic passport, placed him in clear breach of section 28(1)(a) of the Constitution. As a matter of law, the consequence in the terms of section 33(3)(c) follows. That consequence is that, Dr. Douglas is required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly in Saint Christopher and Nevis,” stated the judgement.
“It is hereby declared that Dr. Douglas, by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to the Commonwealth of Dominica in breach of section 28(1)(a) of the Constitution, is required, pursuant to section 31(3)(c) of the Constitution, to vacate his seat in the National Assembly,” the judgment added.
Each party is to bear their own cost before the ECSC of Appeal and the Lower Court.
On February 20, 2019, Resident High Court Judge His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward Q.C, ruled that Dr. Douglas was not under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state for holding a Dominican diplomatic passport.
The Government subsequently appealed the ruling of Justice Trevor Ward Q.C. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal has upheld the appeal of the Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Dr. Denzil Douglas admitted in a sworn affidavit filed in the High Court Registry on February 21, 2018, that he filled out an application form and was issued with a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which he has used to travel.
Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis, Honourable Vincent Byron, stated to the House on January 23, 2018, that Dr. Douglas was issued a diplomatic passport No: DP 0000462 by the Commonwealth of Dominica, which recorded him as being a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica. “This is borne out by a certificate of exhibits thus filed among the papers at the court,” he said.
The Attorney General acting on advice of learned Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes of Trinidad and Tobago asked the High Court to declare that Dr. Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly by holding a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Constitutional Motion also sought an injunction to restrain Dr. Douglas from taking part in the proceedings of the National Assembly.
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”, said the Attorney General.
In the parliamentary disqualification case in the High Court before Resident High Court Judge His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward Q.C. on Monday, February 26, 2018, Dr. Douglas first headed to court to answer questions about his eligibility to serve as a Member of Parliament while being the holder of a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica which identified his nationality as a Dominican.