Attorney general goes to High Court about passport matter
By Valencia Grant, press secretary to the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is preparing to go before the High Court under Section 36 of the Constitution in the foreign diplomatic passport matter concerning Dr. Denzil Douglas, leader of the Opposition and member of Parliament representing Saint Christopher #6, announced Attorney General the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr. today, Nov. 14, in the Honourable House of Assembly.
Section 36 gives the High Court jurisdiction to hear and determine questions of membership validity with respect to the National Assembly. Importantly, 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–(8) states, “In the exercise of his functions under this section, the Attorney-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”
Byron revealed today that he 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.”
The attorney general noted that, “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, Mr. Speaker, 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.”
Byron then referred 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.”
The attorney general continued: “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.”