Today January 16th, 2016 marks the second anniversary of what is being described as A Day of Infamy in the history of the federation of St.Kitts-NEVIS.
Below is a 23 point commentary by Attorney Talibah Byron describing the chain of events that led to the unprecedented 60 minute Parliament and boundary change on January 16th 2015-A Day of Infamy.
Below is the full 23 point commentary on the series of events which led to what Civil Society is describing as the stifling of democracy in St.Kitts-Nevis .
1. Three motions of no confidence were filed in the Parliament between 2012 and 2014 and were pending debate. Worthless Speaker of Parliament REFUSES to even schedule them for debate because the Prime Minister, having a clear minority of support in Parliament, would have lost the vote and would have to be removed immediately.
2. Two motions of no confidence had been filed in Parliament in 1981 and in 1982 and both were scheduled by the then Speaker for debate at the next sitting of Parliament immediately following their filing (creating Parliamentary convention). Order Papers and Notices were circulated listing each said motion. Due to circumstances agreed by then Leader of the Opposition and memorialised in contemporary newspaper reports published in 1981 and 1982, neither motion was ever debated and the second one was withdrawn by him during the sitting that it came up for debate. The then Leader of the Opposition continued to vote in favour of Government legislation in the same sitting in 1981 in which his motion came up (as recorded in the Order Book).
3. By January 2013, after a majority of ELECTED representatives sat in the Opposition benches and a minority sat in the Government benches, the Prime Minister tried to appoint an extra Senator to give him enough votes to pass his Budgets. This appointment was QUASHED by the High Court. The PM thus reshuffled his Cabinet to get that person appointed.
4. The Constituency Boundaries Commission began meeting in February 2013 and produced a Report to change constituency boundaries dated 5th September 2013 which was subsequently QUASHED by the High Court in July 2014 in a 74-page written decision declaring it unconstitutional because the Boundaries Commission failed to give proper consultation with stakeholders as it was bound to do.
5. After an initial interim injunction was granted ex parte by the High Court on 9th September 2013 which prevented the Governor General from signing the 5th September report into law, the Labour Government forcibly (yes, with Police) removes High Court Registrar Janine Harris-Lake from her office and prevents her from re-entering and continues to intimidate and threaten her. Government admits it has NO disciplinary grounds whatsoever for her removal. Labour Government then proceeds to implant someone in Registrar’s Office who purports to act as Registrar. Section 83 of the Constitution clearly states that only the Judicial and Legal Services Commission can recommend that a Registrar is to be removed from office. NO SUCH RECOMMENDATION HAS EVER BEEN MADE BY THE JLSC, throwing into question every act ever committed by the person purporting to act as Registrar since September 2013, including empanelling and selection of juries in Criminal Assizes, signing of Divorce orders, signing of transfer of Land Titles, signing of Probates and letters of administration, approval of all court orders and judgments made by High Court and Court of Appeal.
6. By February 2014, the High Court ruled that a motion of no confidence filed in Parliament must be scheduled and debated and voted on as a matter of priority, and any Prime Minister sitting in the face of a majority of Members against him, had no legitimacy to govern. The Speaker of Parliament had the heart to appeal this judgment. The Appeal Court made short order of his appeal and DISMISSED his appeal on 27th October 2014 and ordered that he should pay costs.
7. Boundaries Commission goes back to the drawing board to create a new Report to change the boundaries (even though they appealed that July 2014 judgment and the appeal is still pending).
8. Opposition Parties submit recommendations to the Commission around 15th November 2014 despite their objections that: 1) no boundary changes should be attempted while a minority illegitimate government is in office, 2) the Commission should in any case await the determination of the Appeal Court, 3) the Chairman of the Boundaries Commission Peter Jenkins was heavily biased in favour of the Government, as a well-known activist, an Executive member of the Labour Party, head or member of Government boards, receiver of many exclusive government contracts too numerous to mention, 4) the general elections are due very soon, too soon for changes to the constituency boundaries (last general elections were held January 2010).
9.The Boundaries Commission never responds to the recommendations submitted by the Opposition parties in November 2014. And never tells the parties what a new Report would look like.
10. In December 2014, lawyers for the Opposition parties write to the Prime Minister, to Chairman Peter Jenkins, et al, indicating that their clients fear that a Boundaries Report could be hastily produced and passed into law in a way that would prevent any legal recourse in the Courts. The letters further request a period of five days notice after a Report is produced so that their clients can review and study it and so that next steps could be determined before it is sent to the Governor General to be signed into law. After no response or acknowledgment of their letters, the letters were published by different media houses in the public domain around 3rd January 2015.
11. Commission Chairman Peter Jenkins only responds on 13th January 2015 stating that he has no legal duty to give the Opposition notice of what he’s doing.
12. Lawyers respond around 14th January stating that the question is not about legal duty to give notice to the Opposition, but about fairness, common decency, and fundamental right of access to the Courts and ended saying “Regardless of the existence or non-existence of any duty, we can discern no valid reason why the Commission should at all be reluctant to take this simple and sensible step”.
13. As feared, a new Report is hastily produced and signed by 3 out of 5 Commission members Peter Jenkins, Asim Martin and Marcella Liburd at 3:45pm on 16 January 2015, with Members Vance Amory and Vincent Byron refusing to sign and pleading for them to reconsider the recommendations and/or give consultation of the new recommendations to all stakeholders before signing off. This took place in Government Headquarters.
14. Then, while still in Government headquarters, Vance Amory and Vincent Byron notice something is afoot as government members suddenly appeared dressed in suit and tie, and the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of Parliament suddenly also appeared. Premier Vance Amory then receives an urgent phone call from his Office in Nevis that a Notice for Emergency Sitting of Parliament to begin at 3:45pm that day was faxed to his office.
15. Other Opposition Parliamentarians hear this and rush to change from jeans into suits and rush into Parliament. Leader of the Opposition Mark Brantley is overseas for engagements planned weeks prior, as the then Government well knows. Those then Opposition Parliamentarians who rush to Parliament are served by armed policemen on steps of Government HQ with their Notices around 4:30pm, after the Report had already been laid in Parliament and after the illegitimate Prime Minister was addressing it on the floor of Parliament.
16. Everybody in Parliament somehow already had copies done up of the entire boundaries Report that was only signed at 3:45pm for a meeting to begin at 3:45pm. There were already Parliamentary Resolutions passing the Report typed up and printed for everyone, the Governor General Proclamations also already typed up and printed.
17. Elected Parliamentarian now Minister the Hon. Eugene Hamilton tries to make a point of order to the worthless Speaker, that the entire sitting should not be happening. A boundaries Report calls for no emergency. On the contrary, this is something that requires time and consideration before a sitting is scheduled. He has had no time to read any part of the Boundaries Report. He has had no time to take that report to his constituents and get their feedback. He has had no time to gather his thoughts on how to respond to it, or to seek any advice on it from qualified statisticians or surveyors. Indeed, NO ONE in Parliament could have possibly been able to do that with a Report only produced and signed at 3:45pm for a sitting beginning at 3:45. Boundary changes is not some play-play piece of legislation like The Fishbowl Act which says fish bowls should be made of glass not plastic. Boundary changes ares SERIOUS and obviously affect EVERY ONE OF US. Boundary changes should not take place BEHIND OUR BACKS OR IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT. We the People should be given the chance to know and understand why the changes are being made. Why these changes, and not those changes. Where will I be voting? What polling station? Intelligent and informed debate should have been not only allowed but encouraged by every one of us.
18. Eugene Hamilton is then kicked out of Parliament by the worthless Speaker for seeking to bring certain Rules of Parliament to his attention.
19. Then Elected Parliamentarian Sam Condor with over 25 years in Parliament tries to address the House. He is told by the worthless Speaker to shut up and stop trying to repeat himself.
20. The then illegitimate Prime Minister Douglas then moves a Resolution that no more debate should go on. The worthless Speaker upholds this and a Resolution changing the boundaries is passed by the government votes despite Elected Parliamentarians Vance Amory and now Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris on their feet objecting to what was going on and saying that they wanted a chance to speak. The illegitimate PM then proceeds to dissolve Parliament.
21. Meanwhile, as soon as Vance Amory received the urgent call from his Office, lawyers for the Opposition rush and try to access the Courts to get an injunction to stop the Governor General from signing the Proclamation which would pass the boundary changes into law. The High Court Judge grants an injunction doing so. A copy of this injunction is served on Jason Hamilton as Attorney General, legal representative of the Governor General, as directed by the Judge.
22. I was exhausted. My faith in my country was wearing out. A MASSIVE FRAUD was committed against me, and more importantly against my people yesterday by a set of thieves and vagabonds. The wicked collusion between the Chairman of the Boundaries Commission, the illegitimate Prime Minister, and the worthless Speaker, is CLEAR AS DAY. And anyone who supports what happened yesterday is also a fraud, and a thief. If you have the gall to condone the depravity yesterday, and the depravity in this country since 2012, you are no friend of mine, and you are no friend of my country.
23. Boundary changes or no boundary changes, this Labour Party in any right-thinking democracy would be FINISHED after what they have done to our Constitution, to our standards of decency and morals, and after what they have done to us. They should be FINISHED.