Anthony Astaphan, SC, Lead Counsel for Leader of the Opposition the Right Dr Denzil L Douglas in the Dominica Diplomatic Passport case said Thursday the legal matter brought by the Attorney General, Vincent Byron Jr. “is a simple one.”
“This Diplomatic Passport was given to Dr Douglas as a matter of professionalism and personal courtesy (by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit). He applied for it as required under the regulations. He did not declare a citizenship of Dominica at no time, even when he travelled on his regular passport or on the Diplomatic Passport. His nationality was always declared as that of St. Kitts and Nevis or a Kittitian,” said Astaphan to newsmen after the trial ended at the Sir Lee Llewellyn Moore Judicial and Legal Services Complex.
“An issue which is beyond the legal boundaries; Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris failed to conform with protocol and issue a St. Kitts and Nevis Diplomatic Passport to Dr Douglas in his official capacity as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition,” he said.
“This Prime Minister (Harris) and the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Hon. Mark Brantley), refuse in accordance with protocol to give a Diplomatic Passport to the former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition,” said Astaphan.
He noted that when Dr. Douglas explained that to the Prime Minister of Dominica, he was disappointed and astounded and because of that situation, as a matter of personal and professional courtesy, the diplomatic passport was given to him.
“I can tell you the prime minister’s disposition on that is as Dr. Douglas says. I was aware of the subsequent discussions with the Prime Minister (Skerrit). Had the common courtesy to the former prime minister be given, we would not have been here today,” said Astaphan.
Astaphan said that in relation to nationality and citizenship, local expert Gaston Harris who was instrumental in installing the Canadian Bank Note local passport system said that the default setting is automatic. His evidence was supported by former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Astona Browne.
He said there is also official documentation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dominica certifying that “Dr. Douglas did not acquire citizenship and because he did not declare his citizenship, he left it blank but the default setting put Dominica in,” Astaphan explained.
“All the experts including those representing the Attorney General said the documentation produced into evidence reveals and indicated that every time Dr. Douglas travelled – departed or landed – he declared his citizenship to be that of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Astaphan.
Two of the government’s expert witnesses in the Dominica Passport Case told the Court that based on the information provided by the Attorney General, Hon. Vincent Byron, “Dr. Douglas is not a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
Senior Counsel, Attorney at Law, Reginald Armour and former Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda, Justin Simon, who were flown in from Trinidad and Antigua respectively for the trial both submitted that based on the information submitted by Attorney General Byron, Dr Douglas did not apply for citizenship of Dominica and on the travel declarations seen Dr. Douglas has always listed his nationality as that of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Both also agreed that granting of a Diplomatic Passport is given by discretion and no oath of allegiance is required.
Dr. Douglas’ expert witness, Gerald Burton, who is Chairman of the Dominica Electoral Commission in his testimony also stated that possession of a Diplomatic Passport by a Dr. Douglas does not grant citizenship.
Both parties are to submit final written submissions between January 25 and February 4. A date for the decision by His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward QC, will be announced.