Independent analysts commend Harris-led government’s adherence to the rule of law in Chinese matter

(PRESS SEC) – Noted Barbadian political analyst Mr. Peter Wickham and other independent observers give the Government of National Unity “full marks” for its handling of the matter surrounding the two economic citizens who are alleged to have defrauded state institutions in the People’s Republic of China out of US$100 million.

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris disclosed during an address to the nation on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 that the St. Kitts-Nevis Government is actively investigating the matter surrounding the economic citizens of Chinese descent, who applied for and obtained St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship in 2013 during the tenure of the Denzil Douglas regime and have been living in the Federation since 2014.

Prime Minister Harris also said that his administration adheres to and respects the rule of law at all times, and therefore guarantees every citizen due process as prescribed by the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Requests for legal assistance are governed by the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act,” the Honourable Prime Minister stated on May 9th. “This Act outlines the procedure for cooperation in criminal matters between St. Kitts and Nevis and Commonwealth countries,” Dr. Harris said.

Prime Minister Harris added: “China is not a Commonwealth country. Assistance can only be provided to a country that is not a member of the Commonwealth if that country has concluded a specific agreement to this effect with St. Kitts and Nevis. There is no such agreement between St. Kitts and Nevis and China. Therefore, the extradition assistance that was being informally sought cannot be provided within the confines of St. Kitts-Nevis law.”

The Honourable Prime Minister also said that, “I am advised by our legal team that they have examined all relevant laws, international conventions and bilateral treaties applicable to St. Kitts and Nevis and the clear legal position is that there is no basis for extraditing St. Kitts and Nevis citizens in this way.”

The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis went on to say that, “Our country is no stranger to extradition requests. We well remember the judicial processes that attended the extradition requests of Charles ‘Little Nut’ Miller and Noel ‘Zambo’ Heath, to name but two. Despite the serious allegations of criminality against these two citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Denzil Douglas-led government of the day afforded those gentlemen due process as guaranteed to them under the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Commenting on the current Government’s handling of the matter during a recent interview, Peter Wickham said that, “You can’t just give somebody over to the authorities, not once the person carries citizenship. I think that if they did that you would be making a mockery of the whole concept of economic citizenship.”

Mr. Wickham, director of Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), also said: “So I would give them full marks for reacting in the way that they could.”

The noted political analyst added that, “I don’t support this idea that an individual can just be handed over. We’ve had cases in the past where notorious drug lords have been sought and extradition proceedings have been implemented, and I think that is the international standard by which St. Kitts and Nevis would want to be judged.”

A May 12th, 2017 editorial by The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer Newspaper echoes the same sentiment.

The editorial titled “All should be treated equally under the law” makes the point that when the United States had filed extradition requests for four men in May 1996, “The government in Basseterre held at all times that the process must run its course and each of the requested men must go through due process although some of them held St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship and United States Citizenship at the same time.”

The Observer editorial also notes that, “Despite adverse publicity locally and internationally, which included a CBS 60 Minutes exposé, the Labour government in Basseterre held its position. The men had rights and the issues must be played out in the local courts.”

The editorial further states that, “We find it hard to swallow why the same politicians, who allowed the extraditions of persons accused of trafficking in cocaine to remain in St. Kitts and fight extradition for as many as 10 years, are now encouraging the current government to act in haste without regards for the law of the land and due process…The same must obtain in this case…The laws of St. Kitts and Nevis must be followed.”

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