BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Vincent Byron Jr., had declared that the Team Unity Government is awaiting the date for an Expedited Appeal against the High Court’s decision in the diplomatic passport case involving the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.
He was at the time responding to a reporter’s question at the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference on Tuesday (Apr. 9).
“There was a judgment handed down in the High Court in relation to the matter that was brought by the Attorney General against Dr. Denzil Douglas, where we asked the Court to determine whether Dr. Douglas had infringed Section 28 of the Constitution that requires all Members of Parliament not to have any sort of divided loyalty to our Parliament to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” AG Byron said.
He explained that the question asked of the High Court was if Dr. Douglas had breached the Federation’s Constitution “by receiving, applying for and being granted a passport by a foreign country and using it to travel to some seven countries ten different times, as stated by him in affidavit”?
“At the first instance in the High Court, he was found not to be in breach,” the AG said, adding that the Government accepted the judge’s, but after consulting and being advised by a senior counsel, they decided to pursue the matter further.
“…we have applied, filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal. We have subsequently filed an application for an Expedited Appeal, which was heard some two weeks ago by a single judge in St. Lucia, who has granted that application. And so we await the Court of Appeal to determine a date when that Expedited Appeal would be heard. And we expect that that question would be answered.”
AG Byron stated that the question is an important one because “if the judgment, as handed down here stands, it means that every Member of Parliament on any side of the isle, whether in Opposition or the Government, can have a passport from any island in the Caribbean who is a friendly government”.
He also stated that one of the bases on which the Government was told that Dr. Douglas did not show any allegiance to Dominica, the country in which he has a diplomatic passport, was that he was granted a political courtesy as a former prime minister by a colleague.
“It would seem as though our Prime Minister, when he went to St. Vincent the other day, could have been granted a political courtesy and have a St. Vincent passport, but I hope not.
“It would mean that any Member of Parliament could have more than one passport, and it would make a mockery, we believe, of Section 28 of the Constitution because we believe that the framers of the Constitution saw somebody who showed allegiance to a foreign State had divided loyalty and could not fully represent St. Kitts and Nevis and the people of St. Kitts and Nevis,” he suggested.
‘So that is a matter under appeal,” Byron said, adding, “We wait to hear when that date will be set. We expect it to be done shortly and we will inform you when that has happened.”
On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward, Q.C., had dismissed the case brought against Dr. Douglas.
The Opposition Leader was not in court when Justice Ward dismissed the case against him; he was out of the Federation. But on his arrival later that day, he had offered his comments on the ruling.
“His Lordship, in his ruling, has acknowledged that the holding of a diplomatic passport does not call into question my loyalty or allegiance to my beloved country and the people whom I represent,” he stressed. “My loyalty to my country has always been paramount when taking decisions that would allow me to best execute my duties in my capacity as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and as four-term former Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis.”