Judgement in parliament disqualification case against Dr. Douglas to be handed down today
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, February 20, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Resident High Court Judge, His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward, QC, is expected to deliver his highly anticipated judgement today (Wednesday, February 20) in the landmark case brought by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis against Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas, to determine whether Dr. Douglas, through his use of a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica, is under allegiance to a foreign power and as result should be disqualified from the sitting in the National Assembly.
The Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis prohibits Members of Parliament from holding dual-citizenship.
The parliamentary disqualification case, which had its first hearing in the High Court on February 26, 2018, included presentations by experts on Dominican Law as it relates to questions of allegiance.
Dr. Douglas, in an affidavit filed in the High Court Registry on February 21, 2018, admitted to holding a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica (DP 0000462), which he has used to travel. Dr. Douglas also admits to filling out and signing an application form for the diplomatic passport he holds, which is valid until July 29, 2020.
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.”
The legal team representing the government, led by Mr. Douglas Mendes SC, is confident of a positive outcome in the matter based on the precedent set in the 1940s judgement in the Joyce (Appellant) vs Director of Public Prosecutions (Respondent) case of February 1, 1946, in the House of Lords in England.
Attorney General, the Honourable Vincent Byron, referred to the ruling against William Joyce, an American citizen who resided in British Territory for about twenty-four years.
“The Joyce case is very clear that where an American citizen that was living in England had presented himself with a British passport and the House of Lords determined that the use of this passport showed that he had protection of the Crown in England and therefore the court determined that that was akin to having allegiance, and so our case is based on that very strong precedent,” Attorney General Byron said.
Minister Byron stated that the act of filling out the application form for the passport and the use of the passport to travel constitute acts of adherence, allegiance and obedience to a foreign power. He noted that Dr. Douglas has travelled 10 different times to seven countries using his Dominican diplomatic passport.