Attorney General the Hon. Vincent Byron Jr has announced that he has made moves regarding the dual citizenship matter involving former Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition the Rt Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.
Byron making a presentation in Parliament, Tuesday indicated that the government has information that Douglas who represents Constituency six has been issued, held and used a passport of another country.
“We have evidence that the member for number six has a diplomatic passport that states in it that he is a Dominican national.
“This Government, would like to place on record our very deep concern that someone who has led this country for many years, and who still sits in this Parliament, should hold a passport of a foreign country and we say, as that result, has shown an acknowledgement of allegiance, that he has shown an acknowledgement of obedience and adherence to a foreign state.”
The Attorney General referred to section 28–(1) a) of the Constitution, which states 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 acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”
He then referrence to section 31–(3) c), which states that, “An elected or appointed member shall also vacate his seat in the Assembly subject to subsection (4), if any other circumstances arise that, if he were not a member, would cause him to be disqualified to be elected or appointed as such by virtue of subsection (1) of section 28 or of any law enacted in pursuance of subsection (2), (3) or (5) of that section.”
Byron stated that the government has sought legal advice, and we have begun proceedings to go to the court under Section 36 of the constitution.
“Mr. Speaker, this Government is deeply concerned that we should have someone who sits in our Parliament who is in a position to be disqualified,” Byron Stated.
Section 36 of the constitution states “the High Court jurisdiction to hear and determine any questions whether any person who has been validly elected as a representative was qualified to be elected or has vacated the office validity with respect to the National Assembly.
The section also gives the Attorney General the right to apply to the High Court for the determination of such questions.
“Moreover, if a person other than the Attorney General makes such an application, the section gives the Attorney General the right to intervene and “appear and be represented in the proceedings,” Section 36 reads.
Byron noted that the proceedings would determine whether Dr. Douglas should vacate his seat.
“I want to bring to the attention of this Honourable house that the Attorney General has initiated instructions to senior counsel to begin proceedings in this matter to determine whether the member for number six should vacate his seat or not.”
Speaker of the National Assembly the Hon. Michael Perkins also addressed the matter indicating the issue has implications on the composition of the Parliament
“I consider the implications of that particular issue and the outcome of it to be very serious with respect to our Parliament and the very composition of the parliament.”
He then read a letter written to him by the Leader of Government Business the Hon. Eugene Hamilton that he said was the only official documentation which has come to his attention with respect to the matter
The letter read in part, “Please be advised that it has come to my attention that the Rt. Hon Dr. Denzil Douglas member for St. Christopher 6 and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly has been issued, holds and has travelled on a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica.
“The issue of the diplomatic passport was on July, 17 2015 and bears passport number DP000462. In my respectful view the holding of a diplomatic passport by the member of St. Christopher 6 raises implications for his qualification and eligibility to serve as a member of the National Assembly in St. Christopher and Nevis.”
Perkins further noted that the issue is a matter of “national importance and great public interest” and indicated that he considers it “my sacred public duty to draw my feelings of dismay and concerns to your attention.”
He also noted that he is seeking legal advice on the matter.
“It is of such serious a matter and have such serious implications I have chosen to seek proper advice on the matter and that is being done as we speak.”
Dr. Douglas who is currently overseas was not present in the Parliament on Tuesday.