HEADLINES

DOUGLAS SAYS HE KNEW PUBLIC SERVICE ACT WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

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Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas admitted that the Public Service Act of 2014 was unconstituional. At a Press Conference held by his SKN Labour Party Dr. Douglas declared ““We knew that it was unconstitutional and had sought since then to review it properly and research it.”

Codes 36 and 38 of the Public Service Act which was recently challenged was included in the Public Service Act in 2014 by the Dr. Douglas led administration. The amendments to the act was made at a time of much turmoil in the federation with a then 6 month Motion of No Confidence which was being held in abbeyance.

“The amendments to the Act by the Douglas administration were made at the time in an effort to stifle the expression of Civil Servants during a time of much turmoil and anti-government sentiments mainly over a Motion of No Confidence which at the time was held in abbeyance for over 6 months,” said Ezekial Douglas a former Civil Servant and Political Observer.

The amendments Codes 36 and 38 states:

36. Public meetings.

(1) A public officer shall not call a public meeting to consider any action of the Government or speak or otherwise actively take part in such meeting. (2) Subsection (1) applies to a public officer appearing on the platform at a public meeting which is convened with the object of considering or discussing a matter which involves the Government or the actions of the Government. (3) Subsection (1) shall not apply to public meetings of a religious nature.

38. Engaging in political activities.

A public officer shall not engage in party political activity at any time, including, (a) holding offi ce or taking active part in any political organization; (b) engaging in political controversy or publicly criticizing the policy of the Government or departments of Government; (c) writing letters to the press, publishing books or articles, circulating leafl ets or pamphlets or participating in radio or television broadcast on political matters; (d) canvassing in support of political parties or in any way publicly supporting or indicating support for any political party or candidate.

In commenting at his party’s Press Conference Dr. Douglas stated  “We knew that it was unconstitutional and had sought since then to review it properly and research it. I remember in fact discussing it with some of my own colleagues at CARICOM heads at the time when we were reviewing it. Some had some very strong views that public servants should be careful and should be cautioned in participating in politics, some felt that the time had come for us to remove those kinds of laws. In St Kitts and Nevis, we began the process to review it, in fact, the Law Commissioner … at that time had done extensive research, left all of the necessary documents with regard to that in his office and we would have repealed that act and would have introduced an appropriate substitution for it if we had not lost office.”

Calls have been made for the Attorney General to begin the process of repealing the act and further to review all acts passed during the period December 2012 to Jauary 2015 when the then Dr. Denzil Douglas led administration refused to have debated a Motion of No Confidence which was brought by the them elected majority in the National Assembly.

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