March 12th, 2020
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s Court of Appeal has ordered former Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and current Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Denzil Douglas to immediately step down from the St.Kitts-Nevis National Assembly for intentionally disregarding his constitutional obligation as a Member of Parliament.
The Court of Appeal ruled today, March 12th, 2020, that Dr. Denzil Douglas, who was elected on February 16th, 2015 as the member of the National Assembly representing the Constituency of St. Christopher No. 6, is required to vacate his seat with immediate effect as a penalty for ignoring the law set out in the Constitution in relation to qualifications for being a Member of Parliament.
The Court of Appeal’s bombshell judgment, which indicates the gravity of Dr. Douglas’ offence, was made by reason of his own act of acknowledging allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, namely the Commonwealth of Dominica.
What Dr. Douglas did is strictly prohibited in the Constitution in Section 28(1)(a) and in the National Assembly Elections Act in Section 6(1)(a).
The Government’s appeal was heard by Chief Justice the Hon. Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, as well as Justice of Appeal the Hon. Mde. Gertel Thom and Justice of Appeal [Ag.] the Hon. Mr. Paul Webster.
“The main issue for this Court’s determination is whether Dr. Douglas, by his application for, receipt and use of a Dominican diplomatic passport, is under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state, in terms of section 28(1)(a) of the Constitution, and is therefore required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly in accordance with section 31(3)(c) of the Constitution,” the Chief Justice noted before giving a ruling on the case.
The Chief Justice stated, in part: “The cumulative effect of my conclusions is that Dr. Douglas, by his application for, receipt and use of a Dominican diplomatic passport, placed him in clear breach of section 28(1)(a) of the Constitution. As a matter of law, the consequence in the terms of section 33(3)(c) follows. That consequence is that, Dr. Douglas is required to vacate his seat in the National Assembly in Saint Christopher and Nevis.” Hon. Thom and Hon. Webster both concurred.
On July 30th, 2015, the Commonwealth of Dominica issued a diplomatic passport to Dr. Denzil Douglas, who subsequently travelled to at least five countries on it. The diplomatic passport, which records Dr. Douglas as being a citizen of Dominica, has an expiry date of July 29th, 2020.
Accordingly, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s Court of Appeal ruled today that Dr. Denzil Douglas has reached his expiry date as a Parliamentary Representative in St. Kitts and Nevis, as he must therefore step down from the National Assembly with immediate effect.
According to Section 36(7) of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Constitution, the Court of Appeal is the final court that can rule on questions of membership in the National Assembly. This is therefore the final decision on the matter of Dr. Douglas’ divided loyalty and his sworn allegiance to Dominica.