Dr. Denzil Douglas and Attorney General Hon. Vincent Byron
Dr. Denzil Douglas and Attorney General Hon. Vincent Byron

Government, leader of Opposition head to court Feb. 26 over passport row

From the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister 

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – On Monday, Feb. 26, the leader of the Opposition, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, will head to the High Court where he will answer questions regarding his eligibility to serve as a member of Parliament while being the holder of a diplomatic passport of the Commonwealth of Dominica, which identifies his nationality as Dominican.

This follows the Jan. 22 move by the Office of the Attorney General to file a fixed date claim form in the High Court Registry.

The fixed date claim form, No. 8 of 2018, was filed pursuant to Section 36 of the Constitution of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis and Section 12 of the National Assembly Elections Act (Cap 2.01) as a matter between the attorney general of St. Christopher and Nevis (the Claimant) and Dr. Denzil Douglas (Defendant).

Through the application, the attorney general is seeking a declaration from the High Court “that since the election to the National Assembly Feb. 16, 2015, Douglas became disqualified from being elected as a member of the National Assembly and was accordingly required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly by reason of his becoming a person who, by virtue of his own act, is in accordance with the law of the Commonwealth of Dominica, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely, the said Commonwealth of Dominica.”

Additionally, the fixed date claim form application seeks a declaration “that Dr. Denzil Douglas has vacated his seat in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis; an injunction restraining Dr. Denzil Douglas from taking his seat in the National Assembly and from performing his functions as a member thereof; costs, and such further and/or other relief as the Honourable Court may deem just and expedient.”

During his recent press conference Feb. 1, Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris stated that this is a matter of grave constitutional, political and Parliamentary significance to the Commonwealth family. “The constitution specifies who can be a member of the Parliament and how membership in the House is invalidated or brought to an end.,” Harris said. “Dr. Douglas will have an opportunity to defend the case as to whether he is in breach of the constitution, in my view of section 28 subsection (1) subsection (a) and the National Assembly Elections Act.”

Harris further stressed that elected members of Parliament must serve their constituents and Parliament loyally and faithfully, adding “there must not be divided loyalties between duty to their constituents and Parliament on one hand, and loyalty to a foreign power on the other. Such conflict, whenever it raises its ugly head, the member in question in my view should not wait for the court, but to automatically resign.”

Douglas was issued a diplomatic passport, No: DP 0000462, by the Commonwealth of Dominica, which recorded him as being a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica. It was reported to the court that the defendant in the matter, Douglas, left the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis by air using the same Dominica passport, on April 23, 2016. The passport is stated to be valid until July 29, 2020.