Dual Nationality Laws Dormant For Decades

St. Kitts - Nevis' PM - Dr. Denzil Douglas

St. Kitts – Nevis’ PM – Dr. Denzil Douglas
Photo By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 10, 2009 (CUOPM)

Laws prohibiting persons who hold dual nationality, almost dormant in the Constitutions of many Caribbean nations for decades, have surfaced and must be adhered to, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said Tuesday.

In remarks on his weekly “Ask the Prime Minister” call in programme, Dr. Douglas reiterated that his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government wants everyone who is qualified to seek elected office, based on the Federation’s Constitution.

“If they are not at the moment qualified, there are ways in which they can become qualified, and I must assume that this is what all responsible persons wishing to become a parliamentarian will, with neither reluctance nor equivocation, do. The Government has been tasked with the responsibility to uphold the Constitution, to uphold the law and this it is our honour and our obligation to do,” said Dr. Douglas.

He noted that the issue of dual citizenship, has not only become an issue in the run-up to elections in a number of Caribbean nations, but the ensuing momentum, in some cases, has caused persons who illegally sought elected office according to the Constitution to be taken to court, and their removal from office because they had violated their country’s Constitution.

“Both as nations and as individuals, then, we must learn from the trials and tribulations of others.  Dual citizens seeking elected office when their Constitution explicitly prohibited them from doing so, have caused a number of our sister islands to waste financial resources, manpower resources, and valuable time and energy only to have the Court remove persons who, based on their nation’s Constitution, had not been eligible to seek elected office in the first place,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He noted that many Caribbean nations require that those seeking elected office either have “˜never sworn allegiance, obedience, or adherence to any foreign power or state’ and, if they ever did so, that this foreign allegiance be renounced prior to seeking office.

“Concern over dual citizens seeking elected office is not unique to St. Kitts and Nevis.  Most importantly, this dual citizenship restriction, as we all know, was made a part of the Federation’s Constitution not by my Labour Party Administration, but by the former People’s Action Movement Government of Dr. Kennedy Simmonds,” said Prime Minister Douglas, pointing out that the language prohibiting persons of dual nationality from seeking elected office are key to the Constitutions of many other Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda as well as the Constitutions of the British Dependencies of Anguilla, Bermuda, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands.

“If, just for the purposes of this discussion, we were to forget about Labour and PAM, Listeners, if we were to forget about CCM and NRP, just for a moment, if we could lay our political tensions and rivalries aside, we would all be able to see that purely as a matter of common sense and national interest, any people, anywhere, need and deserve elected officials whose loyalties and obligations are to them, and to them alone.  In this increasingly interconnected world, with all the external demands and pressures on governments and parliamentarians on matters as radically different as global warming, war, trade, security, and so on, always expanding, fidelity to one country at a time becomes particularly important,” said Dr. Douglas.

He said that as the world changes, the demands on countries and legislators are more intense and more complex than ever before and the existence and enforcement of these Constitutional safeguards are more important than ever before.

“We  will continue to uphold the law because we are a nation of laws, and our laws constitute the foundation on which all the other forms of protection and empowerment – in the realms of education, housing, agriculture, security, health, and so on ““ rests,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

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