PM Harris rubbishes SKNLPs constitutional challenge as another distraction by an unprepared party

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 28, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party are being chided for their poor attempt to thwart the June 05, 2020 General Elections by instituting a constitutional challenge to the State of Emergency and COVID Emergency Regulations, which were introduced as a response to the global threat of the novel coronavirus.

In their claim, the Hon. Marcella A. Liburd, Hon. Konris Maynard and Dr. Denzil L. Douglas argue that the State of Emergency is contrary to law and is null, void and of no effect. They also argue that the COVID-19 emergency measures are not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, are not reasonably required in the interests of public safety, public order or public health and are discriminatory against the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.

Additionally, the SKNLP candidates allege that the nature of the said Covid-19 Emergency Regulations provides the ruling party with an unfair and unequal advantage and suppresses the claimants and their political party, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.

Addressing yet another successful Team Unity Virtual Campaign Meeting on Wednesday, May 27, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said the basis of the Opposition’s challenge hinges on their desire to have the country’s borders reopened to allow persons to travel to St. Kitts and Nevis from known COVID-19 hotspots in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

The closure of the Federation’s ports of entry was one of the crucial steps taken by the Team Unity Government under the emergency regulations that has kept the people of St. Kitts and Nevis safe and helped the country to flatten the curve of the COVID-19.

“It was on the advice of the health professionals that those regulations were put in place and we will not be in any rush because our first job is to keep the people here safe. Our first job is to keep the people healthy and that is what we have been doing so successfully, so that today as we speak, [there has been] not one death,” Dr. Harris said, while noting that nations all around the world, large and small, also closed their borders as a response to the coronavirus.

As such, the St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister described the Opposition’s constitutional claim simply as a red herring by a party that clearly has no plans for the future development of the country.

“Same old Douglas Labour party, nothing has changed. Same old party, same old leader, same old policies. Labour hasn’t changed and they are not fit for the present nor the future generations,” the prime minister said.

In the claim, the Opposition members also argue that the ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation has been contravening their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and the right to be protected from discrimination.

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis officially responded in statement from the Office of the Attorney General, in which it expressly disagreed with the claimants.

The statement reads, in part, “On March 28th, 2020 the Governor General Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton proclaimed a State of Emergency after St. Kitts and Nevis confirmed its first two cases of COVD –19. The Emergency Regulations were instituted to fight this emergency. These Regulations were put in place on the advice of medical experts on the grounds that the measures outlined therein were reasonably required in the interest of public order and public health to combat Covid-19 in the Federation. These measures apply equally to everyone in the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis.”

The Hearing of the matter is set for today, Thursday, May 28, 2020.

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