Dr. Denzil Douglas

(BROOKLYN, New York): Leader of theSt. Kitts and Nevis opposition and former Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas scored a major victory in the high court recently when Justice Trevor Ward QC dismissed the government’s case seeking to have him disqualified from parliament over his possession of a diplomatic passport of Dominica.

The government took Douglas to court seeking a declaration to have him disqualified from being a member of the National Assembly on the grounds that he had contravened Section 28(1)(a) of the constitution of St Kitts and Nevis. They also asked that if that declaration was made, Douglas would have to vacate his seat in parliament and there should be an injunction that would bar him the national assembly and from carrying out any functions of an MP.

Justice Warde heard arguments in January. Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who led the government’s legal team, argued that by applying for and using the diplomatic passport issued by Dominica, allegiance to that government was presumed. Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan countered that Douglas never applied for or acquired citizenship for Dominica, nor had he sworn any oath of allegiance to that foreign power. He further explained that in every instance where Douglas used the diplomatic passport to travel, he had put Kittitian as his nationality on all travel documents.

Following a more than one hour summary, Justice Ward declared, “I find that the defendant obtained the diplomatic passport solely as a gesture of political and professional courtesy extended to him in his capacity as former prime minister. I further hold that under Dominican law the voluntary act of acquiring and using a diplomatic passport by a non-citizen does not place the holder under an acknowledgment of allegiance, or adherence or obedience to Dominica within the meaning of Section 28(1)(a) as this is not an act that manifests the conscious exercise of the defendant’s will, acknowledging the obligation of fidelity and obedience to the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

While Douglas was not in court as he was due to return to the federation later that afternoon, a small group of Labor Party supporters let out loud cheers of “We win” outside the courthouse.

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