Could St Kitts/Nevis Leader of the Opposition Dr Denzil Douglas be Disbarred from Parliament?

The Attorney General added that Dr. Douglas would have the right to appeal the court’s decision but said that “there would have to be, as it was, a bi-election within 90 days of such a date, if he does not [appeal].”

Could St Kitts/Nevis Leader of the Opposition Dr Denzil Douglas be Disbarred from Parliament?

Leader of Opppsition, Dr. Denzil Douglas (L) and Attorney General, the Hon. Vincent Byron (R)

On Wednesday, January 16th, 2019, the Attorney General of St Kitts & Nevis, the Honourable Vincent Byron reminded the people of that twin-island nation of the serious implications surrounding the outcome of the diplomatic passport case brought against Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas.

The Hon Attorney General was responding to a question posed to him on this matter during Prime Minister's press conference.

Attorney General Byron stated that "in accordance with Section 28 and Section 31 (3) of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Opposition Leader, who is the Parliamentary Representative for Constituency Six, stands to be disbarred from the National Assembly if the court concludes that the use of his diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica constitutes an act of adherence to a foreign power."

Section 28–(1) a) of the Constitution 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.”

Section 31–(3) c) 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.”

Minister Byron also went on to mention, “Basically, what we are saying is that Dr. Douglas will have to vacate his seat in the Parliament if the court finds that the use of his passport puts him under an allegiance to Dominica. It would mean that the court will have to order him to vacate his seat in the Parliament.”

The Attorney General added that Dr. Douglas would have the right to appeal the court’s decision but said that “there would have to be, as it was, a bi-election within 90 days of such a date, if he does not [appeal].”

The Government’s case in this matter is stated as being based upon the precedent set by the House of Lords in the case of Joyce vs the DPP. The 1945 case of William Joyce—an American citizen with a British passport, who was found guilty of treason against Britain. In that matter, the prosecution argued that the British passport, which Mr. Joyce had renewed immediately prior to fleeing from Britain and which was valid until July 2, 1940, entitled him to the protection afforded to all British passport holders, and that he therefore owed allegiance in return.

Following the presentations of three legal expert witnesses on Dominican law in the High Court on Thursday, January 10, 2019, both sides now have until January 25 to submit written submissions. Each party will then have until February 4 to respond, if necessary, to those submissions before a judgement is passed down.

Dr. Douglas has long been accused of acting in support of the Commonwealth of Dominica, particularly as it relates to the promotion of that country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Reports suggest that Dr Douglas has travelled regularly to Dubai where he has promoted the interest of Dominica’s CBI programme in lieu of St. Kitts and Nevis’ own programme.