Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
July 26, 2010 (CUOPM)
A High Court Judge was told Friday that St. Kitts and Nevis Parliamentarian, the Hon. Eugene Alastair Hamilton, who admitted under oath that he is a Legal Permanent Resident of the United States, “has undivided loyalties with one foot in the United States and another foot in St. Kitts and Nevis and that is unacceptable under the Constitution of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
“It demonstrates that he has not total patriotism to the country and that he has hinted or expressed some form of acknowledgement of obedience of adherence and allegiance to the United States of America,” said lead attorney Dr. Henry Stogumber Browne, who represents former parliamentarian and the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party candidate, Mr. Cedric Liburd in the January 25th General Election in St. Christopher 8.
Commenting following day one of the election petition trial before BVI High Court Judge Her Ladyship Justice Hariprasad Charles, Dr. Browne told reporters that even though Mr. Hamilton was returned by the Returning Officer, the election petition was filed because on Nomination Day, January 15th 2010, he was not qualified to be elected.
“To be qualified to be elected, you must be qualified to be nominated,” said Dr. Browne.
He contends that in consequence that Mr. Hamilton on Nomination Day was the holder of a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) in the United States of America, disqualifies him from standing for election within the provision of Section 20 (a) Subsection 1 (a) of the Constitution which prohibits anyone who by his own act and acknowledgement of any obedience, any adherence or any allegiance to a foreign Power or State is not qualified to be elected to pass laws for the people of St. Christopher and Nevis.”
“This is not a case of any two passports as many people seem to believe and as the other side appeared to have believed. The Constitution does not recognise any two passports as a basis for disqualification. The Constitution recognises that if anyone has an acknowledgement, any allegiance, any adherence, any obedience, to a foreign State or Power, he cannot be qualified to be elected. If you are not qualified to be elected, you cannot be properly nominated,” said Dr. Browne.
“The rationale is clear. You cannot have legislators in a country with divided loyalties. Your loyalty must be absolute to the patriotism of the country which you seek to govern and if that is not openly and pellucidly transparent, we say you are prohibited from standing for election to be elected as a legislator in this country. Your loyalties must not be diluted. Your obedience to the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis must be absolute and your adherence to the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis must be permanent and absolute,” added Dr. Browne.
“You cannot have one foot in St. Kitts and Nevis and one foot in the United States of America by applying for and accepting Permanent Residence in the United States. It demonstrates half commitment. It demonstrates that when the going is good you stay and when the going is rough, you go. That is not acceptable under our Constitution,” said Dr. Browne.
He pointed out that the qualification is that one must have “total obedience, adherence and allegiance to the country in which you make laws, is age-old. It dates back to 1701 and it has run its course through the centuries and the framers of the Constitution have placed it in the Constitution because they felt it was worthwhile to deter those who think they can have divided loyalties and rule according to where they fortunes lie.”
Dr. Browne said there was certain information in relation to a second passport, but when it was satisfied that the evidence was not forthcoming “we thought it was our duty to inform the court that we will not pursue that, because we did not intend to go on a fishing expedition.”
Dr. Browne reiterated that the election petition case is not about two passports. It is he said whether under the relevant section of the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution, by his conduct Mr. Eugene Hamilton has indicated an acknowledgement of obedience, allegiance, and adherence to a foreign State or Power.
“He is obliged to pay taxes in the United States of America. He is obliged to have Permanent Residence there. His family lives there. He has Permanent Resident status accruing rights onto him that are identical of the rights of United States citizens,” said Dr. Browne.