St. Kitts-Nevis opposition leader wins passport case

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St. Kitts-Nevis opposition leader wins passport case
Dr. Denzil Douglas
Dr. Denzil Douglas

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Feb. 20, CMC – Former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, Dr. Denzil Douglas, on Wednesday scored a major victory in the passport case brought against him by the Attorney General when the court ruled in his favour.

The government took Douglas to court, seeking a declaration to have him disqualified from being a member of the National Assembly on the grounds that he had contravened Section 28 1. A of the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.

They also asked that if that declaration was made, that Dr. Douglas would have to vacate his seat in parliament and there should be an injunction that would bar him from the National Assembly and from carrying out any functions of an MP.

Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan countered that Dr. Douglas never applied for or acquired citizenship for Dominica, nor had he sworn any oath of allegiance to that foreign power. He further explained that in every instance where Dr. Douglas used the diplomatic passport to travel, he had put Kittitian as his nationality on all travel documents.

“I find that the defendant obtained the diplomatic passport solely as a gesture of political and professional courtesy extended to him in his capacity as former prime minister. I further hold that under Dominican law the voluntary act of acquiring and using a diplomatic passport by a non-citizen does not place the holder under an acknowledgment of allegiance, or adherence or obedience to Dominica within the meaning of Section 28 (1)(a) as this is not an act that manifests the conscious exercise of the defendant’s will, acknowledging the obligation of fidelity and obedience to the Commonwealth of Dominica,” the judge declared.

Based on the ruling, Douglas won’t be barred from taking his seat on the National Assembly.

Attorney General Vincent Byron said he was disappointed in the decision but will respect it.

In response, Douglas said the ruling was handed down “resoundingly in my favour. “His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward Q.C. has ruled specifically that a diplomatic passport issued to me by the Government of Dominica as professional courtesy does not in any way offend the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis. I feel a deep sense of vindication upon the judgment of the Court.”

The former Prime Minister said the victory, is not just for him, but for all “because of the far-reaching implications that this case has for democracy and good governance in our Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. His Lordship in his ruling has acknowledged that the holding of a diplomatic passport does not call into question my loyalty or allegiance to my beloved country and the people whom I represent. My loyalty to my country has always been paramount when taking decisions that would allow me to best execute my duties in my capacity as leader of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and as four-term former Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

He blamed the current administration, stating that it failed to “grant me the courtesies befitting my rank and role has been purely an act of political harassment in pursuit of Dr. Timothy Harris’ personal vendetta,” adding that the “case was intended as a distraction and as a scurrilous attempt to malign and injure my good character and reputation”.

“Now that I have emerged triumphant, I look forward to my next encounter with Dr. Harris and his coalition administration – that will be at the upcoming general elections.”

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