CHIEF JUSTICE PROHIBITS PERSONS WITH DUAL CITIZENSHIP FROM BEING MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Submitted by Rickford Burke, President, Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has announced that it will hear the no confidence motion appeal cases on May 10, 2019. CGID believes that it is therefore prudent for the APNU+AFC government to consider reconvening the National Assembly subsequent to the CCJ’s determination of the instant matters.

As reported by the Caribbean News Agency, on February 2, 2019, I, as President of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID), made the following statement in an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on February 1, 2019, “Although such disqualification was not pursuant to an election petition, as the acting Chief Justice’s judgement seems to mandate, her order effectively disqualifies several sitting members of the National Assembly on both the opposition and government branches, including several government ministers, from being members of Parliament. Particularly, unless the Guyana Court of Appeal, or the CCJ, grants a stay of the judgment, government ministers with dual citizenship ceased to be ministers as of January 31, 2019.”

Article 155 (1) (a) of the Guyana Constitution, as well as the ruling of the Chief Justice and that of the Guyana Court of Appeal, make it pellucid that incumbent Members of Parliament who currently hold dual citizenship are disqualified from being candidates for the National Assembly and therefore cannot be Members of Parliament. The ruling of the Chief Justice in Compton Reid v Dr. Barton Scotland, Charrandas Persaud, et al, page 33, paragraph 82 states inter alia “I therefore hold that anyone who holds dual citizenship, that is a citizen of Guyana and of a foreign power, or state, as envisaged by Art 155 (1)(a) and therefore falls into this category of disqualified persons pursuant to 156(1) (d), should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament. As such the declarations sought in terms of paragraph one and two of the prayers for relief are granted. I therefore hold and declare that the second respondent is not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly.”

Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo announced yesterday, March 29, 2019 that PPP Members of Parliament with dual citizenship will renounce their citizenship and potentially return to Parliament. This gimmick would be nugatory and repugnant to the ruling of the court. First, a mere renunciation of one’s foreign citizenship has no effect until that process is completed and a renunciation certificate is issued and produced. Second, according to the ruling of the Chief Justice, a certification of renunciation, after a disqualified person with dual citizenship has been already unconstitutionally elected to the National Assembly does not cure their disqualification and unconstitutional election.

Consequently, CGID believes that whether an incumbent Member of Parliament with dual citizenship renounces his or her current foreign citizenship or not, he or she would still be in breach of the constitution, and currently sit in the National Assembly unlawfully. Therefore, the basis for any incumbent Member of Parliament with dual citizenship to now return to Parliament, consequent to and in light of the ruling of the Chief Justice and the Guyana Court of Appeal, is inexplicable and contrary to Article 155 (1) (a) of the constitution. Clearly, their return to the National Assembly will be in breach of the section of the ruling of the Chief Justice that was upheld by the Guyana Court of Appeal.

14 comments

  • We now agree. This was not always our position.

    For persons with dual-citizenships have been and will be used by intelligence agencies and ‘superior-loyalty states’ to surreptitiously interfere into the internal affairs of supposedly ‘inferior-loyalty states’.

    And that can’t be right.

    The problem in Guyana is and has been that nearly 50% or more of current members of parliament are duality bound. And even when duality is not formal, there is a large population paying loyalty to India, and that has been a systemic problem which nobody ever wants to mouth – as hidden under the colour of a one Caribbean agenda.

    Even if parliamentarians were to renounce their citizenships in Canada, USA, Britain etc, a nascent problem will persist.

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  • @Pacha

    Given the state of the country the ‘better offs’ have always seen dual citizenship as the escape hatch if things turned south.

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  • David

    Yes, we know this well. But are no longer persuaded that a formulation of overseas Bajans, Guyanese with dual loyalties could work in the ways previously proffered.

    Of course, it presents a current problem to Guyana and Barbados may also come to know difficulties with it as well. Bushie warned us about this some years ago. At the time some thought he was a tad xenophobic.

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  • i really dont understand this need to have a person serving in parliament to have only one passport or be a citizen of one country. it does not make sense to me. not in this day and age and i hope Bim does not go this myopic route

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  • Vincent Codrington

    Is there not something oxymoronic about dual citizenship?

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  • SirFuzzy (Former Sheep)

    @ Vincent Codrington March 30, 2019 11:14 AM

    Not if u want have your cake and eat it to. For the dual citizen its something they aspired towards and achieved, its more like a escape parachute when things become unbearable even if they are the ones doing the …..things that make it so.

    Just asaying

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  • Vincent Codrington

    @ SirFuzzy,

    Dual citizenship also shows a lack of commitment and should be discouraged.

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  • @Vincent

    For some it maybe a case of earning citizenship by descent.

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  • For some it maybe a case of earning citizenship by descent.

    Then don’t put yourself forward for certain positions. Simple.

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  • Am I right in saying that Indians, no matter how many generations out of India, are all entitled to citizenship? I was told this by a young Indian woman, a few years ago. Is there also a right of return for Jewish people to Israel?

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  • Having it as a discretionary matter will never address it.

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  • CGID calls on opposition PPP members Gail Teixeira, Adrian Annamayah and Odinga Lumumba to vacate Parliament

    The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has noted that all APNU+AFC coalition government members of Parliament with dual citizenship has resigned. Currently, only the opposition PPP has members of Parliament who have dual citizenship, in violation of the law. The PPP members of Parliament with dual citizenship are Gail Teixeira, Adrian Annamayah and Odinga Lumumba. Consequently, it is therefore the PPP, ironically, that is violating the constitution and orders of the Supreme Court and the Guyana Court of Appeal, not the APNU+AFC coalition government.

    Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday ostentatiously said on Gordon Mosley’s radio show, that PPP members of Parliament with dual citizenship will “stay away from Parliament,” but will not vacate Parliament. This is unacceptable and unlawful. Guyanese will not allow Bharrat Jagdeo and his fellow PPP law breakers to continue to violate the law with impunity, while hypocritically and brazenly pointing fingers at the government to obfuscate and create smokescreens.

    Article 155 (1) (a) of the constitution and the orders of the courts are pellucid. They do not say PPP members of Parliament with dual citizenship must “stay away from Parliament,” and continue unlawfully receiving a salary and pension. The law and courts expressly prohibit these PPP officials from sitting in Parliament. They are therefore squatters.

    In her January 31, 2019
    ruling in Compton Reid v Dr. Barton Scotland, Charrandas Persaud, et al, page 33, paragraph 82, Chief Justice Roxanne George ruled, inter alia, “I therefore hold that anyone who holds dual citizenship, that is a citizen of Guyana and of a foreign power, or state, as envisaged by Art 155 (1)(a) and therefore falls into this category of disqualified persons pursuant to 156(1) (d), should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament. As such the declarations sought in terms of paragraph one and two of the prayers for relief are granted. I therefore hold and declare that the second respondent is not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly.”

    PPP members Gail Teixeira, Adrian Annamayah and Odinga Lumumba are therefore unlawfully squatting in Parliament and are potentially perpetuating fraud by drawing a salary under false pretense.

    CGID calls on Mr. Jagdeo to explain why these three individuals have not vacated their seats in Parliament and are continuing to act illegally? Why are they still collecting MP’s salaries when they are not MPs, and whether they intend to pay back their the salaries they unlawfully received.

    In view of the above, CGID calls on PPP members Gail Teixeira, Adrian Annamayah and Odinga Lumumba to stop squatting in Parliament and resign. Moreover, we call on the Clerk of Parliament to stop all illegal payments to these illegal PPP MPs.

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  • “Dual citizenship also shows a lack of commitment and should be discouraged.”

    Mr. Codrington

    The issue of politicians and dual citizenship recently became a political issue in Jamaica, Dominica, St. Kitts and Grenada.

    In Jamaica’s 2007 general election, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) defeated the People’s National Party (PNP) in the West Portland Constituency. The PNP opposition called on the High Court to remove the Member of Parliament, Daryl Vaz on the basis of his dual citizenship with the United States. After a protracted legal battle, the court ruled in favour of the PNP and barred Vaz from holding a seat in the House of Parliament.
    In 2008 Grenada’s Court of Appeal threw out a dual citizenship case brought by the then Attorney General, Elvin Nimrod, against National Democratic Congress Member of Parliament Peter David. The court also ruled that David was free to contest the elections, which were scheduled for July 2008. AG Nimrod had to pay more than EC$20,000 in expenses for David.

    In 2010 two election petition cases were filed by Ronald Green and Maynard Joseph of Dominica’s opposition party, United Workers Party (UWP) against PM Roosevelt Skerrit and education minister, Peter Saint Jean, both of whom were said to have French citizenship. Justice Gertel Thom ruled in favour of Skerrit and Saint Jean.

    In 2018, the government of St Kitts & Nevis, through AG Vincent Byron, filed an injunction against for PM Dr. Denzil Douglas for allegedly holding dual-citizenship and a diplomatic passport from Dominica, which is against the laws of that country. He alleged Douglas violated the constitution of St Kitts by swearing or acknowledging allegiance to a foreign power, and should be barred from serving as a parliamentarian. On Wednesday, February 19, 2019 Justice Trevose Warde ruled in favour of Douglas.

    It was said St. Lucia’s PM Allen Chastanet received US citizenship as a result of being born in Puerto Rico, but allegedly renounced his American citizenship to contest elections in St. Lucia.

    Additionally, it must be noted that each of these cases had their unique circumstances. For example, former SKB PM Douglas CLAIMED he received a Dominican diplomatic passport from PM Skerrit ““as a show of courtesy. Based on the fact that I have served for a very long time as a Prime Minister of St. Kitts/Nevis, and served the region, and he felt that in view of the work that I was engaged in as a regional and international consultant, that it would be courteous for me to have a diplomatic passport.”

    References of dual citizenship were also made concerning Lester Bird and Edward Seaga who, although being born in the USA and “were automatically citizens of that country,” were former prime ministers of Antigua and Jamaica respectively.

    The late David Thompson, who was born in the UK and subsequently became PM of Barbados is reported to have made the following statement:

    “I believe the time has come to focus and review the provisions (of dual citizenship), as they will hamper and prevent us from attracting vitally needed talent in the management and administration of these islands at this critical period of development.”

    Issues such as these are deserving of more serious discussions.

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