Leader of the Opposition and Former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas could be banned from the Parliament up to five years if it is true he has dual citizenship with St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica according to Dwyer Astaphan.
In an interview with the Observer, Astaphan, a lawyer, gave his legal opinion explaining that if Dr. Douglas is in fact in possession of such a passport, the question remains if he has offended any of the laws of St Kitts and Nevis.
“If he has a passport of Dominica that he acquired after the elections it means that in the absence of any other information we can say that on Election Day last time, he was a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis only.
“However, he led his administration in to the parliament in 2009 and amended the National Assembly and Elections Act to include provisions that required candidates to make declarations that on Nomination Day that they are not citizens of any other country or owed allegiance or adherence to any other country. If that oath is a false oath then could be subjected to a fine of $30,000 and face imprisonment of up to five years.”
Astaphan stated that one can argue that the oath taken on Nomination day if the person does not hold dual citizenship then the law does not apply thereafter.
“You can take an oath today on November 9th and you are not a citizen, but tomorrow you go and become a citizen then you are not offending the act. I do not hold that view. I hold the view that although the oath is in the present tense it applies to you going into that election on Election Day and it is an indicator of an intention not to violate that particular provision and to remain only a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis for the duration of the next Parliament.”
Astaphan who is also a former National Security Minister added that there is a possibility his interpretation is wrong but if not a dual citizenship holder that is elected could face a suspension from the Parliament.
“That is my opinion but I can be wrong. If I am right then that is a criminal charge…and one of the punishments for that is you’re banned from the Parliament for a period of not more than five years. So if a conviction uphold under that act the person will be automatically banned for a maximum of five years.
“If my interpretation of the act is not correct then you may have to look at section 31 of the Constitution that has certain provisions for persons who after an elections commit or omits to commits to the extents that such omission puts them in trouble with section 28 of the constitution. He may be trapped by the provision of section 31 of the constitution.”
Astaphan however noted that if his opinion is not supported by a court of law it is still an act of contempt to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“If none of the above is true and my opinion is not supported by the court of law then one can say that his of the regard for the constitution and sacredness of the laws that govern going into parliament in view the fact that he passed this particular law in 2009 making it more strict for political candidates, to the extent that they could go to jail for five years, the fact that he led the charge to make it into law makes more egregious on his part to have gone after the election and sought citizenship of another country. If it is not legally correct and does have a Dominican passport it is an act of contempt to the people of this country.”
Astaphan added that Douglas has yet to deny whether he has a Dominican Passport.
“The question is whether Dr. Douglas has a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica it has been alleged that he has one and I have not heard him deny that he has a diplomatic passport what I have heard him say are words to the effect that he does not owe any alliance to Dominica and he is not a citizen of Dominica but I have never heard him say that he does not have a passport.
“Under the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis and I think the laws of Dominica are the same. But under our laws the Minister can only issue passports to citizens whether they be regular passports, official or diplomatic passports.”
He added that he does not know if the minister in Dominica has the legal authority issue a passport of any description to any person who is not a citizen of Dominica. “Based on the evidence and I won’t conclude that the evidence is 100 percent it is not difficult to discern that Dr. Douglas does in fact hold a diplomatic passport of Dominica.”